September 22, 2017

7 Must-Haves for a Modern Outsourced Contact / Call Center

call center, contact center, BPO services, outsourcing services, call center agents
Many companies who choose to outsource look to high-performance call centers to provide the best possible service to their customers. While some BPO providers remain traditional service providers, some agencies have taken the initiative to modernize their call centers and become strategic business partners for their clients. These new standards have elevated the quality of service and expectations in the BPO industry. A white paper written by UBM, LLC outlines the keys to a modern, high-performing call center as “cultural capabilities, highly trained reps, a full range of communication options, sophisticated reporting and analytics capabilities, self-help options, effective innovation, and financial strength.”
Every company has its own unique goals and challenges. Therefore some of these “must-haves” will be more important than others. Below we describe each in depth to help you evaluate how important it is for your ideal contact center. No two providers are the same, so it is important to analyze these seven qualifications against your goals and challenges to find the best BPO partner for your company. 
1. Cultural Capabilities 
Today’s technologically advanced modern contact centers can deliver specialized customer experiences that act as an extension of your brand and corporate identity. Modern agencies gain a clear understanding of your cultural values and identity, and then train their reps to seamlessly emulate your brand when interacting with customers and employees. Srabotiˇc and Ruzzier  recommend in Logistics Outsourcing: Lessons from Case Studies, “The four primary facilitators in every relationship are corporate compatibility, similar managerial philosophy and techniques, mutuality, and symmetry.” When vetting your BPO partner, take steps to understand their training procedures and the strategies they use to represent your company as well as an in-house team. 
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2. Highly Trained Reps  
Highly trained representatives are the foundation of all modern call centers. Agents who possess the ability to speak multiple languages, handle large call volumes and provide ‘first call resolution’ are what sets high-performing agencies apart from their competitors. These providers are a commodity to their business partners, especially as many of them are dedicated to consistently improving service levels. Improving performance is done in a variety of ways which can include a quality assurance team that monitors agent calls, coaching opportunities, and consistent guidelines for agent advancement. 
3. Full Range of Communication Options
Customers today want immediate service at all hours of the day, through a variety of channels that are convenient to them. As a result, modern contact centers use technology to provide multi-channel communication and to manage call volumes. At peak times, it can still be a challenge to help customers promptly, which research from Forrester shows has the greatest negative impact on your customer service ratings. Modernized call centers have omnichannel communication platforms that direct customer traffic in a way that improves customer satisfaction and protects damage to your reputation for bad service. Modern call centers also use a combination of social media communication, online chat, text, email, and outbound calling strategies to add value to the customer experience. Some call centers also interact with customers using VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) which gives customers the ability to communicate with agents using internet-based digital channels or video. 
4. Sophisticated Reporting and Analytics Capabilities 
One of the unique services offered by advanced call centers is sophisticated reporting and data analytics on the service they are providing. These agencies have highly trained specialists who analyze dozens of key performance indicators (KPIs) from raw data to indicate if they are meeting the quantifiable performance goals laid out in the SLA (service level agreement). The best agencies will go a step further and meet with clients on a regular basis to clarify emerging trends and proactively offer solutions to improve performance levels and promote growth. 
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5. Self-Help Options 
According to Prof. Steven Van Belleghem, today “70% of customer’s expect a company’s website to include a self-service application.” Agencies that offer self-help platforms greatly increase your customer service ratings and help you stay competitive. Self-help platforms give your customers and employees 24/7 instant access to learning and development training materials, how-to educational videos, and tools that enable them to solve their issues without needing to call a customer service agent. Data and feedback collected from self-help options will also help you improve the information and design over time, creating a powerful tool to increase customer satisfaction and reduce call volumes which also saves you money.
6. Effective Innovation
Breakthrough technology in the last 20 years has drastically changed the way people communicate, and with it, the expectations customers have for call center agents. Some companies have found it difficult to implement the latest technological advances internally for their customer service. And many CEOs are focused on the business’s core competencies and lack the necessary time, processes, knowledge, tools, or expertise to implement the most innovative customer service strategies. Modern, advanced BPO providers use the most up-to-date technology tools in their services, and they continually update their systems to offer the most cutting-edge service to their clients.
7. Financial Strength
CFOs should look for a financially stable BPO business partner that has a reputation for maintaining established systems for quality customer care. UMB, LLC notes that a company with a proven track record will help ensure a disruption in services never occurs. One of the most persuasive strategies for measuring a BPO provider’s reliability and strength is by reviewing the financial strength before entering into a partnership, and by reviewing the length of previous and current partnerships. Analysts at Gartner or Frost & Sullivan conduct extensive evaluations and research reports to help you find this information and to narrow down your choices for BPO partners.
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Modern contact/call centers use technology and innovative strategies to position themselves as strategic partners that help their business partners grow. This applied to up and coming businesses that are in the beginning growth stages, as well as large established companies that may be restructuring to become more efficient, nimble and competitive. Whether your goal is unlocking growth potential or increasing the quality of your customer service and non-essential business functions, a modern contact center can increase your performance more than traditional call centers were able to achieve. 

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