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Why Chicago Businesses Outsource Call Center OperationsIn 2023, the Chicago region was named the top metro in the U.S. for business. This status indicates the area has a highly competitive corporate landscape, making it challenging for local enterprises to scale. Companies can stand out from the crowd by providing exceptional customer service. Thus, many businesses in Chicago turn to BPO to enhance their contact center operations. But what is BPO? Specifically, what is call center outsourcing? It is the practice of delegating contact center management and operations to a third-party service vendor. So how does choosing to delegate call center functions support your Chicago business in providing quality customer service? Below are the most popular benefits of working with an outsourcing partner.
Increased Savings Through Reduced CostsOutsourcing offers significant cost reductions. This benefit is most evident when partnering with a BPO provider operating in areas with lower living expenses than Chicago. The Windy City’s cost of living exceeds the national average by 20%. Here are other ways outsourcing can help you increase cost savings:
- Reduced labor costs. Surging compensation costs in Chicago make hiring local talent challenging. A Chicago-based provider such as Unity Communications outsources operations to the Philippines, a strategy that has historically cut labor expenses by 70%.
- Eliminated benefit packages. BPO companies take responsibility for their teams’ benefits. Their compensation packages include health insurance, retirement plans, and other contributions.
- Minimized overhead. Outsourcing typically involves remote professionals. Such working arrangements help you save on office space, equipment, and utilities.
- Lower hiring expenses. From posting job openings to screening workers, BPO providers cover hiring processes. They also manage their teams’ onboarding and training.
Enhanced Efficiency Through Better Access to TalentConsidering Chicago’s low unemployment rate and its 50,200 additional vacancies, the city’s labor market has become tight. Attracting qualified local labor for call center operations can be difficult, especially since people view the role only as a stepping stone for other careers. Strategic outsourcing lets you tap into a global talent pool, allowing access to experts missing in-house. These professionals have mastered industry trends and best practices for customer support. They can quickly learn about your products, services, and consumers’ pain points. Their other skills include:
- Technical expertise
Improved Agility Through CCaaS SolutionsBPO companies offer state-of-the-art contact-center-as-a-service (CCaaS) solutions. These involve a cloud-based platform that allows businesses to interact with customers anywhere with an Internet connection. Outsourcing allows you to access such modern software without expensive investments, purchases, or subscriptions. It provides several benefits that can help you streamline your call center operations, including:
- Artificial intelligence (AI). Since the pandemic, there has been a rise in the number of digital contact centers. Developers use conversational AI to mimic human language and interactions to provide self-service solutions and automated customer support services such as virtual agents and bots.
- Omnichannel capability. CCaaS lets customers reach out to your support team through various platforms. Whether via social media, email, live chat, self-service portals, or short service messages (SMS), they can contact one of your customer service agents.
- Security and compliance. BPO providers often have a shared responsibility when it comes to data privacy. Thus, they take measures to ensure their infrastructure is secured. They typically comply with data protection regulations such as the Chicago Municipal Code and other federal, state, and industry-specific laws.
Scalable and Flexible Services Through Added ResourcesCall center operations experience peaks and valleys. Outsourcing this task lets you scale your services up or down as needed, enabling you to accommodate fluctuating customer demands. You no longer have to worry about overworking employees with additional staff and high-end technologies to support your contact center processes. Additionally, you can expand your service scope through outsourcing. Here are two popular ways you can improve call center operations by partnering with a BPO provider:
- 24/7 support services. One of the many advantages of outsourcing to a provider in a different time zone is access to round-the-clock staff. Providing support beyond regular business hours can positively impact customer satisfaction ratings and reduce business disruptions.
- Multilingual support agents. A BPO provider’s global call center team includes representatives from different languages. Removing language barriers is essential to providing smooth customer support services. It reduces the risks of miscommunications, misinterpretations, and misunderstandings.
How to Choose a Chicago Outsourcing Partner for Your BusinessCall center BPO services help your Chicago business scale significantly amid a hyper-competitive corporate landscape. However, choosing the right BPO provider can make or break your call center initiative. A failed partnership can lead to more costs and operational or managerial disruptions. The first step to a successful outsourcing initiative is to partner with a BPO provider that meets your business’s goals and needs. Below are a few tactics and considerations you can take in your search for a call center outsourcing company.
1. Determine Your Contact Center Outsourcing GoalsBefore finding a BPO provider, you must know what you want to achieve through outsourcing. Identify specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART) goals to help you succeed. Here are some common contact center outsourcing goals:
- Improve customer satisfaction by reducing wait times, providing accurate and helpful information, and resolving customer issues promptly and effectively.
- Reduce customer churn by understanding customer pain points, developing personalized solutions, and providing proactive support.
- Increase sales by identifying and qualifying more leads, developing and delivering better sales pitches, and closing deals more confidently.
- Improve operational efficiency by automating tasks, streamlining processes, providing 24/7 services, and using data for better decision-making.
- Reduce costs by outsourcing to a provider with competitive rates, negotiating better pricing models, and achieving the abovementioned goals.
2. Assess Your Business’s Needs and ResourcesAfter determining your contact center goals, it will be easier to ascertain what your business requires to attain these objectives. Here are some factors you should consider to identify your business’s needs:
- Contact center services. Based on your objectives, determine which functions your business wants to outsource. Is it customer, sales, or technical support? It is also best to specify if you prefer outbound or inbound services and multi-channel support. These factors depend on your business model and customer base.
- Internal resources. Assess if you have enough in-house staff and infrastructure to perform contact center processes independently. Knowing the resources you lack allows you to short list your potential BPO partners based on the number of agents and technologies they can provide.
- Budget and financial health. Your monetary capacity is another factor in choosing your Chicago business’s outsourcing partner. Proper budgeting ensures your BPO initiative is still more practical than in-house operations. It also helps you maximize the practice’s cost-saving potential.
- Team dynamics. Determine if your in-house operations, team, and management style can work well with outsourcing staff. Do you want to employ an entire team or just a few virtual agents? Assessing these factors helps gauge the extent of your outsourcing initiative.
3. Research Potential BPO ProvidersOnce you have your goals and requirements, it is time to research and list different contact center outsourcing providers. Find top BPO firms through rating websites such as Clutch or Google Reviews. Then, you can read their marketing materials and visit their company website, social media accounts, and industry events. The factors you should consider when choosing your initial list of prospects include:
- Track record and portfolio. Knowing which local businesses a provider has worked with and how it helped its clients scale gives you an idea of their expertise. Read their case studies to get a better grasp of their performance. This step serves as your first impression of your prospects.
- Scalability and rates. Your business will likely grow and change in Chicago’s busy commercial scene. How, then, do you adapt? One way is to choose your Chicago business’s potential outsourcing partner based on its capabilities and rates. Doing so ensures you get your money’s worth and helps determine red flags early on.
- Technology and infrastructure. Although most BPO companies leverage the latest tools and software, some might have the specific technologies you seek. It is best to partner with a provider with the right CCaaS software and the infrastructure to support it.
- Security and compliance. Partnering with a third-party team lets members access sensitive customer and business data. Ensure you choose a provider that complies with federal, state, and industry-specific regulations by discerning which laws your local business follows. It is also best to deduce which data types will be exposed to providers.
- Credibility and reputation. You can verify an outsourcing provider’s expertise by reading client testimonials or requesting references. Reviews and referrals give you first-hand feedback from clients who have worked with your prospects. It paints a clearer picture of what it is like to work with them.
4. Compare Outsourcing and Pricing ModelsSee how your short-listed BPO providers differ from each other. Aside from the key criteria you developed, you should consider your prospects’ outsourcing models. But what is a BPO model? It is a specific method of outsourcing processes, which have varying types depending on location, industry, service, strategies, and structure. Consider relationship-based models and pricing structures for choosing your Chicago business’s outsourcing partner. The following relationship-based outsourcing models govern the method of cooperation between you and your provider:
- Project-based outsourcing. This model involves partnering with a BPO provider for a specific project or task. It is best for short-term relationships and well-defined projects with clear deliverables and timelines. For example, you only need CCaaS support for a month-long service you provide.
- Dedicated team outsourcing. When you use this model, BPO support staff work continuously, mirroring your in-house staff’s operations. It is suitable for long-term projects or continuous support needs. For example, your contact center services require specialized solutions or experts for just one aspect of the operation.
- Staff augmentation outsourcing. You expand your in-house team with contact center outsourcing staff by utilizing this BPO model. It is practical for filling specific skill gaps or supporting your workforce during peak seasons. Using this model is similar to employing CCaaS solutions and virtual agents as part of your full-time operations.
- Fixed pricing. In this model, you agree upon a standard rate for the entire project or service, regardless of the required hours or effort. You can either pay monthly or annually. This pricing structure provides cost predictability but might limit flexibility if the project scope changes.
- Time and materials (T&M) pricing. The actual time and materials used by the BPO provider are the basis of billing rates with a T&M pricing structure. Most of the time, you pay hourly for the resources consumed. This model offers flexibility to adjust project scope but might make budgeting more challenging.
- Hybrid pricing. This model combines elements of the pricing structures mentioned above. It typically involves a fixed price for core deliverables and infrastructure but uses the T&M model for additional tasks in case of unforeseen events. Hybrid billing offers a balance of cost predictability and flexibility.
5. Request a Project Proposal or Trial PeriodOnce you decide which BPO provider to partner with, ask them for a pilot project or run. This extra step gives you a first-hand experience of how well the vendor can service your business. It also helps you choose the right strategies to maximize the relationship between your Chicago business and the outsourcing partner. Consider the following when conducting a test run and gauging provider compatibility:
- Understanding of project requirements
- Relevant experience to the problem presented
- Scope of work and methodology
- Timeline and cost of the project
- Possible risks and their proposed solutions
- Communication channels
- Collaboration strategies
- Develop a comprehensive contract. Put your SLA into practice during the trial period or project proposal. It will serve as the BPO company’s guide and allow them to present an accurate proposal or approach. This contract also helps you better evaluate the outsourcing provider’s solutions, strategies, processes, and capabilities.
- Monitor BPO processes regularly. You must constantly and closely track the outsourcing team’s progress and provide feedback throughout the procedure. You can pinpoint potential problems, address them early, and see how well your BPO provider receives and applies your assessment.
- Conduct follow-up interviews. Feel free to ask your chosen BPO provider extra questions. This step helps further clarify their strategies and address any questions or concerns. It builds a sense of trust and collaboration, which is essential to a successful outsourcing initiative.