Do it Right, Part II

Key Factors with Contact Center Outsourcing

While the affordability and accessibility of outsourcing is attractive, it is critical to evaluate potential providers before confirming your commitment to a BPO contact center. Experience, capacity and a commitment to building your brand top the list, since a contact center lacking in any of the above will hurt your business far more than it will help.

Industry Experience
A customer care contact center’s industry experience is the first thing you should consider when evaluating a provider. The industry is filled with fly-by-night call center service companies with eye-catching websites but minimal industry experience. When evaluating options, you should seek a provider with the following:

One of the best ways to verify a contact center’s industry experience is to reach out to them and request references. If they have successfully handled the needs of a Fortune 500 company, then there is an increased likelihood that your needs will be met as well.

Scalability and Capacity to Properly Serve Your Customers
A contact center should have the staffing and tools to ensure that your customers receive prompt service. As you evaluate providers, you should look for the following capabilities:

Commitment to Communicating Your Brand
One of the primary reasons why some business owners are reluctant to engage a BPO center is the fear that outsourced staff will not properly convey their company’s brand value and mission. By partnering with a vendor who offers dedicated services and an experienced account manager, you will be working with a company that is committed to articulating your products benefits and your brand’s value proposition. At CallCenter.com, you proof the script and our agents read your script but it doesn’t end there. An integral part of every successful campaign is an intensive training process that involves learning about your products and/or services and the market in which they compete.

It’s not just about Conversions…

If your only business strategy is to Optimize Conversions, your business will suffer and not survive long-term. Here are several important factors to know so your business can deliver an exceptional customer experience:

As a Marketer or Entrepreneur you are always looking for ways to improve conversions from your ads and website, and still customer’s appreciate authenticity and transparency. If a customer feels mislead after they have purchased something from you, it only hurts your brand and can have severe negative impacts on your business Lifetime Customer Value and Profitability.

Call Center Standards for Nutraceutical companies
Critical elements to consider when selecting a call center outsourcing company is the presence of quality management, workforce planning and staff leadership. Your call center provider should have systems in place that regularly analyze and measure call recordings and customer satisfaction data. There also needs to be procedures in place to improve and adjust these metrics in real-time.

Enlisting the Support of an Outsourcing Expert
When selecting a call center vendor for your Nutraceutical business, it is our goal that the information here has given you ideas and newly gained knowledge to assist in the evaluation of your call center partner.

Key Factors with Contact Center Outsourcing

PCI Compliance
PCI compliance is an important consideration for any company that accepts payment by credit or debit card. PCI is shorthand for payment card industry and PCI compliance is further shorthand for saying that an organization/company/service is in compliance with the payment card industry data security standard (PCI DSS). This is all very complicated and technical stuff, and it’s beyond the scope of a blog post, but we will lay down a few bullet points to give you an idea of the questions to ask when shopping around for a contact center.  A PCI compliant contact center will:

There are many, many more factors that come into play but contact centers that are PCI compliant recognize the importance of keeping customer information secure because a failure in this area can jeopardize all other aspects of their business. Their compliance illustrates a commitment to reducing the likelihood of identity theft and fraud and this helps to increase trust and retention among clients and their customers.

Quality Control Procedures
A critical element to consider when selecting a contact center is the presence of quality control mechanisms. Your provider should have a system in place that regularly analyzes call recordings and customer satisfaction indicators. There also needs to be procedures in place to improve these metrics in real-time before a mole-hill becomes a mountain.

Enlist the Support of an Expert
We’re not going to end this series by simply tooting the CallCenter.com horn; ok, yes we are, but we’d be fools not to, right? Regardless of whether you reach out to us today, or spend a little time shopping around, there’s no doubt that you’ll find outsourcing to be a cost-effective, efficient and common-sense solution for most business needs. This blog series has highlighted what we think are important considerations for most businesses. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but we certainly hope you would consider CallCenter.com if you’re in need for such services. We have a whole stable of satisfied customers and would welcome the opportunity to discuss it with you in more detail.

Contact Center Terminology, Part III

This the final part in the initial installment of what could very well turn out to be the definitive guide to common contact center terminology. (Part I, is here and Part II is here) If we missed anything or you have any thoughts on the definitions that we’ve provided, please feel free to weigh in by commenting below.

9. Key Performance Indicator (KPI)
KPI or key performance indicator is a measurable data point that represents how effectively a company or individual is achieving or contributing to the success of key business objectives. A KPI goal for a call center might be might be to decrease AHT (from Part I) by 30 seconds on a particular campaign. A KPI goal for a customer service agent might be to decrease their personal AHT by 60 seconds to contribute to the larger company goal.

10. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Net Promoter Score or NPS, measures customer loyalty and is considered a good predictor of business revenue and growth. In a nutshell, it measures how likely a customer is to recommend a product or service to someone else. It is roughly calculated by subtracting the dissatisfied (a detractor) from the satisfied (a promoter) and scored -100 to +100.

If we were to do a quick NPS checkup right now, it would look like this:

Respondents who score 0-6 are considered “detractors”, 7-8 are “passives” and 9-10 are “promoters”.

11. Occupancy
Occupancy is the percentage of time that contact center agents spend handling incoming requests against the total amount of time their are in “ready” status.

12. Outlier Management
Outlier management is a nice way of saying, “what the heck are we going to do with the under-performers?”  Typically the bottom 20 percent fall into a “outlier” category on any given metric and there are a variety of approaches management can take to address the issues. These range from mentoring to training to disciplinary action and everything in between.

13. Queue (Q)
Customers who call a contact center are placed in a queue while they wait to speak with a live agent. It is similar to waiting in line at an amusement park, a call queue is a “waiting line” of customers, organized by campaign and prioritized by the order the calls were received.

14. Service Levels/Service Level Agreement (SL/SLA)
A service level agreement (SLA) is a contractual agreement between a client and contact center that defines the level of service required by an inbound campaign. A typical SLA with a call center states that x percentage of calls will be handled in x number of seconds. (ie: 80%/60 seconds)

Service levels (SL) are one of the primary metrics that contact center managers monitor throughout the day. A 90 percent SL means that 90 percent of the inbound calls are being handled within the agreed to SLA.

15. Shrinkage (Shrink)
There are two types of shrink: internal and external. For the layman, internal shrink is when staff spend too much time goofing around; external shrink happens when people call in sick or late.  There are numerous other reasons for both but the point is that shrinkage can seriously hurt a business unless it is planned for and managed.

For example, let’s say a pizza joint determines it needs ten people to work ten hours each to provide adequate service for the number of orders forecast. If history shows that 2 will call in sick (external shrink) and 2 still need to be trained how to use the cash register for half their shift (internal shrink), then the pizza place is looking at an anticipated 30 percent shrink for that day.

It can therefore be concluded that the manager should schedule 13 people to cover the ten, ten hour shifts.

16. Workforce Management (WFM)
Workforce Management, as it applies to a BPO contact center, encompasses all the activities needed to maintain a productive workforce capable of providing the service levels promised to the client. These include scheduling, forecasting, performance management, real-time management, time-keeping and attendance.

And that concludes our three-part examination of some of the most common terms floating around contact centers these days. However, contact center terminology is an ever-evolving area and if the comments and feedback we receive warrant it, we will certainly revisit it again in the future.

Back to:
Part II
Part I

Contact Center Terminology, Part II

Every industry has its own jargon or language or buzzwords or lingo. The contact center industry is no different and this series is designed to help folks who are either new to the industry or who are trying to set up or retain their own BPO contact center. If you missed Contact Center Terminology Part I, you can find it here.

5. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM is short for customer relationship management and it is typically used in the context of an application. (IE: “CallCenter.com customer service agents are well versed in a wide variety of CRM apps including Limelight, Konnektive, etc…).

CRMs are also a database, analytics and customer-centric tool companies use to manage customer records. A good CRM will keep records and analytics on everything from fullfillment operations to contact center activities to order processing (and much more).

6. First Call Resolution (FCR)
First call resolution is when a customer’s questions are completely addressed the very first time he/she reaches out to a contact center. This is CallCenter.com’s bread and butter and it is considered a platinum benchmark by which all customer support companies and departments are measured. FCR not only decreases costs to the client but it creates a level of customer service that ensures  people are not only satisfied with their experience but that they buy from you again and again, tell all their friends about your products and – if they are predisposed to writing online reviews – write only positive, glowing things about your company.

7.  Full-time Employee (FTE)
A full-time employee refers to customer service agent whose combined work hours in a week equal the number of hours a business consider full-time. This is used in the context of capacity planning and forecasting. For example, your CallCenter.com account manager might say to you, “Yes, sir, we’ve scheduled 9 FTEs over the holiday weekend to handle your calls and make sure the service level goals are met.”

8. Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
An IVR is a telephony menu system that identifies, segments and routes calls to the most appropriate agent or group of agents within a business unit.

(Continue on to Part III)

(Back to Part I)

Key Factors With Contact Center Outsourcing

Call center outsourcing provides a ton of advantages to businesses seeking a cost-effective means of growing their customer base and elevating the customer experience. Benefits include cost savings, on-demand service, and a better customer service experience. When considering call center outsourcing, a company should carefully evaluate potential vendors to ensure they have the scalability, experience and resources to properly respond to the needs of their customers and business requirements.

“A customer should not view their BPO purely as a transaction. We specialize in helping companies take advantage of the intelligence a BPO contact center can provide about their business. It’s critical to understand a client’s business goals first, then design solutions for them to grow! We’ve observed this is possible only with the right tools, processes and – above all else – people.”  – Kyle Hannah, CEO of CallCenter.com.

This multi-part series will review of the primary features you should look for when evaluating an out-sourced contact center solution.

Key Advantages to Contact Center Outsourcing

Ideally, contact center outsourcing offers businesses the most valuable service (satisfied customers) at an price that they cannot afford to provide in-house. Here are 3 key ways this strategy can help you optimize results for your business:

  1. Cost Reduction: Outsourcing offers a solution for business owners who are unable to establish an in-house contact center for their business due to the high costs of setup and labor.
  2. Increased Access to Services: Using an outsourced vendor provides access to support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Customers appreciate the ability to speak, email, text or chat with a representative as soon as the need for support arises.
  3. Increased Responsiveness to Customers: In addition to 24/7 service, outsourcing advantages include increased access to resources, such as chat services and bilingual representatives. The ability for customers to communicate with a representative immediately also helps to bolster customer satisfaction and build loyalty.

While the affordability and accessibility of contact center outsourcing is attractive, it is critical to evaluate potential providers before confirming your commitment to a single outsourcing contact center. In Part II we will examine the critical factors that you need to consider, before moving forward and selecting a vendor.

(Continue to Part II…)

Contact Center Terminology, Part I

If you have ever been around a subject matter expert, they’ve likely dropped a word or acronym you’ve never heard of. The contact center world is filled with these! To help you , we’ve put together a glossary of common contact center terminology. This is designed to make it easier to speak the language and understand how this business works.

1. Automatic call distribution (ACD)
ACD or automatic call distribution (or distributor) is software that queues and routes incoming phone calls. A key role of an ACD is producing intelligence for a contact center and an understanding of opportunities for performance management improvements.

2. Average speed to Answer (ASA)
Average speed to answer, or ASA, is the measurement of how quickly your contact center responds to an incoming request – whether it’s a call or a chat or an email – from a customer. (ex: the call center handled 9000 calls today with an ASA of 48 seconds)

3. Average Handle Time (AHT)
Talk time + wrap-time = handle time. The average handle time for a contact center agent is the total time spent talking on calls divided by the total number of calls for a specified time period. (ex: 500 minutes / 40 calls = 12.5 minute AHT) This metric is especially important for customers  who pay by the minute. Internally, most clients on this type of plan require a 6-8 minute AHT but it really is dependent on the requirements of each campaign.

4. Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)
Business process outsourcing is the contracting of a business task, such as customer service or HR, to a third-party provider. Usually, BPO is implemented as a cost-saving measure for tasks that a company requires but can be done more efficiently through outsourcing.

Continue to Part II…