Switching Gears: Moving Your Contact Center Nearshore/Offshore

03 November, 2022



Manage expectations after moving a domestic contact center

The time has come – you’ve grown to the point that it’s time to outsource your contact center.

The fate of your brand is now in the hands of contact center agents thousands of miles away. And your customers’ satisfaction rides on the ability of agents in this center to answer their questions accurately and quickly.

You expect to cut costs – and done properly – you will. But you have to temper your expectations with this new paradigm. The most important aspect of outsourcing your customer service, the true bottom line, is how well it supports your customers’ experiences. If a contact center service offers you the lowest rate but agitates customers and harms your brand, the return on investment is not going to be worthwhile.

To manage your customer’s experience – and your own – you may have to change your perspective on agent training. Getting a U.S. agent up to speed on your household name is not the same as preparing nearshore or offshore agents who may have not heard of your product and likely may not have used it. To set the expectation here, training is not a one-to-one trade-off.

While U.S. acculturation may be more involved, particularly if you’re incorporating regional components – customers in Maine don’t always have the same accent or purchasing habits as customers in Louisiana – you may also have to impart the “why” into the basic training. Providing context and perspective to the customer experience is invaluable.

This extra layer of training can add infectious passion to your agents’ interaction with your customers. When agents can solve issues and provide solutions that truly delight your customers, you’ll appreciate the added attention training required and the dividends it provides.

While training and acculturation will take time, the time it takes for an agent to achieve the proficiency of a domestic agent can be slower. Agent performance is rarely a 1:1 scenario but should you expect an equal trade?

If you are receiving upwards of 50% savings on agent costs, can you reasonably expect the same level of proficiency? Instead, you may be getting 80% proficiency after 30 or 90 days, but you are getting that discount. Instead, expect a longer runway for your new outsourced agents to get fully up to speed. The lift is heavier upfront, but the eventual payload will be greater as well.   

Too few new entrants into the outsourced BPO relationship appreciate the value of transferring knowledge to your new partner. Institutional or ‘tribal’ knowledge can be spread throughout your entire organization, finding a home based on personalities and leadership rather than operational effectiveness.

Your domestic agent training may have been a collaboration of several different departments, each with its unique perspective, value and contributions. But now, all that knowledge is to be funneled and reside with your BPO partner. If it doesn’t happen, your customer’s experience with your brand will suffer.

A key player on your team is the trainers who formerly trained and prepared your agents. Their mandate now is to ‘train the trainers’ who work for your BPO partner. These individuals are the seamless conduit of your brand and values to your customers. In fact, the entire BPO team, from sales to operations to account management should be involved in this seamless transfer of knowledge.

You don’t have to relinquish the levers of control in an international outsourcing partnership, but proper preparation and execution are necessary to manage your expectations.   

You can reduce any disconnect between agents and your customers by addressing any potential irritants, like social conventions with customized training that offers scripting options and guidelines for agents who, with time and experience provide a sophisticated experience with every customer interaction.