Outsourcing to Save Call-Center Costs
3. Formalize a request for proposal (RFP). This should include:
* a pro forma for your business, meaning the types and volumes of transactions (actual and multiyear forward projections);
* required services;
* service level standards for total call length, abandonment rate and average call;
* a request for references and a boilerplate contract; and
* details about order management systems needed, systems integration (including your e-commerce site).
4. Decide what to keep in-house. Keep your customer service internal. This gives you a way to monitor the service levels of the outsource company.
5. Ask other critical questions. Among the things you’ll want to know:
* How will training regarding your product(s) and company policies be conducted?
* Is the provider PCI credit compliant and certified?
* How will you monitor your customers’ calls?
* Who are the company’s references? Come up with standardized questions to ask each of the references so you can compare their responses.
Domestic outsourcing has some advantages over going offshore. Here are a few I feel are important:
* There may be an advantage in the area of the English language. However, I’m greatly impressed with how well customer service reps in the Philippines have performed for some of our clients.
* Shorter travel distance means you can visit more often.
* A better understanding of the U.S. culture.
* Keeps jobs in the U.S. This may or may not be as much of a factor for you.
Of course, domestic outsource providers’ costs will be higher than offshore. But it’s not necessarily a dead end. We have one client, a major nonprofit with a high average order value, that outsourced 100 percent of its direct orders domestically while keeping customer service in-house. It was able to successfully renegotiate with its domestic outsource provider to make the costs comparable.