Decoding Call Center Outsourcing: Chicago Businesses’ Guide to Cost, Quality, and Customization

Chicago's competitive business environment drives call center outsourcing. Achieve cost savings while prioritizing quality and customization. Discover the benefits of outsourcing and learn how to select the ideal Chicago BPO partner for success.
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The City of Big Shoulders is considered the best metro area for businesses in the U.S., making competition among enterprises fierce. Local organizations seek to reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction, and stand out by delegating call center operations to business process outsourcing (BPO) providers.

This practical strategy offers many benefits. However, the choice to outsource call center functions should extend beyond cost considerations. Chicago businesses must balance potential expenses with quality assurance and customization capabilities.

This article explores the benefits of call center outsourcing and how to choose the right Chicago BPO company to maximize its cost-saving potential.

A Brief Overview of Call Center Outsourcing and Its Benefits

What is BPO in the context of call centers? It is the practice of contracting an external firm to handle some or all of a business’s customer care functions. These tasks include answering customer inquiries, providing information technology (IT) support, managing sales calls, and processing orders.

Call center outsourcing can be a cost-effective strategy for Chicago organizations to streamline their support operations, making it a widespread practice. According to 360 Research Reports, the global contact and call center BPO market value reached $75.4 billion in 2021.

So, why consider outsourcing call center services? Below is a brief rundown of its primary benefits:

  • Reduced overhead costs. BPO providers typically have sizable operations compared to most businesses, allowing them to take advantage of economies of scale. They can spread the cost of technology, infrastructure, and training across many clients.
  • Better access to expertise. Chicago has low unemployment and high job gain rates, tightening the labor market. Outsourcing providers can access global talent skilled in customer service best practices and etiquette. They are well-versed in different call center regulations, helping to avoid penalties and fines for noncompliance.
  • Advanced technology. BPO providers use the latest call center tools and software to help enhance operations, improve customer experiences, and optimize efficiency. These technologies include customer relationship management (CRM) systems, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, chatbots, and omnichannel solutions.
  • Boosted operational scalability and flexibility. You can hire BPO teams as needed and use their technologies to meet fluctuating customer support volumes. Outsourcing also provides a 24/7 multilingual call center team, allowing your organization to attend to all consumer concerns accurately and immediately.
  • Increased focus on core competencies. Whether your organization is in the e-commerce or healthcare industry, outsourcing customer service frees up your internal resources. You can reallocate the assets you saved, such as money, staff, and equipment, to primary functions that impact your venture’s growth.

Call Center Outsourcing: Cost-Saving Strategies for Chicago Businesses

Although customer service BPO is already a practical strategy, you must take several steps to ensure maximum expense reductions. Conducting a cost-benefit analysis lets you optimize resources and make more informed decisions about outsourcing.

Below is a guide to help you achieve optimal cost savings through call center outsourcing.

Consider All Possible Expenses Involved in Customer Service BPO

Knowing all the potential call center outsourcing costs enables you to avoid unexpected expenses and identify areas where you can save. It ensures you have the budget to integrate the practice into your business model adequately and sustainably. 

Here are a few considerations:

  • Location of the call center. Outsourcing to countries with lower labor and living expenses often entails lower service costs. For example, Outsource Accelerator found that organizations that outsource to the Philippines save up to 70% on labor expenses.
  • Type of call center services. Determine if you need inbound, outbound, or blended call center services. Handling incoming calls from customers (inbound) is typically less expensive than outgoing calls (outbound). Meanwhile, combined services may have a more varied cost structure.
  • Call volume and duration. High call volumes and longer call durations naturally increase the cost per minute or hour. Your business should analyze its call patterns and estimate volume to accurately assess outsourcing costs.
  • Agent expertise and skills. As mentioned, outsourcing lets you access specialized talent. The call center BPO team’s level of expertise affects the cost of your Chicago organization’s initiative. Technical and multilingual proficiency may demand higher salaries.
  • Technology infrastructure and tools. Some BPO firms leverage more advanced technologies than others, such as CRM systems, call recording software, and analytics tools. Partnering with a cutting-edge infrastructure provider can increase your overall outsourcing costs.
  • Customization and integration. Call center outsourcing offers a few customization options to fit your business’s needs. However, you must consider possible fees associated with custom scripts, training, and system integrations.
  • Additional services and fees. Some BPO providers may charge extra for training, quality monitoring, or reporting. Thus, you should carefully review the pricing structure and understand all associated costs before signing a contract.

By understanding these factors, you can optimize call center outsourcing expenses while achieving your desired outcomes and goals.

Compare the Costs of Operating In-House vs. Outsourcing

Once you have listed the potential expenses of call center outsourcing, your next step is to assess if it is more practical than operating in-house. Below is a comparison of the costs involved in both approaches.

Cost FactorsIn-house Call CenterCall Center Outsourcing
Labor Salaries, benefits, recruitment, and turnover. Also, consider the 4.2% increase in compensation costs in Chicago.Agent wages, management fees, and performance incentives
Technology Investments and subscription feesTechnology integration costs
Infrastructure Rent, utilities, furniture, equipment, maintenance, and securityNone due to remote work arrangements. If applicable, providers shoulder these costs.
Training Program development and implementation costs. It may be ongoing.Training provided by the provider may involve additional fees for specialized programs.
Contract FeesNoneIncluded and will depend on pricing structures
Taxes and RegulationsEmployee and payroll taxes, as well as compliance costsBPO providers cover these costs.

Negotiate Rates With Call Center Outsourcing Providers

Call center BPO is a cost-effective strategy for your Chicago business. However, this final step is critical to ensuring maximum savings. Here are a few tips for negotiating a fair deal with potential providers:

  • Assess your needs and goals. Evaluate your current operations. This step helps specify the call center services you want to outsource, your required skills, budget constraints, and performance metrics.
  • Research the market. Analyze and compare Chicago call center outsourcing rates to understand the landscape and benchmark offers. Then, prepare a list of questions to clarify providers’ services and prices.
  • Get multiple quotes. Request proposals from at least three providers to compare service inclusions and rates. Identify each of their strengths and weaknesses, and leverage competition.
  • Use your leverage. When negotiating, highlight your strengths as a potential client, whether long-term commitment or high call volumes. Providing BPO firms with valuable assets gives you more bargaining power.
  • Do not be afraid to say no. If an outsourcing provider’s offer does not meet your needs or is significantly higher than your budget, be prepared to walk away. With the practice’s popularity in Chicago, you can always find a firm that best fits your needs.
  • Review the contract carefully. Ensure all agreed-upon terms are clearly and accurately documented. If you find unclear statements, ambiguous language, or disadvantageous conditions, feel free to ask about them.

Quality Assurance Tips and Best Practices for Customer Service BPO

Call center services can make or break a business in Chicago, impacting its cost savings, profitability, and scaling initiatives. Poor quality can harm its financial health due to repeat calls, increased customer churn, lost revenue, frequent escalations, and legal and regulatory penalties.

Exceptional call center services improve customer experience, satisfaction, and retention, boosting brand reputation and revenue. It also has a positive effect on employee morale and productivity.

However, outsourcing gives you less control over processes than operating in-house. So, ensure you partner with a reliable BPO firm for optimal cost reductions. Here are a few tips on how to guarantee the credibility and quality of a call center provider:

  • Evaluate agents and technology infrastructures. Analyze the provider’s recruitment process, training programs, and agent certification standards. At the same time, assess its technology infrastructure to ensure it meets industry standards and fits your business model adequately.
  • Ask for internal performance metrics. Discuss the BPO company’s standards on service quality. Learn about its performance measurement system, metric tracking approach, and management style. You can also ask about the frequency of its performance reports.
  • Investigate financial stability. Engaging in a short-term call center outsourcing partnership can cost your Chicago business more. During discussions with providers, ask about their financial health to ensure their long-term viability and ability to fulfill contract obligations.
  • Verify certifications and claims. When researching BPO providers, be sure to read client reviews and references. These steps allow you to check the validity of the information on the outsourcing firm’s website or marketing materials. Verify its expertise, experience, compliance, certifications, and awards.
  • Request a trial period or project proposal. This extra step helps you assess if your potential partners fit your organization well. It lets you see what it is like to work with them, giving you an idea of their strategies, processes, and solutions. It also allows you to evaluate possible expenses and returns on investment (ROI).
  • Draft a comprehensive service-level agreement (SLA). When you have chosen a provider, create an SLA. It should clearly define your service scopes, limitations, and deliverables and outline data security protocols, ownership and usage, and disaster recovery plans. Include termination terms in your SLA in case expectations are not met.

Focusing on the quality of service rather than just the price can lead to optimal cost-efficiency in outsourcing initiatives. By following these steps, your organization can comprehensively evaluate a call center BPO provider’s capabilities. 

Once you fully integrate outsourcing teams into your systems, monitor their performance regularly and provide feedback. These actions help further enhance their service and output quality.

Call Center Outsourcing Models and Their Pros and Cons

Different industries have unique regulations, compliance requirements, and customer service needs. Outsourcing offers diverse options for various business needs and budgets. Choosing the suitable call center model depends on specific conditions, such as the desired level of control and the cost constraints of your Chicago organization. 

Here is an overview of some of the most popular models.

Employer of Record (EOR) Services

If you prefer to outsource the administrative side of call center operations, consider EOR services. EOR providers serve as the legal employer of your third-party agents, covering tasks such as:

  • Onboarding and general training
  • Payroll and benefits administration
  • Tax audits and compliance
  • Human resources (HR) tasks

When choosing EOR services, keep in mind their limited customization options. This model typically offers a standardized set of processes, giving you less control over agent selections, training, and additional costs.

Virtual Assistants

You can hire virtual assistants through outsourcing providers. They offer flexible customer service and administrative support based on your defined scope of work, hours, and communication channels.

However, like most outsourcing engagements, working with virtual assistants gives you less control than managing an in-house team. They often rely heavily on internet connection and technology to function effectively. Thus, technical issues and outages would disrupt their work.

Cloud-Based Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)

A one-size-fits-all approach to call center operations is not cost-effective for organizations, considering Chicago’s diverse population. CCaaS solutions offer a high degree of customization, allowing you to:

  • Configure call flows
  • Set call queues
  • Personalize agent dashboards
  • Integrate with other systems and applications

The model’s scalability and flexibility made it attractive, garnering a $29.5 billion global market value in 2021. However, you need technical expertise and continuous subscriptions to integrate CCaaS systems fully into your business.

The Bottom Line

Call center outsourcing offers a cost-effective way for local companies to stay ahead of the competitive business landscape in Chicago. However, partnering with any BPO provider and delegating tasks is insufficient for optimal cost reductions.

Organizations must consider all expenses involved in outsourcing and weigh its pros and cons to ensure it is the most practical choice for them. In addition, negotiating deals, ensuring quality, and choosing the right call center model are essential to maximizing savings potential.

Let’s connect if you want to learn more about call center outsourcing and the best model for your business.

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Ezra Samarista is a history graduate who found a career in and passion for writing during the pandemic. She enjoys copywriting the most but finds content writing and research fulfilling. Her love for learning and simplifying information led her to become one of the minds behind the pool of business process outsourcing (BPO) knowledge that the Unity Connect website offers its visitors. Outside work, Ezra is either creating digital art, playing video games, shopping, spending time with her family and cats, or just sleeping in.
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Ezra Samarista

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