With thousands of call centers available for outsourcing, finding the best call center for your brand can be adventurous, to put it mildly. Clearly, the best fit is one that extends your own philosophy of call center management. In fact, a one-question, quick litmus test might be, “Is this call center managed the way I would run it?” If not, then it’s easier to migrate to the next call center/vendor candidate. If the center is being run like you would run it, then you can begin the rigorous, discovery process of acquiring data in your due diligence to assure that you and the vendor candidate are the best fit for a partnership.
Let’s narrow your due diligence to 3 areas of evaluation:
Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)
Accountability is critical to ensuring trust is maintained with an outsourced call center. In order to obtain the level of service expected from a vendor, KPI’s must be in place. First Contact Resolution is a KPI that stands out. But, it’s far from being the only one to consider. So, put your list of KPI’s together so that an objective target sets the expectations of the vendor. Remember, you are building a partnership. Share data. Have honest conversations about performance expectations. If you’re hesitant about sharing numbers, consult with your legal department and propose the use of non-disclosure documentation if you feel you need protection [but, if you need protection, you might ask yourself if this vendor feels right (see #3)
Perhaps internal management of human resources and operation processes is difficult to honestly evaluate from the outside. The numbers here can be skewed and explained away with evasive, but reasonable language. In other words, your vendor candidate may be able to quote their documented processes, but if management is not committed to running those processes by their own book, what good are they? For example, if they don’t follow documented processes of hiring, and their employee turnover is moderate to high, how will you really know what attributes to the turnover? Poor management or poor processes? It is in this stage that real trust is challenged. The trust either builds or it caps off. If the explanations by the vendor candidate are suspect and borderline, then moving onto the next vendor candidate may be the next order of business. If you can’t build trust with a vendor in the discovery process, you won’t ever have a trusting relationship and the business is doomed. Shake hands are part ways. Or, if trust is building, book a flight to experience your candidate’s corporate culture.
Finally, this is the subjective part of your evaluation, and perhaps the most nebulous. It is only measurable according to your senses: see, smell, and feel. It is instinctive. To measure the corporate culture of a call center, the best way to get a feel for it is to walk it, literally. To put it bluntly, “How does it feel?” If by walking the center, you feel like it is a good fit, then it probably is. Don’t second-guess it; don’t analyze your instincts. Accept what they are telling you. It is raw data to be trusted. It is information for your senses. Get on a plane and experience it before you sign on the dotted line. While this is the last evaluation component, it is an Important one. All you want to evaluate is the vibe, the spirit of the corporate culture. It is the icing on the cake. If the center doesn’t pass this test, you still have a couple of other candidate from which to choose, hopefully.
Surely, these evaluation considerations are a bird’s eye view of the discovery process of a vendor candidate. The three areas outlined in this post only scratch the surface on what considerations ought to be given when preparing to outsource your call center business. Fill in the gaps by researching all resources at your disposal to develop your own candidate evaluation process. Despite all of the concrete, objective criteria you can muster, be able to answer that all-encompassing question, “Is this call center managed the way I would manage it?”
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To your success,