By Mark Fichera, CEO, OnBrand24 If you're a first-time user of a call center company you might be unsure what to expect, or ask, of your service provider. Having been on the service provider side of the equation for many years, here's my recommended approach to hiring a call center. The first principal: Agree with the call center provider on program goals based on measurable results. Then, hold them to it. Like direct mail and social media marketing, one of the great attributes of telemarketing is measurability - and, by extension, call center accountability. So how do you keep a call center accountable? Start by developing a list of priorities and objectives - also called a "Service Level Conformance" - that you and your call center manager agree on. The objectives of your campaign may change as you gain better understanding of your telemarketing strategy. If your call center lacks the flexibility to set individual performance standards for your campaign - or balks at any of these items - you should probably look for another service provider: OK, so here's a check list: - Results Coding: The result of every call, be it inbound customer service, outbound lead generation and appointment setting, should be coded for tracking and analysis. This is critically important for adjusting and refining your campaign, which you should do in concert with your call center project manager. Results codes include: Appointment Set, Forwarded Customer to Client, Answered Caller's Question, Survey Completed, Sale Completed. - Success Rate: Depending on the type of campaign involved there is a "best outcome" call result, such as scheduling a sales call for an appointment setting campaign or completing a sale or successfully resolving a customer problem for an inbound program. Set a mutually agreed-upon goal with your call center manager for successful calls per week or month. - Internal Measurement: As the client, measurement of your telemarketing campaign extends beyond the call center's results report. For outbound programs, it's smart to track the quality of their sales leads, assessing the level of interest and appropriateness for your product or service offering. For inbound programs, code your ads and have the call center incorporate them into their results report - and then adjust your ads according to those that generate the best results. - Cost per Call: Call centers with advanced telemarketing technology infrastructures can measure results and costs to a high level of granularity, including breaking your campaign's costs down to the individual call. Ask your provider for project costs per call and hold him to it. - Productivity: Similarly, the call center should provide data on call volume handled per FTE per week or month. Productivity targets vary depending on the nature, length, purpose and detail-level of the campaign. Work with your campaign project manager on setting productivity targets. - Abandoned Calls: An objective measure on inbound call center quality is the percentage of abandoned calls. Your call center should pick up calls within a pre-agreed time limit. - Service Resolution: This is another measure of inbound call center effectiveness. Agree with your provider on a target rate for call center resolution on first contact calls. Target rates vary based on the complexity of the product or service involved. Set a goal that reflects your program. - Call Agent Availability: This is a measure of the speed with which call center agents resolve phone calls. You want to balance speed with effectiveness. Get your telemarketing provider to set an aggressive standard for agent availability. - Service Response: This is a measure of the time required to answer calls. Obviously, the faster the better. Your call center should validate the time it takes for calls to be picked up. And the most important measure of all: - ROI: This is what call centers are all about, right? Lower your cost of doing business and boost your revenue. For outbound campaigns, OnBrand24 clients typically realize returns of between 5-1 and 10-1 of realized revenue over telemarketing fees. For inbound, results vary widely because campaigns vary widely - but I encourage you to press your call center for some level of ROI expectation. That's the gauntlet you should put your prospective call center through. If it passes, you're already well on your way to a strong, profitable relationship.
Publish Date: June 9, 2010 1:19 PM