Managing the relationship
Many outsourcing relationships fail because
of bad management of the Call Centre Service Provider by the
client or failure by the Call Centre Service Provider to deliver
to agreed expectations. Both parties should view the relationship
as constantly evolving and should behave accordingly.
The client’s or Call Centre Service
Provider’s market dynamics may change and a good relationship
will develop if each party is willing to adapt its business,
within certain guidelines, to meet the other’s evolving
As the client, you should view the Call Centre
Service Provider as a strategic partner. The Call Centre Service
Provider should prove its partnership credentials by adding
value to the relationship: developing innovative solutions,
reducing your unit costs, etc.
Effective management of an outsourced contract
is dependent on
Clear defined business outcomes.
Simply stated, the design of the contact
centre solution should be dictated by the following parameters:
• The level of service the organisation
wishes to provide to its customers and that, based on experience,
will generate positive business outcomes. Compromising on
service quality is a false economy, since it deters rather
than encourages loyalty or repeat purchase.
• Budget availability. Contact centres
are traditionally seen as representing a business cost rather
than a revenue enhancing service, and budgets are set accordingly.
More enlightened organisations will formulate their budgets,
not simply on the basis of the total cost of service delivery
or on the short term ROI to be gained through productivity
improvements, but on the long term business value they can
deliver through improved revenue enhancing outcomes. All the
more reason why Call Centre Service Provider should be rewarded
on service quality and the outcomes they create.
• Forecasts of the numbers, types,
duration and timing of the contacts and processes the centre
will need to handle, based on either historical experience
or, in the case of start up centres, informed assumptions.
Each of these parameters should be discussed
openly and confidentially with the potential Call Centre Service
Provider partners before selecting the Call Centre Service
Provider and negotiating the contract.
Only then can the Call Centre Service Provider
build and accurately cost a contact centre solution that will
meet the organisation’s expectations.
Good performance metrics measure results,
not just activity, and they are kept to a minimum.
Select service levels that will deliver those outcomes.
Traditionally, Call Centre Service Provider performance has
been measured on standard productivity criteria – such
as calls per hour and average call duration. These are cost
and efficiency, rather than effectiveness and quality centred
measures and can create an imbalance in the Call Centre Service
Provider focus that has a detrimental impact on customer service
by promoting agent behaviours which can act against the interests
of good conversations.
For example, by using tight scripting or
by imposing controls on call durations, the ability of the
agent to identify and address what the customer really wants
can be significantly reduced.
While productivity measures cannot be abandoned
altogether, where possible they ought to be subservient to
measures of conversational quality, customer satisfaction
and business outcome which facilitate the ability of the agent
to understand and meet customer’s needs
The core then of a good contact centre operation
is the ability to produce good conversations with customers.
The customer is the lifeblood of any organisation
and the outsourced contact centre is its public face. Every
effort should therefore be made by both sides to ensure that
customers have a positive experience whenever they contact
Measure service levels, accurately and objectively.