BPO Blog

What to do First Before Searching for a Call Center

BPO Brokers

Call center and BPO services may seem alike on the surface, but specifics can very. Asking questions and researching options among companies can make the differences. Finding the right BPO vendor to fit your businesses needs, start with the following criteria and questions.
International vs. U.S.-Based Call Centers
Where is the call center BPO company headquartered, and where are its agents are located. Offshore call centers are typically more cost-effective, but they offer fewer services and their agents typically have heavy accents that some of your customers might have a hard time understanding. Domestic call centers tend to offer a wider range of services for example, lead generation for building a larger customer base, but English-speaking agents and Software/Hybrid models often mean their prices are higher.
Inbound and Outbound Services
A primary role of call center BPO services is as the voice of the company, to answer customer questions about your business’s products or services. Call centers often provide information or technical support, as well as take orders and process payments over the phone. Call Dispatch in the event a customer needs to speak directly. All of these services fall under the umbrella of inbound services. Call centers offer outbound services, which include lead generation, such as cold calling and compiling survey data. These services can also include follow-ups with previous customers to ensure their satisfaction or to further encourage a successful conversion. Some call centers conduct feedback surveys or engage in customer retention. Traditionally, call center BPO’s were viewed as an expense to service existing customers, but when you consider these additional functions, call centers can actually grow business thru to commitment to satisfied customers. Not every business needs both inbound and outbound services, so Review the differences in the providers offerings respective of each. The best call center BPO services offer both dedicated and shared agents. Dedicated agents are assigned only to your account, giving your company their full time and attention. This is best for businesses with specific, detailed needs that demand familiarity and consistency from their agents. For companies with more general needs, a shared agent might be more appropriate. These services are often cheaper and still effective for companies that don’t require specific attention day in and day out. Some companies offer a semi-dedicated model, which blends cost-effectiveness with specialized attention.
Multilingual Services
If your business is international, you’ll want to partner with a call center BPO that has fluent speakers of multiple languages on staff. Many call centers offer Spanish-speaking services, and others even offer a wide array of languages. If you need a multilingual service, ask upfront which languages or translation services the call center can provide for you.
Reporting
A call center BPO deals directly with your company’s customers, which relates directly to how your business is perceived. Reporting provides you a management tool to evaluate the day-to-day operations of the call center service. Reporting options can vary in level of detail. Some companies only offer basic summaries of how many calls they made or received in a given time period, while others give you access to real-time data analytics, as well a record the audio of calls for review. Before you sign up with a call center service, it’s important to know how transparent and forthcoming it will be and what you can expect from the company’s self-reporting.
Call Center Availability
Another important question to ask is how often agents at the call center BPO are available. Full coverage services have 24/7/365 availability for your customers. Some companies have selective availability requirements based on volume and hours or of operation. All of these needs can be specified when choosing a call center.
Minimum Monthly Call Volumes
Some call center BPO services require a minimum call volume. These services might not be suitable for a small companies which don’t intend to make many outbound calls. For a larger company or one that relies heavily on phone contact with customers, these services might make more sense. Try to accurately gauge your call volume and estimate how many agents you might need before searching for a call center BPO service. This will play a role in pricing, since some call centers charge by minute instead of monthly.
Downtime and Outages
Call center BPO’s are an integral component of many businesses. Downtime can hinder your business if your customers can’t get through to the call center. Partner with a call center that is dependable, with reliable redundancy and a solid disaster-recovery plan.
Contact an Experienced BPO Professional
One of the most valuable tools in your search for a call center partner is to seek guidance from experienced BPO advice from professionals which know the ins and outs of your businesses requirements and and is experienced in finding the right call center BPO resources to offer a seamless extension of your company.

 

The Challenges of Attracting Customers for a small BPO

Understanding the key factors and hurdles small BPO’s face can be the key to success in a competitive marketplace. Knowledge from experienced BPO executives can be an invaluable tool to steer your operation into the fast lane:
• Business Development Representatives are expensive! Hiring good sales talent is always a challenge. Junior level sales people are more cost effective, but may have a difficult time engaging C-Suite and senior company leaders. It can take tenured BPO sales professionals 6-12 months to build a solid pipeline and longer to bring some of these opportunities home. These tenured business development representatives have become accustomed to a larger base (typically $100,000 USD) and a strong commission model (3-2-1 or some variation).
• It’s hard to provide references when you’re a new BPO. You cannot use the 1-2 clients you have as references each time you are in a sales cycle. Typically, a new or smaller BPO will project scale and expertise that they may not be able to demonstrate on a client visit. The “build it and they will come” model is always harder than that.
• Being and smaller or a new BPO provides clients leverage to negotiate very favorable rates. It is a common practice for a BPO to provide heavily discounted rates in order to win their early business. This is a double-edged sword that may provide short term growth in sales and help fill your center, but can hold an organization back in several ways. If the new client is large, they can utilize much of your capacity and impede your ability to bring in higher paying clients. This also creates a situation of dependency. If a large client decides to cancel the contract, this can seriously harm a small BPO.
• Cultural, language, logistical barriers can also make it difficult for nearshore and offshore BPOs to gain market traction with US based clients. It is critical that key operational and account management resources understand this challenge and act accordingly. New clients want to know that their outsourcing partner understands the US B2B and B2C customers. They want to know that their team can effectively communicate with their BPO partner to implement the account and resolve challenges quickly.
Remember, we all have to start somewhere. Build a good team and a solid plan to attract new customers. Have realistic expectations based on the plan you create.