What is call center BPO?
First of all, let’s deal with the call center BPO meaning. The BPO abbreviation can be decoded as business process outsourcing, so it is generally called just outsourcing. Thus, the BPO call center is the call center that is held and managed by a third-party vendor to the order of another company.
There are numerous vendors who offer outsourcing services - they have their own entire teams for customer service, offices or remote staff, and software to handle all call center operations. They can differentiate by the number of services they provide, staff number, pricing policy, location, and so on.
The BPO call center can offer much better cost efficiency, as you can choose the vendor who hires agents in other countries with much lower salaries. Additionally, it is a more effortless customer service model for your call center as you don’t need to control it, build strategies, form teams, deal with training needs, and so on - experienced and trusted service providers can do everything instead of you.
How does the BPO call center work?
Firstly, you have to select a vendor that suits your needs and requirements the most. Because of high competition in the market, it can be a challenge to find the ideal vendor from the endless list of contact center outsourcing companies that would be really the best in the class. Anyhow, there are firms that focus on inbound call center service, while others offer blended call center solutions or just outgoing calls.
The second step is to determine the overall list of operations you want to be handled by your BPO call center. Some managers prefer to handle some operations by themselves or members of their team instead of outsourcing those tasks. For instance, communication with VIP or high-net-worth customers can be handled by the company itself, while other customer inquiries and other dispatch services may be outsourced.
Finally, you have to agree to and sign the SLA to build regulated, trustful, and honest customer relationships between your business and the company that outsource call center. SLA is a kind of contract that covers such aspects of call center performance as affordable rates, service level, call center metrics that are used to control the quality of the organization, and so on.
Thus, the BPO call center is the efficient, cost-saving, and effortless model of contact center development, but there are always pitfalls in any project, so let’s discover how do they look like and where the risks lie.
How to understand the need of outsourcing a call center?
Yes, the BPO call center can offer more benefits than in-house call centers do in some cases. Nonetheless, there is not always a good moment to start switching to a BPO call center, or, vice versa, such a moment has been already missed. Therefore, you have to keep your finger on the pulse of every aspect of call center performance and understand if you either have to swap to the BPO call center or use this model from the start, or don’t use the call center BPO model at all.
So, let’s find out how to determine when you need to select a BPO call center.
The first version would take place if you have already developed and set up a contact center, but during this process, you have found out that you don’t have enough resources to handle the call center, or the volume of calls from customers requesting help is too big to be processed with existing resources. Thus, you have two options: face service level reduction in causes of high occupancy and too many potential customers and their customer support inquiries, or swap to the BPO call center with higher efficiency, productivity, and resource base. Why don’t invest in your own customer service department? Well, because this way is more expensive and consumes too much time. While you have already faced high call volumes, you can’t go and hire the needed number of agents in one day. So, you get image and money losses and still have to fix imperfections by spending time on interviews, searching for high-quality professionals, training, onboarding, and so on.
The second path is more acceptable for any case. If you prefer proactive management and keep all customer service operations and insights under control and close monitoring, you can easily catch a moment when you need a BPO call center. It may happen when you are just scaling up the business and thinking of the best option for excellent customer service. If you see that there is too high unload and request volume then it will be a better choice to go for a BPO call center from the early beginning.
Another situation is when you have a small call center, but other business departments and projects are more impactful to be invested in, so the BPO call center is the perfect choice to pick up.
BPO call center setting up guide
So, you have already decided to order a BPO call center and use this model as the heart of your customer service. But where to start? There are countless offerings across the market, and it is almost impossible to understand who would be the best contact center provider and fit your needs. By the way, maybe it is a mistake to start by looking for a vendor.
Many questions may visit your head before you will find your ideal vendor and set up the BPO call center. Anyhow, you need a clear understanding and guidelines with direct recommendations on what you have to do and in what order - and we are here to help.
Determine your requirements
BPO call center companies offer a huge variety of features, processes, and models of BPO call center. Before you will start to compare various offerings from distinct call center outsourcing companies, ask yourself what you require to outsource.
There are three main BPO call center models: inbound, blended, and outbound call center services. Do you need to provide customer service only and have no willingness to use outbound calls? Then look for incoming calls handling offers. Do you want your BPO call center to generate cold calls sales? Pick up blended option - when both inbound and outbound calls are processed.
A feature list is also vital. Such tools, as self-service options are must-haves for most industries, so look for those who offer self-service features. Determine also preferred communication channels - who knows your target audience better than you?
This step is truly vital, as when you come to a vendor you have to give him a detailed request of what you really need and expect from him. If you don’t know your real needs, can the service provider know them? Maybe, but is an absolutely different story.
Properly select a vendor
When you come to choosing a vendor, it is not about the price only. Your business is unique as any other, and the vendor isn’t utilitarian and universal too. Before making a final choice, ask yourself a few questions:
National or abroad call center? This choice strongly depends on how much you want to pay as salaries, and on your requirement to either offer all-around-the-clock service(by routing non-business hour calls to another time zone BPO call center) or just handle calls during business hours.
Aren’t your core business functions too specific for mass-market solutions? This is a vital question for such industries as real estate or financial services, where customer service matters too much to be ignored or underestimated. By the way, if you sell neural networks or other complex products you can’t delegate customer service to a vendor who has been working with shoe stores only.
What are the features you want to implement? Some vendors still don’t offer all the popular features that are used by their competitors. For example, an omnichannel BPO contact center isn’t offered by many vendors, but it is still the perfect solution.
How much are you willing to pay? The main question to you is - are you ready to pay more, but offer better service and more features, or you are going to save some money on customer satisfaction? Since you are ready to answer it, go and pick the fitting offer.
Build a clear strategy with exact time frames
When you are entering this business, you definitely have some expectations from it, don’t you? This is the crucial part of further success - how wise are you in setting goals, and what’s more important, overplaying competitors and implementing best practices of customer service and boosting customer experience?
The customer service strategy has to be written with exact KPIs which have to be reached during set time frames. The vendor also understands that you know what you want and expect him to do his best in achieving success. Check your customer base to analyze the target audience, think of outgoing customer calls strategy, analyze current business operations, design a positive customer service experience sample, and so on.
Set also checkpoints where you and the vendor will make some brainstorming and find out either are you moving forward in the right direction or maybe there are some imperfections and mistakes done.
Sign the SLA
You require some legal background for your cooperation with the vendor, and SLA is the perfect tool. Use it to secure agreements about key KPIs, service levels, and overall performance of the BPO contact center.
Additionally, SLA is the symbol of trust between you and the vendor and its signing process is the perfect time to discuss all aspects of the cooperation.
Control, monitor, and track
Even when your BPO contact center is all set and it looks like it is time to just sit and do nothing despite getting outcomes, it is not that easy.
Give an eagle eye on every BPO contact center operation and closely monitor all performance metrics - ask for regular reports and stay in touch with the vendor to be confident that everything works as expected.
Even outsourcing isn’t the business model where you do nothing, but get impact. If you don’t control what is going on with your BPO contact center it will be a direct sign to the vendor that you just don’t care. And if you don’t, who should care then?
Advantages and disadvantages of BPO contact center
Let’s start from the positive part as BPO contact center is still a great option to use in case of money saving or delegating responsibilities to a more experienced team.
We have severally mentioned that the BPO contact center is a cheaper solution than an in-house one. You don’t pay rent, equipment costs, or high salaries(if the BPO contact center is abroad). Anyhow, no one would run a business if it spends more than brings. Thus, when you buy a BPO contact center service, all of these costs are included in the final price as well as the vendor’s revenue. The lower price is achieved by hiring employees from less developed countries that have lower salaries than it would be in the US or UK for in-house employees, that’s all.
If you have one call center, but want to provide round-the-clock service, then there is no need in hiring night shift customer service reps - just look for a contact center BPO in another time zone where business hours correlate with business hours in your area. So, the outsourced call center can also serve you to deal with callbacks or other aspects of work.
It is less effortful to set up
You just delegate everything to the vendor. No hiring troubles, no equipment selection, no problems with contact center software searching, and so on. Qualified and experienced specialists do everything for you without any effort from your side. Another great advantage is that vendors have all set, and they don’t have to develop or make something from scratch, so the time frames to start a call center are way shorter.
You can’t really control the internal team communication, working atmosphere, management tactics, and other aspects of work in the BPO call center. It will work in accordance with rules and regulations that are set up by the vendor, so the only way to control the service is to look at how the vendor meets SLA requirements. Nonetheless, you can’t do anything with service at all, as the staff isn’t subordinate to you.
All data is stored on the vendor’s resources, and you have no control over it and no idea of how well is it secured. By the way, if something happens, you can get your refund according to SLA, but harm to the brand’s image and reputation is unfixable.
Yes, reviews and a vendor’s reputation can look like guarantees that everything will be okay, but in reality, no one is secure from an emergency.
You can outsource customer service, but if you choose the wrong vendor or just the one who has inexperienced staff or pays too little attention to training, you can face big troubles. For instance, one of your customers comes with a request for technical support. The contact center agent takes it, but the only one who can solve the problem is your technical specialist from the in-house team who can be thousands of miles away from the customer support team and have no communication with it. In the in-house call center, you may have technical support that can take calls from customer service agents in real-time mode. In the case of a BPO call center, it is much more difficult to set up such a speed of cooperation.
Even though the BPO call center is based on the vendor’s experience and staff, the call center software solution plays the first role in achieving success. Thus, no matter which call center development model you choose - you need an all-in-one universal and well-designed software, and we are going to provide you with such one.