My Contact Center Vendor Isn’t Working! What Should I Do?
Buyer’s remorse is a matter of scale. Paying for a shoddy 5-iron online stings for a little bit. Paying for poorly-executed, low-ROI services from a third-party vendor wounds much deeper. Unlike bad consumer goods, you can’t demand a full refund or simply cut your losses – especially when that vendor is entrenched in your customer care or outbound and inbound sales support. Abruptly pausing either inflicts serious damage on your brand and bottom line. How do you go about transitioning your contact center in-house or to a more reputable partner? Follow these guidelines to mitigate the negative impact on your business and revamp your ROI.
Diagnose the Problem
Where did it all go wrong? More than just asking a rhetorical question, identify the root cause of your dissatisfaction. Many problems with your contact center vendor are now obvious – unfulfilled SLAs, irrelevant metrics, plain bad customer care practices – but the early warning signs were not.
Your ordeal with a bad contact center vendor will alert you to identical red flags, but in-depth research and some healthy introspection pinpoint the others. Increase your knowledge of contact center procurement with these questions:
- Did you comprehend your actual needs? Look at your own process first. Choosing an outsourced contact center based on the wrong requirements is no more strategic a choice than spinning a roulette wheel. Call center vendors specialize in their own blend of different industries, contact center services, program sizes, and business objectives. Accurately defining your program forecasts, digital channels, long-term goals, and desired contact center agent profiles drastically improves the success of your outsourced partnership.
- Were their metrics off-base? The right customer service metrics make or break a program. Not only do contact center KPIs gauge the health and ROI of a program, but they set the tone for your agents. Focusing on measurements such as First Call Resolution (FCR), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), and Agent Attrition make the remarkable experiences of everyone involved (customers and agents) a priority.
On the other hand, overemphasis on metrics like average handle time (AHT) makes customer service transactional, skimping on customer care that keeps consumers loyal to your brand. In all cases, ensure your procurement team watches for any mixture of measurements that substitute extraordinary experiences for speedy (and fleeting) resolutions.
- Was your vendor a good fit? Consider this: good dancers aren’t always good dance partners. Neither person will be at their best without a firm comprehension of their partner’s strengths, a desire to genuinely collaborate, and natural chemistry. An outsourced partnership is similar. Your contact center needs to understand your goals and strengths, match your communication style, and be ready to align themselves with your culture.
How do you spot a copacetic partner? Evaluate their level of engagement from the start. Do they take the initiative to understand your specific needs? Are they quick to reply with responses and updates? Do they present ways to improve the relationship in the planning stages? If you answered no, then be sure to leave that partner off your short list.
Respond with the Right People
A rocky road requires a good driver at the wheel, and successfully transitioning your contact center requires the right team. The exact roster depends on whether you decide to bring your call center in-house or shift to another call center outsourcing partner. Let’s look at the two scenarios:
- Choosing in-house customer service – Assimilating contact center operations back into your organization is not a cut and dry process. Look at a well-functioning center. On the surface, it runs through the hard work of well-trained agents. But who trains those agents? Who coaches them to overcome their shortcomings and adopt best practices? Who conducts quality assurance to refine practices and achieve the best ROI? Who maintains your CRM software and VoIP infrastructure? One person would collapse under all that responsibility, but a full team can manage it handily. Before you interact with a single customer, fill all of those roles – either with current employees or new hires.
- Using another contact center – This option is far less labor intensive on your part. You need a single point of contact to interface with the vendor’s team. Behind the scenes, the right outsourced call center will have a comprehensive contact center team in place to deliver the best ROI for your program. However, their ability to retain top talent is of equal importance. If a contact center’s A-players lack opportunities to grow, they will leave and put the quality of your contact center program in a regular state of flux. Before you choose an outsourced partner, review how they treat and cultivate their greatest assets – their people.
Nail the Handoff
Identified top challenges? Check. Selected your team? Check. Now, it’s time to prepare your call center transition plan. From the moment you decide to leave your call center vendor until your new program’s launch, there are a litany of actions to take.
- Prepare your handoff timelines – A thorough call center transition plan accounts for all of the various timetables. How long will it take to find, hire, onboard, and train your workforce? What about reviewing, selecting, implementing, and testing contact center software? Or preparing training programs and review schedules? All of these processes need mapping out before the torch is passed.
- Track metrics early – Any effective contact center program needs to keep their finger on the pulse of important metrics. More than just knowing what’s important to a contact center’s efficiency and ongoing growth, your organization needs to have the right tools and processes in place to track those metrics. Otherwise, your program will remain static in a truly dynamic world.
- Brace for surges – Even with carefully forecasted call loads, a program launch can experience unexpected spikes in volume. The trick is to have reinforcements waiting in the wings to maintain high-quality customer service. Whether your new contact center program is in-house or through a vetted outsourced partner, hire backup agents.
Sound like a lot? We’d be lying if we said that it wasn’t. However, putting comprehensive preparation into your next contact center decision will improve your ROI and replace feelings of guilt with overwhelming satisfaction.
Ready to put your customers in better hands? Start by identifying the right partner. Download our Checklist for Choosing the Right Outsourced Contact Center and take the next step toward extraordinary experiences.
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