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 requirements.

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 the centre

Measure service levels, accurately and objectively.


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