Looking to outsource call center operations?
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about BPO call center operations. We’ll cover its benefits, its drawbacks and even show you how to implement it for your business.
Here’s what this article covers:
(You can use the links below to jump into a section of your choice)
- What is BPO?
- What is call center BPO?
- Why should you outsource your call center?
- Risks in outsourcing your call center
- How to outsource your call center
Let’s get started.
What is BPO?
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is the process of delegating non-core business activities to a third party BPO vendor. As you no longer have to manage these non-core activities yourself, you have more resources to focus on your core business operations.
Where Do You Outsource To?
Most businesses outsource to foreign countries with lower wages, cheaper rent and reduced setup costs. Countries like the Philippines are a great option as they give you quality talent at a fraction of the cost!
However, outsourcing to foreign countries isn’t your only option.
Some companies even outsource to a local third-party service providers- however, their cost savings are usually lower. Some companies even outsource to independent freelancers to further reduce costs.
What is Call Center BPO?
Call center BPO is the process of outsourcing your outbound and inbound call handling activities. For example, if your organization sells a product or service, your business process outsourcing vendor will handle tasks like answering customer complaints or telemarketing.
In addition to making and receiving calls, BPO call center activities also include:
- Data entry and other back end work.
- Help desk services.
- Virtual front office and back office activities.
- Technical support.
- Market research.
Here’s a breakdown of the different types of call centers you can outsource to:
Types of Call Center Outsourcing
There are three types of call centers. Here’s a closer look at each one to help you determine which one suits you best:
1. Inbound Call Center Outsourcing
An inbound call center doesn’t make any telephone calls to customers. Instead, they answer incoming calls. They can take bookings, provide information, and handle complaints.
If you run a business that needs a customer care hotline or an information center, you can outsource your activities to an inbound call center.
2. Outbound Call Center Outsourcing
An outbound call center specializes in making telephone calls. These include calls to existing customers and prospects.
Businesses that require call center services such as cold calling for sales will benefit from outsourcing to an outbound call center.
3. Two-Way Call Center Outsourcing
Two-way call centers handle both incoming and outgoing calls. These call centers are usually divided into departments to handle each type of call separately.
Two-way call centers are a great option if your company needs both inbound and outbound call assistance. For example, use a two-way call center when you need a customer helpline and cold calls for sales.
Why Should You Outsource Your Call Center?
Here are a few reasons why you should consider outsourcing your call center activities:
1. Reduced Costs
Running an in-house call center isn’t cheap.
You’ll have to handle:
- Setup costs
- Training costs
Why spend on all of that, when you can outsource your call center activities?
Here’s how it saves you money:
- As you’re outsourcing your contact center activities, you won’t have to undertake any setup costs.
- There are no overheads like electricity and heating since you’re not operating the center yourself.
- As the vendor trains their agents, you won’t have to train anybody.
- Most call center BPO vendors are based in foreign countries with lower wages – this can also cut down your spending.
2. Save Time on Recruiting and Running a Call Center
Everyone knows how difficult recruiting is.
It’s time-consuming and takes valuable resources away from your core activities.
Plus, when you add the time you spend on training and managing new hires, you won’t find the time to do anything else!
Why go through all this trouble yourself, when BPO call center vendors can handle it for you?
As they’re the ones handling the call center management activities, you won’t have to do anything. Whether it’s hiring, training or managing agents – your vendor handles all of it!
Worried that the agents aren’t qualified?
Most reputed contact center vendors are cautious of whom they hire and you’ll only be working with the best!
3. Easily Expand Across International Borders
The problem with running an in-house call center is that you’re geographically-limited.
If you’re a global company, you’ll need to handle calls round the clock and have your local call center operate 24×7!
Since you can’t do that – why not simply outsource your call activities?
Most call center BPO vendors have agents and sub-centers all over the world. This helps them manage your telephone calls round-the-clock without overworking their agents. This ensures that they’re always fresh and can attend to your customers with ease!
Not only will your helplines address customers quicker, they’ll also be better at it!
Risks in Outsourcing Your Call Center
While outsourcing is cost-effective and convenient, there are a few limitations to it. Here’s a closer look at what they are:
1. Communication and Fluency Issues
When you run an in-house call center, you’ll hire agents with strong communication skills to deal with callers. As you’re screening them yourselves, you’ll know that their communication skills meet your standards.
For example, if you’re hiring in the United States, all your agents will be familiar with American English and American nuances.
However, when you outsource call center operations, you won’t know how good the agents are at effectively communicating with your callers.
Foreign call center agents may have trouble communicating with callers as they may not be fluent in your preferred language. While they’re able to follow a script, they may not understand subtle nuances or slang as the conversation moves along.
This can make it difficult to effectively communicate with customers and prospects – which can deter them from interacting with your company.
2. An Increased Risk Of Confusion
Keeping your business functions in-house can be costly, but it ensures your employees are dedicated to your business. As their sole focus is your company, they’ll know everything about your products and offerings.
However, call center BPO vendors aren’t employees of your business and your company isn’t the only company they handle! This means your outsourced contact center agents could handle tons of different companies everyday.
This can pose some serious problems.
Think about it.
Tons of different companies. Tons of different services. Tons of different products.
There’s bound to be some mix-up or confusion down the line, right?
You can of course have a team solely dedicated to your business, but this is possible only if you have a high budget.
3. Difficult to Monitor and Control Quality
The latest news reports show that 61% of customers stop dealing with a business due to poor customer experience.
That’s a loss of more than half of your customers over bad customer service!
Running an in-house call center guards against this as you can you easily monitor your employees’ work to maintain service quality.
However, with outsourcing, you lose this ability.
As these aren’t your employees, you have limited control over what they do. This can result in a dip in quality that can hurt your customer satisfaction levels.
This is magnified when you’re switching from an in-house call center to an outsourced one. As your customers are used to a certain level of quality, this shift could be jarring enough for them to take notice.
This is why most companies use performance monitoring tools like Time Doctor to ensure that their outsourced agents are performing well.
How to Outsource Your Call Center Activities
Here are the steps you need to follow to outsource your call center activities:
1. Identify Your Outsourcing Needs
The first step in outsourcing your call center activities is zeroing in on your needs.
Businesses usually outsource inbound call center functions such as customer service and outbound functions like lead generation and cold calling.
Whatever your need is at the time, look for BPO industry vendors that specializes in it. For example, if you’re looking to outsource cold calling, look for a vendor that specializes in cold calling.
Note: Try not to outsource any activities that handle sensitive information like client records and finances unless it’s a well-established BPO with the right data-security procedures in place. Otherwise, activities like this are best kept in-house to prevent data breaches and legal issues.
2. Find a Service Provider
Once you decide on the activities you want outsourced, it’s time to find a BPO service provider. Here are a few things to consider when you look for a call center BPO vendor:
A. The Location
First, decide if you want to outsource to a local or foreign provider.
Local call center BPO vendors can be expensive but are easier to manage and coordinate with. Foreign call center BPO providers may be more challenging to monitor and control, but they usually offer better rates.
Want to outsource to foreign countries like the Philippines?
B. The Vendor’s Specialization
Most companies make the mistake of assuming all call centers are the same.
Most call centers specialize in a particular field; only choose one that aligns with your industry and needs. For example, BPO call center vendors specializing in handling medical transcription agencies may not be the best option for a travel business in need of customer support.
C. The Cost
Deciding on a budget and sticking to it is a core part of outsourcing.
Your budget should be high enough to hire a quality vendor but low enough to ensure you’re not spending as much as you would with an in-house team. Most call centers charge around $26 per hour, but this can go up to anywhere from $35 to $55 for specialized BPO companies.
3. Continuously Monitor Your Vendor’s Results
The best way to maintain the quality of your call center operations is by consistently monitoring your vendor’s results.
But when your vendor is thousands of miles away, how will you know:
- How long the agents work
- What tasks they work on
- How productive they are
Luckily, performance monitoring tools like Time Doctor can help you determine this.
TimeDoctor is a powerful time tracking tool used by companies like Apple and Verizon that can help you monitor your call center vendor’s performance. It can track what your outsourced agents are working on and how much time they’ve spent on your tasks.
Let’s take a closer look at how Time Doctor can help you:
1. Simplified Time Tracking
What’s the problem with most monitoring tools?
They’re complicated to use.
And if your monitoring tool is confusing, no agent is going to use it!
Luckily, TimeDoctor is super easy to use.
All a user has to do is type in the task they’re working on and click a button to start the timer.
Time Doctor then runs in the background and tracks everything they work on. Once they’re done, press the same button and the timer stops!
2. Minimize Inactive Time with a built-in Inactivity Tracker
Sure, your outsourced agents can track time for a task, but how do you verify that they’re actually working during that time?
TimeDoctor’s built-in inactivity tracker monitors keyboard and mouse movements to measure activity levels. The tool will automatically stop tracking time after 3 minutes of inactivity. This way, employees won’t get to pass off idle time as productive time.
Note: For privacy reasons, Time Doctor doesn’t track which keys were pressed. It only tracks if any keys were pressed.
3. Manage Distractions To Help Your Workers Stay Focused
You can’t have your vendor’s employees browsing through social media during calls, right?
They need to be entirely focused on managing your customers!.
To ensure this, Time Doctor has a built-in distraction management feature. Whenever a user opens an unproductive site or app during work, a popup appears – asking them if they’re working or not.
This popup is usually enough to get them back to work.
Note: For added customizability, you can choose which sites are classified as unproductive.
4. Detailed Reports For Insights On What Your Vendor is Working On
Time Doctor gives you multiple reports to analyze your vendor’s performance. Here’s a look at what these reports contains:
- Projects Report – Shows you which agents worked on your projects and for how long.
- Timesheet Report – Shows you the total time worked by your vendor’s agents within a given time period.
- Time Use Report – Shows a breakdown of the time worked by a single agent.
- Web and App Usage Report – A breakdown of each app and site accessed by someone during work hours.
- Timeline Daily Report – Chronological breakdown of the spent on work by an agent on a given day.
- Poor Time Use Report – Highlights any unproductive apps & sites accessed by an agent during work hours.
Outsourcing your call center operations is a great way to cut costs and focus on your business’ core competencies.
However, it’s important to do your research and find a call center BPO vendor that aligns with your needs. Once you do, you’ll be able to take your business to the next level and satisfy more customers to bring in more revenue!
Liam Martin is a co-founder of Time Doctor—a time tracking and productivity monitoring software designed for tracking hours and productivity of remote teams.