Cookie Preference Centre

Your Privacy
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Performance Cookies
Functional Cookies
Targeting Cookies

Your Privacy

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences, your device or used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually identify you directly, but it can give you a more personalized web experience. You can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, you should know that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on the site and the services we are able to offer.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site may not work then.

Cookies used

Performance Cookies

These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources, so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies, we will not know when you have visited our site.

Cookies used

Google Analytics

Functional Cookies

These cookies allow the provision of enhance functionality and personalization, such as videos and live chats. They may be set by us or by third party providers whose services we have added to our pages. If you do not allow these cookies, then some or all of these functionalities may not function properly.

Cookies used




Targeting Cookies

These cookies are set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant ads on other sites. They work by uniquely identifying your browser and device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will not experience our targeted advertising across different websites.

Cookies used


This site uses cookies and other tracking technologies to assist with navigation and your ability to provide feedback, analyse your use of our products and services, assist with our promotional and marketing efforts, and provide content from third parties


Here are some suggested Connections for you! - Log in to start networking.

Blue Ocean Contact Centers - Blog Page 3

Page: 1 | 2 | 3

Which Comes First: The Contact Center Site Visit or the RFP?

Would you buy a house without first walking through it? Even fully armed with an exhaustive list of property details, features, and listing information, would you really be comfortable forking over your hard-saved down payment and signing on the mortgage without at least taking a tour? Unless you’re a daring risk-taker, the answer is probably not. You need tangible reassurance that your new home will be the best fit (and won’t end up costing you more than it’s worth.)

The same must be said when you’re looking to build a strategic partnership with a new contact center outsourcer.  Before you sign that contract, due diligence is required to make sure it’s the right fit. The contact center RFP is essential, of course, but the contact center site visit is invaluable. The question is, which comes first? The RFP or the site visit?

The Contact Center RFP Process

The RFP is all about discovery, scoping out exactly what functionalities, capabilities and infrastructure you require a partner to fulfill. It will tell you almost everything you need to know, from the experience of the account managers on your project to the training processes of the frontline agents to the intricacies of the technical solution. The RFP process helps you shortlist the number of outsourcers you’re willing to consider.

But the RFP falls short in two places.

First, as valuable as it is at describing all the objective features of the program, it is pretty much entirely useless at telling you much about the culture and environment of the outsourcer. Even if you include questions asking about those very details, no answer can truly capture the intangible nature and personality of a dynamic work environment. And that work environment is what nurtures and supports the frontline agents as they interact directly with your customers. Ensuring that a partner’s culture and environment is a fit with your program requires a site visit.

Secondly, the contact center RFP timeline is by necessity a time-consuming process. Estimates of 4-6 weeks may seem generous but are rarely long enough. The worst part is that you have no guarantee that your short list at the end of the RFP process will even include partners whose environment is the right fit. A real estate listing might tell you the square footage, number of rooms, and age of the house, but it won’t reveal the “character” of the house, how its layout feels, or the integrity of the foundation like a tour and inspection will. Likewise, an RFP can be just as shortsighted, leaving you with a couple of shortlisted options that may not fit the bill once you finally get around to visiting them. And that would put you back at square one.

The Contact Center Site Visit

Time is money. The potential for set-backs in the RFP process is enough to reveal the true value of the contact center site visit. It might even be enough to prove it should happen first. Once you’re certain that the intangible features of a contact center have been met, the RFP process becomes much more certain and effective. Here’s what you should be looking for:

•  Collaboration. A true contact center partner is seeking a mutually beneficial relationship with their client. That means they’re going to want your insight and collaboration regarding the agenda of your site visit. Is this a team you can envision collaborating with on a daily basis? Are they demonstrating trust and transparency, encouraging their employees to interact openly with you? If, instead, management is controlling, using your visit as just another opportunity to pitch the sale, be warned that you may not be getting the whole story.

•  A Friendly Atmosphere. Remember, these people will be taking care of your customers. If the atmosphere is anything but hospitable, can you expect a positive customer experience? Look for friendliness and warmth not only in conversations but also in body language – and across all levels of employee, from agents through to management. Tension or disengagement are warning signs that this may not be the right fit.

•  A Nurturing Environment. Being a contact center agent can be tough. These are the people dealing with complaints, unhappy or frustrated customers, and nonstop phone calls. A contact center partner needs to help their agents from burning out and becoming disengaged. A nurturing physical environment is most definitely part of that; it’s the difference between working in a drab builder-beige cube farm or windowless-dungeon and working in an engaging workspace with loads of natural light and attention to the small details of design. Ask yourself the question: can you picture yourself working there? If you answer yes, that’s a good indicator that your company and the contact center are probably culturally aligned.

When it comes down to it, the decision-making question in choosing a contact center partner is, “can you work with these people?” If there’s close cultural alignment between your teams and your environments, then the answer is almost certainly, “yes.” But ascertaining that alignment is only possible through an in-real-life site visit. Once you have a handful of yeses on your hands from a small number of outsourcers, it will likely speed up the RFP process and decision-making.

But what about the expense? The expense of site visits is probably the number one objection to scheduling them before the RFP process. In all honesty, we’re not denying that conducting a number of site visits can get costly when you figure in travel and accommodations, not to mention the time of whomever is visiting. However, those costs are a small drop in the bucket compared to the investment you’re making in a new contact center partner. When you’re trusting “strangers” with the intimate and ongoing relationship with your customers, that initial cost of a site visit is inconsequential compared to what you’re willing to invest to ensure the greatest customer experience. Finally, wouldn’t you rather dismiss the bad fits first rather than risk they make it to your RFP shortlist in the place of worthier opponents?

Partnering with a Contact Center Outsourcer

At the end of the day, finding the best-fit partner for your outsourced contact center is paramount to success. How you go about finding that best fit will be a unique process that reflects the nuances and individual requirements of your organization. However, the site visit is invariably the piece of the puzzle that ensures cultural alignment, the foundation to your partnership.

Looking for a contact center outsourcer? We’d love to chat more in our sun-lit offices over a steaming mug of good coffee. Let us know when you’re ready to visit. We’ll be waiting. Click here to send us a message.


Want more info? Download one our complimentary eBooks for more insight:

•  What Your Outsourcer Should Tell You About Hiring Contact Center Agents: A Client’s Guide

•  The End-to-End Contact Center Solutions Buyer’s Guide


Publish Date: July 24, 2017

What You Need to Know When Looking for a New Contact Center Outsourcer [Slideshare]

Looking for a new contact center outsourcer is rarely as simple as it sounds. That’s why we’ve pulled together our top “How To” procurement tips so you don’t have to spend hours hunting down the resources.

From call center outsourcing costs and RFP questions to onboarding and strategizing with your new outsourced partner and their workforce management team, this Slideshow provides a high-level outline of everything you need to know. Check it out below.


The End-to-End Contact Center Solutions Buyer’s Guide from Blue Ocean Contact Centers


For more insight, get your End-to-End Contact Center Solutions Buyer’s Guide today.


Publish Date: July 11, 2017

5 Top Procurement Tips for Seeking an Outsourced Contact Center

Looking for an outsourced contact center partner is one of the most complex undertakings for any strategic sourcing professional. It requires a thorough understanding of the contact center world as well as the inner workings of your organization’s processes, business objectives, and brand promises. Finding the right contact center for you is going to take more than a strategic RFP. Here are our top procurement tips for seeking an outsourced contact center.

1. Start with the Basics

An internal assessment builds the foundation of your search. These might seem like basic questions, but they get everyone on the same page and on the right trajectory for the best fit partner. Make sure you’re asking, why are you looking for a new outsourced contact center in the first place? Are your current operations in-house and becoming a burden? Or is your current outsourcer falling short of your expectations? Where are there gaps in efficiency or effectiveness? Where do your current customer service efforts show weaknesses or blind spots? Are you able to scale? How are you measuring success? Are your processes fully optimized? What are your competitors doing in the customer service space? All these questions and more will help you set the stage for determining what an optimal solution actually looks like.

2. Nail Down Your Needs

When you have a thorough view of what your current customer service situation looks like, you can start gathering your specific requirements. This will aid you in communicating the scope of your project to a potential outsourcer. Make sure you document the details of your hours of operation, forecasted call volume (including peak seasons and times), what languages you’ll need supported, what digital channels you may need support in, and the breakdown between inbound and outbound calls. What skill sets will your agents need, and what technical integrations do you require? Furthermore, what are your expectations regarding KPIs and desired service levels? These are all critical factors to be aware of when seeking an outsourced contact center.

3. Ask the Right Questions

Both in the contact center RFP and in one-on-one discussions, it’s imperative to ask the right questions to make the most informed decisions. On the RFP side, ensure that the questions you ask are specific to the contact center sector, rather than replicated from a general RFP document used in other industries. Ask pointed questions about an outsourcer’s corporate culture, hiring process, and employee engagement practices. These are the areas where a contact center can truly differentiate itself or, conversely, fall disastrously short. Another common mistake is in asking questions that are too broad, particularly in the realm of metrics. For example, if you’re asking about attrition in the contact center, be sure to make the distinction between voluntary and involuntary attrition as well as asking about attrition rates in projects of similar scope and industry, and within a specified period of time. In short, ask the right questions, or you risk comparing apples to oranges and, as a result, making a flawed decision.

4. Look for Collaboration and Value

There’s no shortage of companies who choose a call center purely for cost-effectiveness. While there is a time and place for this business model, it doesn’t hold universal value. While we agree that cost-savings and efficiencies matter, you have to find a valuable balance between price and quality service. Contact center outsourcing means you’re trusting customer-facing interactions to people outside of your organization and corporate culture. This trust can only be found in a strategic, collaborative partnership that puts delivering value over cutting costs. You need to look for an outsourcer that focuses on assimilating its team of coaches and agents into your brand, understands the importance of the customer experience, and invests their time and resources into thorough reporting and reviews. In other words, look for commitment. If it’s not obvious in your discovery process, it probably won’t ever exist.

5. Get On-Site

Once you’ve nailed down a handful of contenders who made it through the RFP round, the next crucial step is to make a site visit. Getting the tour of a potential contact center partner will provide insight that no brochure, RFP, or phone call can deliver. It’s the kind of insight that will help you make the final decision with peace of mind. Here are a few things to keep in mind on your site visit. First, is there an agenda to your visit and how much of your input on that agenda did the contact center ask for. Second, does the work environment reflect the corporate culture they sold you in the sales and RFP processes? Is it welcoming and hospitable? Do agents appear engaged and motivated? Assess the body language of everyone you meet and evaluate how relaxed and spontaneous conversations are with employees and leaders. At the end of the day, can you picture yourself working with the people you’re meeting? Do you feel like you can trust them with your customers? Does their culture align with your own? Without this firsthand experience, it’s all too easy to miss important details about how a contact center functions and interacts.

Are You Seeking an Outsourced Contact Center?

We know that finding an outsourced contact center partner is complex. It’s a decision that must make sense for your company both today and for the future. Internal assessments, requirements gathering, smart questions, collaboration, and site visits are all part of the framework that will lead you to success. However, these procurement tips are just a small handful of ways in a sea of many to ensure you’re making the most informed, strategic decision. We’d love to chat more about your specific needs in the realm of customer service and other contact center services.

Looking for a strategic outsourced contact center partner? Start the conversation by clicking here.


Publish Date: June 21, 2017

What Your Outsourcer Should Tell You About Hiring Contact Center Agents: A Client’s Guide

Are you exploring outsourcing for the first time? Or perhaps you’re looking for a better alternative to your current contact center vendor? Either way, the idea of trusting someone else to take care of your customers can be overwhelming. You’ve worked hard to build your brand and establish customer loyalty. Can an outsourced contact center really live up to that?

That’s where finding out about a contact center’s hiring practices is vital. Frontline agents are the backbone of customer service. So, when you’re knee-deep in the discovery and procurement process, you need to be asking the right questions about what hiring those agents looks like.

Our latest eBook is your guide to everything you need to know about hiring contact center agents. Here’s what’s inside:

• Agent Success Starts with the Hiring Profile
• Why Gamers Make Great Agents
• Diversity in The Contact Center
• Finding Agents Who Love Your Brand
• An excerpt from Harvard Business Review: Kick-Ass Customer Service


Publish Date: June 13, 2017

The Truth About Attrition in the Contact Center

At first glance, attrition seems like a chink in the armor for contact centers. Across every industry, the fact that people leave their jobs and move on is a basic truth, but in the contact center, the attrition metric receives quite of a bit of negative attention.

In fact, the International Customer Management Institute pegs the average call center turnover rate at 33%. That’s definitely a number that may sound like cause for alarm, but how insightful is that metric when you break it down? From our perspective, it’s almost meaningless without diving in deeper.

It’s common practice to ask about attrition rates in the contact center RFP, but the answer is not as straightforward as you might expect. In fact, if you’re looking for a new outsourcing partner, your understanding of attrition will can impact your choice of potential partners. Here’s what you need to know.

Not All Attrition Is Created Equal

Turnover in the contact center happens for a wide variety of reasons. Even the typical divide between voluntary and involuntary attrition isn’t enough to explain what’s really going on.

One of the most important differences is that the employee experience is simply different in the outsourced world than it is in-house. It’s not uncommon that people apply for outsourced contact center jobs when they’re in career transition. They might be moving from one industry to another or from one region to another, and the contact center is a great place to gain experience before moving up in their career. We’ll talk more about how this kind of employment experience can create good/bad attrition in a moment.

It’s important to understand that career path opportunities impact attrition. It’s a pretty typical in a call center for people to move only within the agent to supervisor to program management role trajectory. That’s why we work very hard to create a differentiated employment experience on our programs wherever possible. We’re looking to create upward career paths for people who have different goals and varied skill sets. We know that projects with multiple paths for advancement tend to have lower turn-over. We work with our clients to build programs that provide career paths not just for the obvious “people managers” but also for knowledge specialists, process people, and data analysts. It benefits our clients and our employees when high potential employees can advance within the program. But with an outsourced program, here’s where the attrition/employment experience differs from in-house: when an employee is promoted from a program role into a corporate role or when they transfer from one program to another, the client experiences “attrition” even though the outsourcer doesn’t.

So let’s look at what we like to call good attrition versus bad attrition. If an employee leaves us because they’ve been able to leverage their Blue Ocean experience to take a step forward in their career or in their life, that is okay with us. The fact that those agents or coaches had an employment experience with us that helped them grow professionally is a sign that we’re hiring great people who are engaged, high-performing, and highly motivated. If an agent or coach leaves us to go to an equal job with another employer or take a step backward in their career, that is concerning to us and we examine those circumstances very closely. Yes, there are also quits and terminations that result from the occasional low performer or bad attitude, but it’s critical to understand that not all attrition is created equal.

Comparing Apples to Apples

It’s a dangerous myth that a company-wide attrition rate will tell you something about the company’s hiring and retention practices, the caliber of people they employ, and their training and engagement strategies. The truth is, when an outsourcer has 20 different clients of varying industries, services, and sizes, an average attrition rate just isn’t effective.

Your first step in discovering a more accurate attrition rate is to ensure you’re comparing apples to apples. The turnover rate for a roadside assistance project three times the size of your tech support project just isn’t going to compare (and the average rate between the two won’t help you much either.) When you’re writing a contact center RFP, any questions about attrition should be related to projects that are similar in scope, size, and industry.

It’s also important to find out how an outsourced partner analyzes their attrition rates and what the root causes are. At Blue Ocean, for example, we have seen a direct correlation between attrition rate and speed of launch. If we compromise the early, important work related to agent profiling, recruiting, and training to meet a launch deadline, it almost inevitably impacts the turnover rate some 6-18 months later. Likewise, a client’s level of collaboration in the implementation process will also influence the attrition rate. If both parties are committed to investing the time and resources to develop a solid agent profile and training program and if the timeline provides the recruiting team with sufficient breathing room to get the right people in place, that will pay off in spades down the road.

Ultimately, an apples-to-apples comparison should not only include industry, size and scope of the project, but also details that relate to the big picture. It is possible to build a strategic partnership with your contact center, and the quality of this relationship has a major effect on attrition.

Asking the Right Questions About Attrition

Hopefully it’s hit home by now that the question you do not want to be asking is, “what’s your contact center attrition rate?” it is simply too vague and it’s open to interpretation. Whoever’s answering your RFP could pick and choose from a variety of scenarios, including quit rates, involuntary turnover, or both. They might zero in on similar projects, or they might choose company-wide rates. They might calculate the average attrition rate based on the last five years, or focus on the last 12 months. In answering questions about attrition rates, contact centers will want to portray themselves in the best light. If you don’t get specific in what you’re asking, it’s likely you’ll end up comparing apples to oranges. You’re probably not going to get a meaningful answer, you won’t necessarily get the same kind of answer from your various bidders, and it doesn’t guarantee that your program will have a similar experience with the partner you choose.

Specific questions about contact center attrition are great, but so are questions that fall just outside of the realm of attrition. You’ll get a bigger picture when you also start asking about agent tenure or about hiring stats like referral rates. Or take a different tack altogether and dig deep with questions about employee engagement which has a significant influence on attrition … Keep reading for more on that topic.

Understanding Employee Engagement

The trickiest thing about the concept of attrition is that it’s not always a bad thing. It’s easy to associate turnover in the contact center with a bad working environment or low performers, and assume, therefore, that all turnover is negative. But retention does not necessarily equal engagement.

The truth is, if we put more value on improving our attrition rates than building a great employee experience, we would be working hard keep agents even if they had become disengaged. But with disengagement comes underperformance and low quality customer service. In short, we’d be doing you a disservice. If, however, we build a workforce of employees who are highly engaged while they’re here and then leave for the right reasons, we consider that a win-win scenario.

So, go ahead and ask about attrition, but balance it out by asking about employee engagement, and get specific on those questions too. Get a clear picture of the employee experience and ensure that you’re aligning your partner’s culture with your own.

Attrition in the Contact Center

At the end of the day, attrition isn’t going away. But we can stop acting like it’s a dirty word. When you accept the reality of a minimum turnover rate, it opens the door to developing a strategic partnership and bearing mutual responsibility for maintaining that minimum and managing the workforce and employee experience appropriately.

It’s time to get smart about attrition rates. If you’re looking for a new contact center partner, we’d love to chat.


Publish Date: June 6, 2017

The Evolution of Self-Serve Customer Service

Ever have one of those days when you simply don’t want to talk to anyone? That day inevitably coincides with the renewed urgency of the task you’ve been procrastinating over: calling customer service to fix your computer/check your warranty/renew your membership/reset your password.

We know you hate calling tech support. We know you’d rather not “press one for yes.” We certainly get the irritation of being left on hold forever. And so it’s unsurprising that we’ve seen a growing popularity in self-serve customer service. Variations include Tier 0, IVR, automation, and artificial intelligence, and they all have one thing in common: you no longer have to interact with a real live human being. It’s not a new concept, but it has evolved over the years.

If you’re looking to outsource your call center, self-serve at some level will likely be part of your solution design. Tier 0 support has the potential to significantly reduce transactional call volume, while simultaneously engaging your customers on their own terms. However, automation in customer service also carries the risk of negatively impacting the customer experience. Finding a sweet spot is vital.

What Self-Serve Used to Look Like

Assuming you’ve already cut the cord with the few companies that never upgraded from the earliest forms of self-serve customer service (aka “IVR Hell”), we probably don’t have to remind you what Tier 0 support looked like “back in the day.” It’s that circular, primitive version of self-help where you get stuck in an automated loop of endless numeric options and voicemail boxes. Good luck finding what you need.

Companies that implemented the earliest versions of Tier 0 technology were likely excited by the possibilities. It was cutting edge. It relieved agent bandwidth. Their customers hold times were reduced. Most of all, it drove down call volume, resulting in lower call center costs.

But being lowering costs came with a different price: customer frustration and compromised customer loyalty.

What Tier 0 Support Looks Like Today

Today’s self-serve or Tier 0 customer service is heavily focused on customer satisfaction, and as a result, the technology has become increasingly elegant, better integrated, and – most importantly – more user-friendly.

Self-serve is an integral part of omni-channel customer service, seamlessly integrating with the customer experience across social media, live chat, email and phone. Every transaction is captured and stored so that when a customer does eventually interact with a live agent, the agent understands the customer journey and what steps they’ve already taken towards reaching resolution.

Building the right Tier 0 strategy requires a lot of collaboration with your frontline agents as well as a comprehensive understanding of your brand and its promises. It’s not a simple matter of bringing in programmers and saying, “automate this function.” Your customer care team members, including frontline agents, are critical resources in helping to decide how and what to automate. They’ll know which kind of processes and queries can be easily and effectively translated into self-serve customer service. And they’ll know how to communicate it all in a way that aligns with your company’s brand.

It’s also worth mentioning here that engaging a self-serve option or triggering Tier 0 is rarely the first step in the customer journey map. A great self-serve strategy is acutely aware of everywhere a customer may go first before picking up the phone. This includes both online customer support and crowd-sourced customer support. Think of your iPhone or iMac for a moment. Although Apple has a wealth of customer support channels, many people will turn to public forums before they go to Apple’s website, store or phoneline. Being aware of the reasons why people might turn to crowd-sourced customer support is essential in building a strong self-serve strategy.

How Self-Serve Fits into the Customer Experience

We’ve already mentioned the companies that went with the primitive self-serve customer service automation when it was shiny and new. They wanted cost-effectiveness and excitement, and many of them implemented it on every level. On the flip side, though, are companies that go kicking and screaming to Tier 0. Their core belief is that they want 100% agent interaction for every query. But this is equally detrimental to the customer experience.

Sure, your 87-year old grandmother probably wants nothing to do with self-serve. But according to IBM, 75% of Millennials want to solve their own issue. As an ever-growing portion of your customer demographics, supporting the specific preferences of this generation of consumers is vital. When they have a problem with their computer/car/password/membership, they will almost always go to Google first. From there, they will turn to social media, FAQs, public forums, and live chat before they pick up the phone. If you can pleasantly surprise them with a simple, elegant self-serve option via phone (or better yet text or chatbot) that solves relatively simple problems, then you’ve just gained a notch in their level of loyalty (which, as studies show, is fragile and difficult to gain in Millennials in the first place).

Interestingly, although the Millennial generation prefers less human interaction in their customer service, they do value personalized support. That’s where Tier 0 support – and strategic omni-channel service in general – has upped the ante. The proliferation of data that floods into the call center from every channel helps to build a very specific profile of each customer, which enables an agent to personalize their interaction and deliver a differentiated customer experience.

Leveraging Self-Serve Customer Support in Your Call Center

The beauty of an intelligent self-serve solution is that you can redirect your agent efforts to much more complex customer service situations. The auto club member who is experiencing an emergency wants human support not a chatbot. The network administrator who’s troubleshooting a critical issue that impacts enterprise stakeholders needs a partner in the process to make the right decisions and take the right actions quickly. The caller who’s genuinely befuddled by the fine print on their insurance contract wants less frustration and more clarity. These are scenarios where frontline agents are the star of the show. Putting your resources here – instead of the password resets, the membership activations, the billing transactions – benefits both your customer and your bottom line.

We’d love to provide more insight into how Tier 0/self-serve customer service fits into the big picture in your contact center. Let’s chat.


Publish Date: May 23, 2017

Chasing Unicorns: Is It Possible to Have a Strategic Partnership with Your Contact Center?

True or false: your outsourced contact center provider is just another vendor. Attempting to establish a strategic partnership with your contact center is like chasing a unicorn.

It’s a valid question. There are plenty of areas of your business that you outsource without a second thought. The place you order office equipment from or the cleaning crew that comes every day are important to the life of your company, but they’re not really a “partner” in the full sense of the word. When we think of partner, we think of someone who is as invested in your company’s success as you are. A partner is committed to your strategic goals and is a key collaborator in helping you achieve those goals. A partner, in fact, is willing to share risk with you for your long-term success even if it means perhaps taking a revenue hit themselves. And a partner can make decisions with a comprehensive understanding of what’s important to your organization and your customers. In that context, is it actually possible to have a strategic partnership with your contact center?

After 23 years in business with the majority of our client relationships spanning eight to ten years, we say yes. It is possible. Below, we explore some of the myths that the naysayers might have you believing.

Myth #1: Outsourcing is About Cutting Costs Not Adding Value.

We all have that image in our heads of the stereotypical call center where there’s been no investment in the agent experience and all the energy goes into keeping overhead low. You know what we’re talking about… the windowless offices with rows and rows of depressing cubes. But those ugly stereotypes represent a just slim segment of an industry and there’s a reason this bad reputation exists. It comes down to the choices those businesses have made in putting cost-effectiveness over value.

Yes, efficiency and cost-savings matter. Our workforce management teams and operations teams work hard to refine staffing models and improve efficiency – their expertise is essential to driving cost out of our clients’ businesses through productivity and efficiency gains. These metrics are important, but the other side of the ledger is the customer experience – and lifetime customer value. We understand there is a business model for low value transactional work. And there are outsourced models that support that kind of requirement. But in today’s world, the conversations are focused more and more on how a contact center partner can drive that volume down (or even away) through self-serve or “Tier Zero” solutions while adding value to a client’s complex support requirements that can’t be met through self-serve options. That’s where the strategic partnership comes into play: build a solution that positively impacts your CSat and/or NPS and that maximizes customer loyalty and drives long-term revenue while driving down expenses that don’t deliver long-term value. For one of our clients, a global player who has been with us for more than ten years, we have driven 60% of transactional work out of our program while concurrently tripling the size of the program. How does that even make sense? We are constantly looking for new ways to add value and evolve the program like any good strategic partner would.

When we’re deep in your systems on a daily basis, tracking customer engagement, placing orders, and solving issues, it gets easier to see where there are possible gaps in your processes, where procedures could be streamlined, or if any errors exist in your databases. In fact, some of these weaknesses could be the culprit for increasing call volume, a scenario in which we could actually profit, since contact center costs are in part dependent upon volume. We could choose to profit, or we could choose to act in your best interest and reveal the opportunity for process improvement. And that’s exactly what a strategic partner would do. If a potential contact center outsourcer doesn’t broach the subject of process improvement, quality improvements, risk mitigation, service improvement, etc., then you can’t be sure if they’re acting in your best interest.

When your procurement team is in search of a new contact center outsourcer, they must understand that a true strategic partner will always put value ahead of cost. Cost reduction cannot be a primary driver behind the way your contact center does business. That’s one serious reason why asking for contact center pricing shouldn’t be your first question.

Myth #2: You Sacrifice Your Culture When You Outsource

A recent article titled, “Why My Company Stopped Outsourcing Customer Service,” claimed that an outsourcer could never build the kind of culture that delivers the level of quality service you could achieve in-house. Respectfully, we disagree.

It does, however, take a very strategic partner to align their solution with your needs, brand, and culture. The author of this article writes, “it’s a huge mistake to leave these valuable customer interactions to strangers.” But that’s just it: a strategic partner is anything but a stranger. From the moment you start the discovery process between procurement and sales, we make the effort to find out everything about your company. Once the contract is signed, it’s an intense process to establish your unique customer journey blueprint, nail down the exact hiring profile of the perfect agent to represent your brand, train those agents in your systems, and assimilate them into your culture. But it doesn’t stop there.  If there is one thing we’ve learned in 23 years in business, it’s that successful relationships are built on good governance. For us that means a commitment on both sides of the client-partner relationship to invest in a formalized relationship management process that extends from daily contact to weekly status updates to monthly and quarterly business reviews. We take this so seriously, our president and the senior leadership team attend all our client QBRs. It becomes a mutual effort focused on process improvement and shared strategic vision. How, after this much interaction, could we ever be considered “strangers”?

At the end of the day, your customers shouldn’t even realize that we’re an outsourced call center. The author writes, “outsiders will never have the same level of commitment to your vision.” But that’s where he’s wrong. If we don’t have the same level of commitment to your vision, then we know we’ve failed before we even started. Find a contact center with this core value, and you know you’ve found a genuinely strategic partner who is committed to helping you grow.

Myth #3: Outsourcing Robs You of the Connection to Your Frontline Agents

The author of that article stated that working with an outsourced partner robbed his company of the chance to identify stars within the organization. Again, we respect the author’s experience, but we have clients who would state that they had the opposite experience with outsourcing. Success comes from committing to regular investment in the relationship at all levels.

It takes time and attention, but it is completely possible to have a relationship with an outsourcer that builds a unified team from frontline agents to senior leadership on both sides. Regular site visits where you as the client can have roundtables or focus groups with your agents can be a useful strategy. We know from experience that engagement is enhanced when agents know our clients by name and know that their experience on the frontline is heard and valued. Regular video conferencing supports the relationship between visits. And for us, our clients expect their quarterly reviews to include updates on stellar performance by agents and coaches. In these ways, identifying stars and building careers is entirely possible. We can count four or five clients who have hired for their key positions from within our ranks. That is a true success measure.  There are people working today in management positions for the world-leader in networking technology (our client) who started their careers as agents with us. That is a win-win-win, for our former employees, for our employer brand, and for our client who got smart, capable, new managers with valuable experience gained while working for us, their contact center partner. That doesn’t happen by accident. It happens through attention to governance, communication, and regular calibration of mutual goals.

Here’s one way we sort of agree with the author. He states, “You get what you pay for.” We would paraphrase that to say, “You get out of a strategic partnership exactly what you put into it.” If you want an outsourcer who operates as an extension of your own operating team, make that a priority in how you source that partner and how you participate in the relationship. If you want to hand the keys for your customer care to a call center and sit back and wait for it to work, chances are your vendor is going to fail to meet your expectations.

Chasing Unicorns Just Got a Little More Exciting

In short, a strategic partnership with a contact center can exist. Aiming to establish that elusive relationship is a lot less hopeless when you know you’re not chasing the impossible. We hope it’s a little bit more exciting too. We’re passionate about the way we do business and the commitments we make to our clients’ brands. We refuse to work with companies who want just another vendor, because a partnership is mutually beneficial; we can help each other succeed.

Let’s talk strategy. Tell us about your contact center needs today.


Publish Date: May 16, 2017

7 Crucial Questions to Ask in the Contact Center Procurement Process

Some of our most popular blog posts are the ones that help potential clients navigate their way through the procurement process for contact center services – especially content that looks at what questions to ask potential vendors.

The first quarter of the calendar year is typically a busy time in the world of contact center RFPs and site visits, so we’ve updated this previously published piece for those who are in the trenches of procurement right now. This post focuses on the end zone of the buying process with a look at seven of the toughest questions to ask your potential partners. How your prospective providers answer these hard-hitting questions can help you whittle that short list down to one clear winner.

If you’re looking for more detail about the contact center procurement process, get your End-to-End Contact Center Buyer’s Guide here.

7. Where are the two biggest gaps in your capabilities?

Make the potential partners get specific. You want to go into a long-term relationship with your eyes wide open. Every company has things they could do better. Your potential partner should be frank about theirs. If their strengths offset your weaknesses and vice versa, you should be in good shape.

6. What is your reporting going to tell me that I don’t already know?

A data dump of yesterday’s (or last week’s) volume and grade of service represents little more than a scorecard of a center’s performance. Meaningful contact center reporting allows you to glean insights about what happened yesterday (or last week) that contribute to informed decision-making and help achieve your business outcomes.

5. How is your training and development different from the next guy’s?

If the vendor makes the claim that training is a differentiator, make them prove it. Look for stats like total agent time spent in continual training. Look for investments in process and people. Do they have a team of corporate trainers? Do they invest in peer mentors and coach development? How do they approach testing for applied knowledge? What third-party validation can they offer to support their claims – awards, client testimonials, accreditations?

4. Who poaches your frontline people?

This may seem like an odd question, but it tells you a lot. If the vendor says, “Poaching isn’t a problem – no one poaches from us,” maybe that’s because their employees are not sought after in the marketplace. They might have a “warm body” mentality toward hiring contact center agents. We consider it a good sign other employers of choice in the market are working hard to try to poach our center’s people – or when our clients hire our people to go work for them. For us, that’s the pure gold and it happens more than you would think.

3. What did you learn from the last client who fired you?

Beware of bull@#$%. “We’ve never been fired.” We’d call BS on that. You’re looking for a real answer that tells you something about the organization’s ability to self-assess and to adapt and change.

2. What will winning my business mean to your strategic goals?

It helps to see where you fit in the big picture. You want to know how important your business will be to the vendor once the contract has been signed and the quarterly sales target is met. Go ahead and ask: where will we fit in your client roster – will we be a top five client? Top ten? Small, medium, or large program in your client base? Be sure your view of how you want your program handled is aligned with where the prospective partner sees you.

1. What percentage of time will my project manager give me day-to-day?

Hold their feet to the fire. In fact, the answer to this question could be something to include in your SLA and something you can scorecard performance against. Whatever the model of your solution – shared, dedicated, or semi-dedicated – you want to understand exactly what that means in terms of time and attention from the project management team before you sign the contract.

If you are seriously considering call center outsourcing as a solution for your business, make sure you get the ‘true’ resolution of the potential vendor you’re looking to use. We’re happy to answer these hardball questions.


Publish Date: March 28, 2017

Page: 1 | 2 | 3

About us - in 60 seconds!

Submit Event

Upcoming Events

Europe's leading call & contact center event is now arriving at the U.S., showcasing the latest and most effective technologies, strategies and advancements to industry professionals who are looking to excel in the customer engagement world!

Disco... Read More...

Newsletter Registration

Please check to agree to be placed on the eNewsletter mailing list.

Latest Americas Newsletter
both ids empty
session userid =
session UserTempID =
session adminlevel =
session blnTempHelpChatShow =
session cookie set = True
session page-view-total = 1
session page-view-total = 1
applicaiton blnAwardsClosed =
session blnCompletedAwardInterestPopup =
session blnCheckNewsletterInterestPopup =
session blnCompletedNewsletterInterestPopup =