January 4, 2011 | Leave a Comment
Want to outsource your call center? One frequent objection is that the third party call center staff is less likely to be able to answer all the questions customers throw at them, and it’s a legitimate concern. Simply answering calls and taking orders may sound like a simple enough task, but in reality, when customers call it’s seldom as simple as that. Customers want to know whether a product can be used in a different way than advertised. They want to know details about the company’s other products, or they want to know about the shipping schedule. They may be calling the order desk but all they really want to know is how to fix the product they already have. Can a third party call center halfway around the world handle these requests?
The point is, customer calls are never routine, and that’s why some companies resist outsourcing this function. The argument is that call center employees that are in-house can more easily access other departments, transfer calls that are outside of their domain, or obtain information that goes beyond the basic order-taking function.
But what that flexibility hinges on isn’t access, it’s education. In-house call centers can be just as stovepiped as any other function, and often, that is precisely the case. Keeping it in-house doesn’t necessarily solve that problem. What does solve the problem—whether the call center is in-house or in Bangalore—is educating the call center staff on how the company operates, how the products function, and even minor maintenance and repair that would be traditionally outside the domain of order takers.
This is facilitated in two ways: First by removing the isolation that often exists in the call center. Even in-house call centers are often set apart from the rest of the company, with call center staff having very little access to other parts of the company. But as the call center is often the point of first customer contact, it’s vital for those staff to be knowledgeable about the entire operation. In-house, this is just a matter of policy. When outsourced, isolation can still be overcome, especially with the availability of collaborative technology and audio conferencing.
The second way this flexibility is facilitated is through e-learning. With easy, modular training units, a call center staff member can quickly and easily learn precisely what he or she needs to learn, in a short period of time. This can be just as easily delivered to the outsourcing provider’s call center staff, as the company’s own in-house staff.
Successful outsourcing is never a 100 percent hands-off proposition—providing that agency with the knowledge it needs to do the job right, and represent your company in the best possible light, is essential, and providing corporate e-learning modules to the agency will help to make a more successful outsourcing arrangement.
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