Call centers come in all shapes and sizes, but for businesses looking to reduce costs, an overseas call center may fit the bill.
While some businesses have all the resources to run their own call center in-house or hand it off to a U.S.-based call-center provider, an offshore call center is generally a more cost-effective option.
Keep in mind, however, that organizations considering outsourcing their call center overseas will be faced with several obstacles that come with doing business in foreign countries. If a company is not prepared to deal with these challenges, offshoring may actually result in higher costs than anticipated.
Bryce Maddock, CEO of TaskUs, an outsourced customer support provider with offices in Santa Monica, Calif., and Manila, Philippines, warned that cost is not the only factor businesses need to consider. Maddock — whose clients include LivingSocial, Hotel Tonight and HauteLook — said that businesses also need to make sure the provider they choose won't compromise their brand and, most importantly, the customer experience.
"The most common mistake companies make when choosing a call center is focusing exclusively on price," Maddock said. "Service, reliability and cultural fit should never be discounted. Choose the call center that fits your brand and company culture, not just your price point."
To help businesses navigate the waters of overseas call centers, Maddock offered the following insights on what businesses should look for in offshore call-center providers.
Location is incredibly important because it will affect many other aspects of your decision. Some countries can offer incredibly cheap rates because wages are low. However, poor government infrastructure often accompanies low wages, and that could affect your call center's quality of service in the long term. Other things to consider include the exchange rate, economy, culture and environmental issues (e.g., whether the country is prone to natural disasters).
Finding a call center that employs people with accents that are easy for your customer to understand is incredibly important for two reasons: customer service and brand preservation. First, you want the transition from in-house to call-center service to be as seamless and undetectable to your customers as possible. You will also want a call center with minimal or undetectable accents, which allows you to streamline your business without harming your established brand image. Ask vendors for voice samples, and speak with employees via a Skype video conference. Check to see if the agents are easy to understand and if you can detect any accents.
Call centers vary greatly in specialization. For example, a call center that specializes in providing technical support is typically not a great fit for an online shoe retailer. Call centers invest heavily in providing industry-specific training. Ask to see relevant case studies that demonstrate their proficiency in your industry and determine how they have positioned their call center to become industry experts. Go with the call center that specializes in businesses just like yours.
It is imperative that the call center you choose is both physically secure and technologically secure. Utilizing a call center should never jeopardize any of your proprietary data. To reduce the need to implement your redundancy and disaster plans, the center you use should have security guards on-duty 24/7, provide a safe workplace for employees and have the technical measures to protect your data. You should also ask if the call center is willing to sign a nondisclosure agreement. Extensive security measures are incredibly important to your business and your peace of mind.
Their Portfolio of Clients
Before finalizing your decision, you should look at the roster of companies with which the call center works. Doing so will help you identify if the call center is a good fit for your business. If the call center works with mostly large-scale corporate companies and you're a newly funded startup, that particular option is likely not a good fit. Examining the call center's clients can help you get a better understanding of what its offerings are and what companies it best suits. Ask providers who their top clients are, if they work with any of your competitors and if you'll be one of their largest or smallest clients.
Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily .