Outsourcing call center operations with the right provider should not only offer superior customer experiences, the provider in true partnership with the client should ultimately construct a core strategic competency that will continually provide high rates of return for the client
Westborough, MA (PRWEB) April 13, 2009
As the United States economy experiences its most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression, an increasing number of companies are recognizing the benefits of outsourcing all, or at least some of their call center operations, this according to a new analysis by FFP Global, a provider of Business Processing Outsourcing Solutions. In addition, the FFP Global review indicates that while it is not a monumental shift, domestic options are gaining traction not only for political reasons, but more notably because of evolving applications and business process integration requirements.
Other key findings of the FFP Global review indicate:
- Companies are hedging their risks by employing multiple providers in order to enhance service levels and determine optimal benchmarking metrics.
- Even industries such as pharmaceutical and healthcare which traditionally prefer to keep call center functions in-house are exploring call center outsourcing options because of economic/financial concerns.
While the primary value propositions for outsourcing call center operations have typically focused on decreasing costs, taking advantage of new technologies, reducing capital investments, employing scalable infrastructures and gaining access to best practices; the revenue side is emerging as a prime consideration. Also, despite the stressful environment in which many companies are operating in, the decision making process on whether to outsource is being conducted in more methodical and strategic ways compared to previous periods where a singular justification such as projected costs savings carried overwhelming weight.
In order to take advantage of a fertile market, call center service providers face several challenges:
- Addressing inherent concerns such as performance quality measurements, customer data security and even government regulations.
- Developing new delivery models that recognize the increasing complex nature of customer interactions and integration with a multitude of business processes.
- Moving from a transaction mentality to a strategic partnership mindset driven by continuous improvements in business processes for both the call center and the client.
In general, the perceived loss of control is the challenge outsourcing needs to address, says the FFP Global analysis. "I've been on both sides of the equation, and would say that outsourcing call center operations is comparable to the first instance you hand over your child to somebody for an extended period of time. No matter how diligent your review, there's always going to be questions whether you made the right decision," said Joe Sarno, Vice President of Sales at FFP Global.
The New Paradigm Means Being at the Core
"The benefit most often cited about outsourcing call center services is that it enables companies to better focus on their core competencies. However, this is a very incomplete, if not flawed assessment as it suggests that customer interactions do not have strategic implications. Today, a customer interaction in all its forms, whether an inbound phone call, web chat or email exchange, can have a profound multiplier effect and bottom line impact when these experiences good or bad instantly traverse online media and social networking spaces and pick up a life of their own," says Steve Lynch, Vice President of Strategic Accounts at FFP Global.
"Outsourcing call center operations with the right provider should not only offer superior customer experiences, the provider in true partnership with the client should ultimately construct a core strategic competency that will continually provide high rates of return for the client," says Lynch.
He has identified five key foundations of a successful partnership:
- Understanding the total picture
- Employing people able to focus on the challenge not simply their functional roles
- Collecting all data and having it accessible 24/7
- Emphasizing knowledge development and transfer - both operationally and strategically
- Committing to continuous improvement
Traditionally call centers have primarily been used in a reactive role. However, in today's world there's much greater emphasis on developing new personalized and proactive applications including:
- Lead generation, surveys and customer retention
- Cross channel communication marketing and sales campaigns
- Health and medical support
- Providing emergency assistance
- Industry-specific solutions
Overseas Outsourcing of Call Center Services Now Under the Microscope
As the demands for call center services increased in the 1990's, countries like India and the Philippines aggressively positioned themselves as viable call center outsourcing options. Accordingly, they were quite successful in attracting computer, financial services and software related firms.
However, it did not take too long for friends and family members to share their frustrating experiences of talking to somebody in a distant country and for this to also become the brunt of late night talk show jokes. Cultural idioms often created uncomfortable communication barriers and prevented agents from admitting they misunderstood something or even worse offended the caller. Plus, conversations were often conducted over less than stellar voice networks.
From a company's perspective, when problems arise in the operation of an off-shore call center, not only does the company face the same cultural barriers their customers confront, the geographical distance makes problem resolution in real-time, even with video conferencing, a considerable challenge.
"A growing number of U.S. based companies that shifted call center operations overseas have come to the realization that the projected cost savings is diluted by significant customer dissatisfaction, outright defections and many other hidden costs that negatively impact the bottom line," said Sarno. "These experiences don't mean that in every instance foreign outsourcing creates a problem, but what it does illustrate is that outsourcing is an involved undertaking," he adds.
With the unemployment rate continuing to rise, the public relations and political pressures to keep call center jobs in the United States is substantial. In addition, recent political uncertainties in foreign countries have quickly escalated into broader disruptions. As a result, many companies are dividing up their outsourcing activities among domestic providers.
FFP Global believes that outsourcing call center operations to foreign countries will continue to be a reasonable option especially since we live in a global economy. However, the choice where and to whom will require a deeper analysis with U.S. based options earning more consideration.
Sectors Driving Call Center Growth
The FFP Global analysis identified a number of sectors which will drive the growth of domestic and global industries. They include:
- Insurance &Financial services
- Advisory / Concierge
About FFP Global
FFP Global is an award-winning, business process outsourced solution provider for Fortune 500 companies and emerging businesses. FFP Global helps companies manage every point of the customer lifecycle, from customer acquisition and engagement, to fulfillment and retention. FFP Global is a minority and woman owned company. For more information on FFP Global visit http://www.ffpglobal.com.