Article : So You Finally Chose a Contact Center Outsourcer. What Next?
So you made it through the contact center RFP (Request For Proposal) process and your selection team made their final choice. Is the headache over? Can you finally hand over the metaphorical keys and let your new contact center outsourcer take the wheel?
That would be nice, wouldn’t it? But we’ll be the first to admit that unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. At least, not if you want to maintain outstanding customer service performance. While we always want the transition to be as easy as possible, the moment the contract is signed is actually the moment the hard work begins. That period of time between the award of business and the go-live date is when intense collaboration will most likely result in a seamless implementation, a smooth transition, and effective execution that lasts for years.
Before that first phone call is ever fielded by your new team of contact center agents, there needs to be a detailed implementation plan. This requires an initial meeting, led by your outsourcing partner, to get everyone on the same page. Essential stakeholders from your own team will meet with your executive sponsor, your Program Manager, the Technical Lead, and leaders from Human Resources, Workforce Management, and Quality Assurance. This meeting sets the tone for the key milestones and deadlines that lay ahead.
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Technical Plan and Requirements
A successful long-term relationship with your contact center outsourcer requires careful coordination of all technical components. This is especially true if you intend to retain an in-house team in collaboration with the outsourced team. The two telephony platforms need to integrate flawlessly, to avoid any gaps in delivering a smooth and consistent customer experience. Additionally, bear in mind that contact center technology is always evolving in an effort to engage more effectively with customers (and also to better measure that engagement). Your contact center partner should be prepared for the future of call center technology and understand how that may impact the project down the line.
Call Volume Forecasting Process
Call volume forecasting is absolutely essential to the initial partnership. Taking shortcuts or glossing over this discussion is a recipe for disaster, and can significantly affect customer experience, satisfaction, and retention. Stakeholders on both sides will need to come to a thorough understanding of what arrival patterns and contact volume to expect the moment the phones go live. Your forecast will be an important factor in determining initial goals for KPIs and other vital metrics.
The forecasting process is the foundation of effective workforce management and productive agent scheduling. Accurate forecasts for both slow and busy seasons will help your partner staff appropriately so call volume is well managed. Understaffing can compound stress in your peak seasons. Overstaffing can lead to disengagement in your slower seasons. Both factors can impact your customer’s experience.
Agent Profiling, Recruitment, and Scheduling Strategy
Your unique brand, the nature of your service offering, the complexity of your tools and systems, and your desired customer experience all dictate what kind of person is best suited to engage with your customers. For example, experience tells us that great tech support agents won’t possess the same qualities and traits as effective roadside assistance agents. For this reason, agent profiling and the associated recruitment strategy is a vital step in building the contact center partnership. In our company, we start with neurolinguistic profiling combined with behavioral interviewing and thorough skills assessment in our hiring process. In addition to recruitment, there must also be a discussion about office space requirements, furniture needs, desktop configurations and other workplace requirements that will contribute to the success of your project. This is also the beginning of building a training curriculum for the agents who will be interacting with your customers.
Reporting Requirements and Quality Assurance
Finally, both sides need to determine realistic reporting requirements and establish a governance model that ensures collaboration and accountability. Setting goals and expectations is essential groundwork for ensuring successful execution of the project. It also provides accountability and tangible points of references for establishing benchmarks and assessing progress and quality assurance. Workforce Management should have clear objectives regarding metrics and KPIS that measure efficiency and productivity, such as average hold times, incident rates, and average length of phone calls, as well as customer experience stats such as Net Promotor Scores and Customer Satisfaction Metrics. Clear reporting requirements will help deliver a clear vision of just how effectively the contact center is meeting volume.
Ultimately, building a successful, long-term relationship with your new contact center outsourcer is dependent upon constant communication. From the moment the contract is signed to the second the first call comes in, intelligent planning and goal setting is key to minimizing disruption to your customers.
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About Susan Preiss:
As Vice President, Client Services, Susan Preiss has prime responsibility for process improvement throughout our operations. This is both an inward-looking role as a change agent for continuous improvement of internal operations and a client-facing role as we constantly strive to add value for our clients. Susan Preiss joined Blue Ocean in 2013 as project manager with responsibility for a team of more than 130 agents and specialists providing logistics support for the world leader in networking technology.
About Blue Ocean Contact Centers:
We 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.
Published: Wednesday, January 20, 2016
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