Written by Allie Delos Santos
Some companies struggle to manage phone calls and respond to customers’ messages, so they outsource those incoming calls. Although customer service is an essential part of business, there’s no need to overpay when choosing an outsourcing call center service. Plenty of providers offer affordable call center services.
This guide reviews the most important factors you should consider when looking for an affordable call center service provider to help your company.
1. Experience in Your Industry
When looking for a call center service provider, check whether its agents can represent your company. Keep the following in mind:
- Related industry experience: The call center service provider should have experience representing companies in your industry. For example, it makes little sense for a software development company to work with a provider with no experience servicing the software industry.
- Reliable training process: A call center service provider should be able to deliver to its agents a training program relevant to your industry.
- Adaptability: If lacking experience in your industry, the provider should at least have the capacity and willingness to learn, adapt, and expand to a new sector.
An affordable provider might not have served in your industry for long. However, at the very least, it should have a working knowledge of your industry or an effective and efficient training method to make you feel confident about outsourcing your customer support with them.
2. Technology and Capital
Modern call centers must invest in technology to successfully manage various communication platforms. Proper technology should allow quick and effective customer communication regardless of which customer communication channel they use.
An affordable call center service might not have the most advanced computing arsenal at its disposal but should at least meet the minimum requirement to manage customer inquiries. Some examples of integral tools a call center should have:
- Email response
- Predictive dialer
- Automatic call distributor
- Telephony software
- Issue tracking system
- Call recording and monitoring
Younger consumers prefer alternative communication channels such as social media and email. Win those consumers by outsourcing email or social media support to a reliable call center that works with those channels too.
3. Personnel Fit
Agent performance is another critical element of a call center because it directly impacts your customer service quality. Call takers with the necessary skills and training to effectively handle clients can provide a stellar customer experience.
An effective call center knows how to streamline recruitment, reward high-performing employees, and retain team members. Consider hiring a call center with low pricing but skilled employees who can provide the best customer support possible.
4. Size of Service Provider
Consider what size call center vendor your company needs. Smaller call centers tend to be more affordable.
If your business requires only 100 agents, you don’t need to hire a call center that can accommodate more than that. In this case, you can choose a smaller and more affordable call center.
Additionally, expect that some call centers will require a minimum amount of call traffic. Be prepared to give a solid estimate of the size of your call trafic to find the optimal call center that fits your needs.
5. Security Measures
Data breaches are a huge threat. Check Point reports a 50% increase in cyberattacks year over year, with companies facing 925 attacks per week. It behooves you to choose a call center with robust security protocols to protect your company and customers.
When choosing a system for your business, consider security and privacy. The two primary types of systems–on-site legacy and cloud-based–differ in potential security issues. Cloud-based systems tend to be more affordable and easier to configure than legacy systems, but they can be more prone to security breaches.
Check your prospective call center provider’s security practices, especially if you pick the cloud-based route. Data breaches are serious issues that can compromise your operation and credibility.
Here are some important questions to ask when interviewing a potential provider:
- How will they protect customer data?
- Where will they store customer data?
- How can the data be accessed? Who has access to it?
- How does the service provider update and maintain its system?
- What certifications does the agency have? Is it in compliance with regulatory security standards?
- What are the provider’s recruitment, training, and monitoring processes?
- Has the provider ever experienced any breach, and how was it handled?
The provider’s base of operation is important when deciding on a call center service. The two primary locations to choose from are your home country or another country.
Offshore call center services are often more affordable because of low labor costs, and many businesses favor them. However, offshoring has associated risks, such as:
- Language barrier: Can call center agents fluently speak your native language? Fluency is crucial because it can impact your customers’ loyalty. Clients can become frustrated at communication barriers.
- Safety: Is your prospective provider located in a safe and economically stable area? The stability of your contact center service provider depends on this factor.
- Government and politics: Is the country you want to outsource to politically stable? Does it have a predictable government? This factor can affect your call center’s security.
Consider location, especially when hiring a provider representing your organization. Outsourcing in your home country is easy but can be more expensive. A good tip for outsourcing customer service is finding an affordable provider in a fairly safe area where people can speak your language.
7. How the Call Center Service Manages Outages
Call centers are an essential component of many businesses. Downtime at a call center can significantly damage your reputation and relationship with customers who can’t reach the center. Additionally, one hour of infrastructure downtime can cost up to $100,000 for many organizations.
Just because you’re working with an affordable call center service doesn’t mean that you should sacrifice quality. Partner with a dependable contact center with a strong disaster recovery plan and reliable redundancy so that no power outage can cripple your productivity.
Your call center provider will be interacting directly with your clients. Such interactions can significantly affect how your customers see your business. You can get an overall view of the day-to-day operations of the contact center you hire by asking it for regularly scheduled reports.
But not all reporting is created the same. Some providers offer only basic summaries of the number of calls placed and answered in a given period. When looking for an affordable call center service, ensure it provides real-time access to data analytics and audio recording of calls for easy analysis in the future. According to a report, 72% of companies think they can use analytics to provide a better customer experience.
Before signing a contract with any provider, assess how forthcoming and transparent it is and what its self-reporting entails.
9. Call Center Availability
Another important point is how often the call center agents will be available. According to research from the CMO Council, 75% of customers say that response time is an integral part of good customer service. Failure to provide round-the-clock support means you’re providing a poor customer experience to your clients.
Even highly affordable call center services should have agents available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to take your customers’ calls. Choosing a service provider that is constantly available and always reliable should be one of your primary priorities.
10. Global Reach
Where is your company located? Do you have business outside your home country? Do you need agents to speak a particular language? These are important questions to ask yourself when looking for a third-party call center.
Reach is something to consider when scouting a call center service. Knowing your target audience helps you narrow down your list of call center providers.
Keep in mind that an affordable contact center can have a smaller reach. If your organization doesn’t do business in foreign countries, a smaller call center might be the right choice for your company.
The Bottom Line
Knowing the essential elements of a call center allows you to make well-informed decisions when choosing a provider. Your requirements can change, but the essential elements must be there. Ultimately, you want a call center service with 24/7 availability, a robust disaster recovery plan, regular reporting, and strict security measures.
You should also investigate a potential provider. Sign up only when it demonstrates that it can represent your company well. You can choose from many affordable call center providers, but you should choose one that can deliver what you need now and what your company may need as it grows.