Three Common Traps to Avoid in Your First Contact Center

20 October, 2022


Common Missteps Continually Threaten Successful Implementation

By Scott Newman, CEO, Transparent BPO

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

It wasn’t an easy decision, but you’ve exhausted all your options. Your internal customer experience team is struggling to maintain service levels. The recruiting and operation teams are stretched when trying to attract and keep qualified agents. And your leadership position isn’t what it was three years ago. Most importantly, your competitors are gaining ground or maybe even outperforming you.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) vendors vary greatly. Select the right one, and you could have quick success. Pick the one that doesn’t match your business, and it could be the bane of your existence. As much as you might be facing pressure for a quick decision, putting in the time upfront will pay dividends in the long run.

Despite good intentions, companies continually fall into the same three traps.  

Trap #1: Focusing only on the price reduction and not ensuring a smooth transition

Some companies act as if they’re buying a large-screen TV on Black Friday when looking for outsourced contact center services. They get a great price and suddenly convince themselves it’s a limited-time offer and rush into a contract.

This is a mistake.

It can be tempting when you see a proposal that has an hourly agent cost that is a fraction of your domestic, in-house labor rate. If they cannot deliver the service you expect, you could save your way into trouble.

Your contact center operations consist of much more than just the agent’s hourly cost. Consider how your BPO partner recruits and trains agents as well as middle managers. What investment have they made in the technology used onsite? Do they have redundant security and service capabilities?

Seek a BPO service provider that is transparent with their numbers and has a plan in place to increase agent retention.

Without the involvement of the BPO provider’s middle and senior management early in the process, you risk a smooth transition from your in-house contact center to your new outsourced vendor. These management teams oversee day-to-day activities but without their buy-in and involvement, your operations will be disrupted and inconsistent, but most importantly, your agents won’t understand their role in the bigger picture.

Poor or misaligned management structures compromise the free flow of information from the contact center floor to your clients. Typically, a lack of middle management engagement is also a signal of high turnover in these ranks creating additional friction in your operations and putting your goals at risk.

Trap #2: Not being involved during the initial training and agent onboarding.

Be wary of the BPO that says they have your training program under control. It’s tempting to relinquish this responsibility and consider it your vendor’s task. Without your involvement in laying this foundational cornerstone in your BPO relationship, you not only lose control of how your agents will be trained, but you lose control of how the ‘trainers’ are trained.

Walking away from this critical step sends you down a path where you don’t know how trainers will be filtering your curriculum and grooming the agents who will eventually become the voice of your company. If these trainers don’t understand your brand, how will your customers? 

Abandoning any involvement in the initial training and onboarding sessions is also a missed opportunity to collect and transfer sensitive institutional or tribal knowledge that only you have. Typically, we find our clients build their business internal processes, methodologies, and tools over years where practices are adopted and discarded. However, clients are usually not disciplined in documenting and codifying their intellectual knowledge.

This knowledge is sometimes scattered throughout several levels of your company from HR to customer experience operations to marketing. Is it realistic to believe that this expertise can readily be transferred to a vendor thousands of miles away in a different country?

Failure to embed your trainers in the new contact center ensures this knowledge will be lost as your staff move onto new roles, join different companies or simply retire.

Trap #3: Not focusing on building a true partnership.

A narrow client/vendor relationship is not a partnership.

Focusing on labor arbitrage puts blinders on clients who fail to establish a true partnership. During every step of the selection process, they fail to evaluate whether the provider is asking the right questions. They don’t focus on who is asking the questions. Are they don’t care if they are potential vendors listening to their challenges?

This arcane relationship ensures there will be a failure to communicate, including escalation of any issues. Problems will remain on the contact center floor infecting your agents and eventually your customers.

Without a true partnership, you won’t have any way to evaluate performance nor will you have any line of sight to how your partner plans to meet your performance milestones or provide feedback on what is working and what needs your attention. Without this level of engagement, you won’t achieve a partnership approach where both your interests and the interests of your contact center provider benefit.

An outsourcing partnership can quickly sour if the partners don’t agree with goals and values, as well as open communication to manage issues and opportunities that arise. Understanding this in advance helps you identify the best BPO provider, set up the partnership for success and manage with greater effectiveness.

Used correctly, outsourcing can deliver benefits such as cost reductions, ability to focus on core business competencies, improved quality, enhanced skills capabilities, reduced time to market and competitive advantages. Organizations that make outsourcing a core competency will be well positioned.