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

#contactcenterworld, @BlueOceanTweets

Outsourcers play a huge roll in world-wide business and sometimes the question is "To outsource or not to Outsource?" This article by Michael Hasler, Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Blue Ocean Contact Centers, examines what it means to invest in an outsourcer with a true partnership in mind.


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?

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.

#contactcenterworld, @BlueOceanTweets


About Michael Hasler:
As Blue Ocean’s Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, Mike Hasler has responsibility for our corporate brand and accountability for strategic growth from both new and existing clients. Mike’s experience provides him with understanding of the contact center industry from both the client-side and the perspective of solution-provider. Mike’s over-riding philosophy is that sustainable, successful partnerships begin with asking smart questions and truly listening to the answers. Mike applies discipline and vision to the process of building successful, lasting business relationships.

About Blue Ocean Contact Centers:
Company LogoWe thrive on delivering critical customer service solutions that go beyond transactional interactions. As such, our goal is to enhance lifetime customer value, providing support that is a reflection of your brand promise, even in high-pressure, complex customer service scenarios.
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Today's Tip of the Day - Understand the Processes And The Culture

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Friday, June 2, 2017

Printer Friendly Version Printer friendly version

2021 Buyers Guide IVR

 
1.) 
Call Center Studio

Call Center Studio
Call Center Studio is the world’s first call center built on Google and is one of the most secure and stable systems with some of the industry’s best reporting. It is one of the most full-featured enterprise grade systems (with the most calling features, one of the best call distribution, outbound dialing features and integrations—including IVR, AI Speech Recognition, blended inbound/outbound calling and includes Google’s new Dialogflow and Speech API. Call Center Studio is the absolute easiest to use (with a 10 minute setup), and is the price performance leader with lower equipment cost and less setup time.
PH: +1 512-872-7565

2.) 
Computer Data Services, LLC

VIRTUAL PBX
Get the benefits of an expensive, on-premise telephone system without the high price tag and annoying maintenance.

- Never miss another phone call
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PH: 216.662.5870

3.) 
Megacall

Virtual Switchboard
Megacall provides a fully customised Virtual Switchboard software for all companies (including IVR service). No matter the size of your business, our services adapt to the needs of each client.

Are you looking for a more effective way to communicate with your customers? Discover the advantages of using the IVR and how it can help in your communications.
PH: +34 952 667 511

4.) 
MightyCall

MightyCall's IVR that will increase your business’s efficiency at a fraction of the cost of a secretary. Your auto-attendant is designed to:
- Greet callers
- Deliver necessary information
- Forward calls to the appropriate extension
- Take human error out of the system
PH: +1 (888) 256-8312

5.) 
Nuxiba Technologies

CenterWare
Provide your customers with an effortless self-service experience. Easily create menus using predefined or custom prompts and data dips and route customers to live agents when needed.

Enable your customers to make payments and access information 24/7 at their convenience. Request a quote or live demo today.

6.) 
OpsTel Services

SPEED
The SPEED solution solves for service level issues while cost optimizing the environment with automation.

Provides an enhanced way to speed up & optimize invoking temporary agent skills configuration changes into the contact center environment.

Speed allows you to schedule both future changes & temporary changes that auto-revert back to the original state when scheduled time expires.

Speed features:

*Automated / Scheduled Temporary Agent Skills Configuration Management
*Immediate Temporary or Reoccurring Schedule Skills Configuration Changes
*Easy to Use/Operations Administration Focused
*Descriptive Monitoring Activity Dashboard
*Detailed “End to End’ Audit Trail and Performance Monitoring
PH: 1+480-435-9390

7.) 
Teckinfo Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

IVR Edge
IVR Edge is a high performance, robust and scalable ivr system that works on various leading hardware such as Dialogic, Keygoe and Synway etc. It can handle the simplest of simple to the most complex of requirements to when it come to creating an IVR. Integration with any 3rd party database, be it for banking, telecom, insurance, travel, payment gateway etc can be handled with ease. Ideally suited to create Hosted IVR and virtual patching solutions with scalabilities that can range from 4 to 128 E1’s per setup with voice recording and CDR functionality. Integration with leading text to speech (TTS) and speech recognition ASR engines add to the flexibility and functionality.
 

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