Outsourcing or Insourcing: 8 Questions Simplify Your Contact Center Choice
After over 20 years of executive experience, there’s a point when you realize you’re not Superman. You know your strengths but acknowledge specific skills are outside your forte. The same goes for businesses. That’s why I’m a firm believer in doing what you do best and outsourcing the rest. Yet before anyone decides to work with an outsourced contact center, I recommend they compare outsourcing against insourcing to determine the right fit for their business and their goals. By asking these questions about your business, you’ll simplify your decision and improve your ability to choose the right contact center.
(Want even more valuable insight into choosing a contact center solution? Download our Contact Center Buyer’s Guide today.)
How Complex is the Task?
The complexity of a contact center function is a primary consideration. When a task is simple or routine, outsourcing is the clear choice. The transition to an outsourcer removes the responsibility from your plate with little adversity – they’re masters of the task and know how to acclimate fast and efficiently.
There are two ways to handle more sophisticated tasks:
- You can maintain them as internal processes. Out of an understanding of your business (and pure necessity), your internal team can work through major obstacles with a modicum of success. Hire the right internal people and you’ll perform that task with elite precision.
- You can trust outsourced contact centers to do what they do best. With extensive experience, there’s little new under the sun (or at least the contact center industry) that an experienced, process-driven partner can’t handle. During the RFP process, you can verify their competencies around similar challenges in their responses and determine whether insourcing or outsourcing is right for you.
Is it Core to Profitability?
There are two ways of thinking about this question. Some companies will assume that functions integral to their core profitability are best served by internal resources. Most expect their employees to prioritize their brand and values instinctually, realizing their work has a direct impact on your bottom line. That’s often true – if an organization properly trains their insourced agents and engenders some devotion to their ideals and standards. Yet it’s not as much as a given as you’d think.
The other way recognizes outsourcing with a committed partner can close the brand knowledge gap and act as an extension of your brand promise to quality. Nike is the classic example. They took a function that appeared as a focal point of their core profits (manufacturing shoes), and entrusted it to a capable outsourced partner. Because of this, they saved $0.15 per unit thanks to improved productivity and lower waste. When an outsourcer comprehends your values and goals and holds themselves to the highest quality standards, trusting core profitability functions to them can be a rewarding decision.
Do You Have the Right Infrastructure in Place?
Your contact center agents are only as effective as the tools at their disposal. If they’re working with anything less than a network of interoperable platforms and systems, then your customers will not be wowed. Here’s a glimpse of what contact center agents and leadership use on a daily basis to deliver remarkable customer experiences:
- An interaction management tool for a cohesive omnichannel customer experience and a contextual customer journey
- A sophisticated VoIP system to enable smooth transferring, call recording, queue management, and even interactive voice response (IVR)
- A ticketing system for monitoring support tickets and overseeing escalations
- A reporting tool that maximizes contact center data, provides real-time dashboards, and runs unique reports
Sound like a lot? There are platforms that combine the functionality of all these different tools, but the cost adds up. Contact center software varies greatly in price but can easily cost $100 per agent for a cloud-based solution. When your business chooses an outsourced contact center, all of those infrastructure costs are packaged into your agreement. It’s more than just shifting which organization pays the cost upfront. Because an outsourced partner requires a higher number of software licenses, they can often get a better deal per agent. By working with the right partner, outsourcing saves money on these essential tools.
Do You Have Operations Offshore?
As a global contact center, we see value in managing onshore and offshore contact center resources. For example, an American English speaking customer base will appreciate nearshore or domestic contact center services for over-the-phone interactions, but might not notice a perceptible difference when an offshore team provides email customer support. In that instance, offshore contact center agents might drastically reduce the cost of operations.
If you already offshore operations, insourcing might prove a cost-effective solution – if you meet the right caveats. Does your offshore facility have space for additional employees? Do you have the above IT infrastructure to support contact center agents? Do you have a resource in place to onboard and maintain training? If your answers lean more toward no, then an outsourced contact center partner is a better choice. A center with preexisting offshore capabilities can find you the most cost-effective solutions – no matter what the situation.
Are You Subject to Federal or State Regulations?
When your industry is subject to strict regulations, it shapes every aspect of your decision making– and your contact center is not excluded. Some companies choose to insource their contact center agents to avoid the hassle and risk they associate with outsourcing. Yet there are a growing number of outsourced partners with a mastery of regulatory compliance protocols.
Consider a PCI-DSS compliant or healthcare compliant call center. Proven partners are well-versed in putting security measures and best-practices in place to avoid the exposure of sensitive data. For example, our own contact centers take actions to safeguard your customers’ personal information by investing in secure systems, forbidding recording devices on-site, and prohibiting our employees from using their personal devices on the floor. The final decision is yours, but you definitely have secure and trustworthy options.
Do You Have a Training Program in Place and What Is the Duration?
Good contact centers grow and evolve at every level of the organization. In almost every scenario, an outsourcer will yield better results. It’s like comparing casual training within your corporate softball league to the daily drills, workouts sessions, and one-on-one coaching of the MLB. An outsourced contact center is just better equipped to maximize the performance of their agents.
By nature, we’re an industry rich with data and collaborate with industries that are changing in groundbreaking ways. For our contact center teams to continue providing the best service, we need a framework to facilitate structured training and one-on-one coaching with our agents.
Let’s use social media customer service as an example. Research shows that consumers increasingly expect a response within an hour of their social media complaint, and 78% of businesses still think responding in 12 hours or less is okay. If you’re one of these companies, then your agents need guidance through time-saving measures keeping them efficient and effective all at once.
Ongoing training keeps your workforce adaptable and enables them to pivot as priorities and best-practices change. The right outsourced contact center partner is practiced in bringing agents up-to-speed and adapting with the times. Not only do they have a fine-tuned onboarding process to train agents from the outset, but many have internal QA teams to identify opportunities and impart new information or habits in a formalized way. At TLC, we use ongoing mentoring and one-on-one coaching to instill members of our team with all of the information and best practices they need to know to thrive.
Regardless of duration, outsourcers make it out ahead. They’re exceptional at short training periods because they know all of the best practices and latest innovations. For longer periods, they’re capable of digging down deep into the material and processes, making the most of training to mold exceptional contact center agents from talented people.
Can You Measure Contact Center Performance?
If Google’s any indicator, successful businesses are built on how well they understand their data. In the contact center world, there are some common KPIs that determine the achievement of your agents. First Contact Resolution (FCR), Net Promoter Score, Average Call Abandonment Rate, and others help diagnose the potency of your contact center programs. However, staying attuned to all the right KPIs is only useful if you know how to take the right next steps.
How do you improve FCR? Grow your Net Promoters? Lower your abandon rate? If you’ve never done it, there’s a steep learning curve to surmount. Though it’s not rocket science, it takes more time than most organizations need to expend – especially when it’s not for their primary discipline.
The right outsourced provider is well-versed in taking actionable steps from contact center KPIs. Especially if their leadership team possesses plenty of contact center experience. Our own leadership team pulls from years of first-hand knowledge, recognizing which strategies will yield a measurable ROI and which are no better than treading water.
Is an In-house or Outsourcing Environment Best?
What is the actual working environment like? There’s no universal answer for whether outsourcing or insourcing is best. Instead, compare your organization’s facilities to potential outsourcing partners. The right environment should live up to this specific criteria:
- Privacy is given paramount importance – Contact center agents receive and review sensitive customer information. For this reason, every contact center team should be secluded from the rest of the business. No unauthorized foot traffic. No cell phones, cameras, or other personal devices. Just agents working on approved hardware to keep your customers safe and satisfied. This reduces the possibility that your customers’ personal information will fall into the wrong hands.
- There’s a sense of purpose – Contact center agents are at their most effective when their work feels meaningful. That requires direct involvement from leadership, reinforcing the potency of each win and communicating how an agent’s work is central to the business. Though it may seem counterintuitive, the right contact center is often better at this practice. They’re experience at connecting the dots from contact center performance to revenue growth, customer engagement, and satisfaction. For that reason, they’re better at sharing a message of meaning with the team.
Still not sure if outsourcing or insourcing is right for your business? We’ve created a guide to simplify your decision and help you narrow down your options.