How to Select an Outsourcing Partner
7. Reports: Before contracting a provider, determine exactly which reports you want it to provide and how often. Some merchants, Pudles says, pay for AnswerNet's standard reporting services, "but then they'll say their CFOs want analytics done in a certain way. I have to then tell the client that they bought only a standard package. So being communicative upfront and throughout the relationship is crucially important to a healthy business interaction."
8. Pricing: Look for an outsourcer that offers reasonable prices when compared to an in-house contact center with fully loaded costs (e.g., salaries, benefits, technology, overhead). Magram advises, "Maybe you have 70 contact center seats in house right now, but you need 100 during peak seasons. Why should you be forced to hire, train and ramp up for those time periods?" Outsourcing overflow calls during peak seasons can alleviate those short-term costs and the extra work of your full-time contact center staff.
Mistakes to Avoid
1. Shopping on price alone. Shopping for an outsourcer based only on price is a common mistake cited by several providers. "I often find catalogers want good, quality service, but they don't want to pay for it," Klein says. "And they don't investigate if the contact center has a record of offering consistently good quality" at that price level, he continues.
Pudles agrees, adding that some merchants actually expect some services to be provided free of charge. "That's just not realistic," he says. "We wouldn't remain in business if we gave away our services, would we?"
For Comes, price is not a strong consideration. "You can negotiate that as you grow," she notes.
2. Shopping by proximity. Some merchants prefer providers who are located nearby. "They'll want to know how close the contact center is to their corporate headquarters," Klein says. "If after the initial rep-training period you still have to visit your contact center provider for weekly meetings, you have the wrong provider."