In-House vs Outsourcing? Considerations When Evaluating a BPO for Your Call Center
Business growth requires additional assets to keep pace with customer demand - call center included. Whether you decide to expand in-house or through an outsourced provider is up to you and your company’s needs. How do you choose? We’ve outlined the pros and cons of both options so you can make the best decision possible.
Call centers aren’t just providing customer service - they’re transforming into value creation and revenue centers for growing businesses. Mounting successes stemming from your global operations are a big reason why you’re at this point today.
Expanding your call center programs is an exciting time, but one that requires thorough planning. There are two options for growing your call center teams: scaling up your in-house agents (whether in-office or remote) or delegating those responsibilities to an outsourced provider.
Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, which we will discuss further below. Hopefully, at the end of this article, you’ll have a better idea of what each entails so you can make an informed (and profitable!) decision for your company.
What’s an In-House Call Center
An in-house call center is exactly what it sounds like: agents, call flows and phone infrastructure, and management personnel are housed within the primary organization. All call center activities happen within the confines of the company.
What’s an Outsourced BPO Call Center?
An outsourced call center, also called business process outsourcing (BPO), is a business model where a company entrusts a portion or all of its call center activities to a third-party organization to manage.
There are three types of BPOs brands often used to outsource call center activities:
- Onshore: Call centers operating in the native country of the business.
- Offshore: Call centers operating outside the native country in different time zones.
- Nearshore: Call centers operating in a neighboring country to the business.
Pros of Growing Your In-House Call Center
Having a call center in your organization can help fuel your customer experience strategy. There are several benefits to facilitating it in-house, including:
Greater Staff Product Knowledge
Agents that work in-house generally have a higher level of understanding of the product or services their business offers. Because they’re employed by the company, new product releases and messaging are easily distributed from management to staff, allowing agents to quickly access resources that can accelerate their subject matter expertise.
Tighter Security Protocols
Maintaining network and IT security is a large and necessary investment for international organizations. And because confidential info and proprietary data move in-house, there’s less likelihood of exposure compared to sharing information through multiple networks when working with an outsourced provider.
Complete Quality Control
Managers can fully regulate their call center activities and voice quality when customer service teams report directly to them. Conversations are easily monitored for quality standards, network reliability, and MOS, so actionable insights can be used to make impactful decisions regarding your agents’ workflows and resources.
Quick Adaptation to New Policies
Company policies and processes are subject to change as the business grows and new strategic goals unfold. Internal communications are quickly distributed in mass without requiring to go through a point of contact first. This allows agents to swiftly adapt to changes, helping management to keep everyone on the same page.
Call Center Integrations to Improve Organization Resources
There’s flexibility for in-house call centers that want to amend their existing infrastructure without imposing major lag time. Internal IT staff and business leaders can enhance their phone systems with technologies that seamlessly integrate into their tech stacks with minimal disruption to operations.
Cons of Growing Your In-House Call Center
While an in-house team can do wonders for your business, it does pose some challenges for international companies. These include growing pains like:
Costly Infrastructure & Maintenance
Standing up new call center programs can be expensive to plan for and execute. You’ll need to buy computers, more bandwidth, phone lines, software licenses, and PBXs systems - not to mention the costs to maintain those materials year after year.
Funding a call center adds up fast. And if your team works a hybrid schedule, you’ll need to budget for office space as well.
As the programs get underway, managers will need to hire and train staff. Agents cost money to recruit, even more so with alluring benefits packages offered by remote work companies. Furthermore, you’ll also be paying for coaching and training sessions as they ramp up to become fully effective employees.
Companies that don’t operate 24/7 leave gaps in coverage and their customers without answers to their questions. International companies need to have service that supports their customers in real-time, wherever they are located. Even local companies need customer service coverage after they end their workday.
How a CPaaS Provider Accelerates In-House Call Centers
If you’re leaning toward keeping your call center services within the organization, a cloud communications-platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) provider can accelerate your call strategy with flexible solutions that reduce total ownership costs and increase profitability.
Here’s how they drive mission-critical communications:
1. Cloud Communications
International voice services perform better on the cloud. A modern platform seamlessly integrates with existing infrastructure so agents can deliver a great customer experience through high-quality, secure global coverage and call quality. Additionally, it creates a centralized location for all of your business’s phone numbers and carriers, enabling full control of your in-house communications.
2. Flexible Offerings
Business leaders can scale their functionality as needed to align with strategic goals. CPaaS providers offer several capabilities to increase the flexibility of your global communications within your own environment, including programmable voice APIs, business tool integrations with workflow automation, flexible voice solutions, and performance reports for visibility into every facet of your call center.
And then there are the call center tools that empower agent performance and make customer satisfaction possible. Contact center tools such as a softphone, skills-based routing, live coaching tools, and routing are integral parts of the operation that keep your agents on pace and your customers happy.
Pros of Outsourcing Customer Service
There are several reasons why a company would outsource its customer service to a BPO. It’s a growing market with tons of efficiency opportunities for businesses big and small. The ones that stand out the most include:
Delegating your call center tasks to a BPO is an affordable alternative to an in-house call center and can save companies 50% on costs. The provider takes care of everything you would have had to manage: staffing, payroll, agent scheduling, architecture maintenance, etc. Contracts are built around what you require, so you’ll always know the expenses from the beginning and can budget for the work accordingly.
BPO customer service teams are often highly skilled in specific industries: healthcare and pharma, financial services, retail, telecommunications, and IT. It’s why 46% of businesses use outsourcing - to acquire skill sets not accessible within their own organization.
You gain specialized agents with abundant training and knowledge from working with past clients. Furthermore, it provides businesses with faster agent ramp-up times, deeper product and industry knowledge to get your revenue metrics on the right path.
Changes in business call volume are relatively easy to navigate with an outsourced provider. BPOs are large companies that typically provide all-day phone support, as well as the necessary infrastructure to keep operations running smoothly even during peak volume without the need to bring on more talent or technology.
Cons of Outsourcing Customer Service
As with an in-house setup, outsourcing customer service comes with its own set of challenges. The most frequent areas to keep an eye on include:
Less Attention to Customer Care
Your customers have expectations of your brand, and a high level of care needs to be expressed and felt over the phone lines. Language barriers may cause some challenges to the experience, as cultural differences and varying dialects may lead to unknowingly curt replies or require longer resolutions. It’s important to have a designated BPO point of contact to direct all your inquiries about customer experience and satisfaction needs - your revenue depends on it.
Lack of Quality Control
Outsourcing means letting go of control over part or all of your call center. Autonomy is extremely limited. You’re essentially placing complete trust in security and call quality in the BPO provider’s hands. And everything is done via contract, which means your extent of control is outlined and any amendments to it may be a breach of contract or would require more money.
Checklist for Finding the Best BPO
When outsourcing your call center operations, there are a few things to keep in mind during your search. Your customer service success is in the hands of a third-party service provider. While this can be intimidating, a quality BPO is already set up and optimized to help you achieve your goals.
Good signs to look for:
1. Cloud Integration
A reliable BPO will already have cloud-based communications activated to deliver results for their clients. With a modernized platform to work from, BPOs can better serve their clients’ customers using superior call quality, call tools, and the global reach expected to maintain customer satisfaction and keep SLAs on track.
2. Robust Continuity Plan
Furthermore, third-party call centers have a duty to their clients to keep communication channels open even when partial operations go down outside of their control. Your customers have high expectations of your brand, and providers that don’t have a strong recovery plan in place can negatively impact your business's call center KPIs, including CSAT, NPS, and Abandon Rate.
3. Advanced Features & Reports
Cloud communications technology includes a wealth of call features as well as reporting capabilities. BPOs with a cloud-native platform should be utilizing these advanced features, like virtual attendant, queue callback, call forwarding, and skills-based routing, in their call cadences to ensure the customer has a great experience. And, your BPO should also have the means to monitor and share their sentiments through scheduled business reporting.
4. Comprehensive Agent Training
A BPO provider with a refined and successful training program is a good sign. Because you’re not supervising conversations directly, you’ll need a provider who has business acumen and comprehensive knowledge to build up agent competence so they can keep your customers happy.
How Successful BPOs Use CPaaS to Fuel Customer Success
BPOs also utilize cloud-native voice and contact center services to fuel the success of their clients. Making sure their business can sustain their clients’ customers is critical to their operations. Here’s how they do it:
1. Scalable Solutions
BPOs require scalable communications solutions to meet the demands of their clients’ customers. As volume and expectations rise, supporting agents with reliable technology that’s set up in minutes is crucial to keep productivity metrics on pace. Additionally, these technologies must work within legacy VoIP infrastructure to expand and monitor voice services wherever agents choose to work out of.
2. Inventory Management
The convenience of managing phone numbers, carrier contracts, and voice documentation are paramount to growing the success of a BPO customer. A platform that can simplify number management by eliminating multi-vendor mapping and instantly provisioning numbers in hard-to-obtain countries on a single dashboard view helps agents focus on what they do best.
3. Effectively Manage Costs
A reputable CPaaS partner provides outsourcing companies with capabilities to effectively manage their call center costs. Bundled pricing, zero porting fees, and no-term contracts offer BPOs the flexibility to pay for what they need - keeping the call center’s operations efficient and your brand profitable!
4. Measuring Voice Quality
It takes consistent high-quality voice service to accelerate revenue growth. VoIP network performance is just as important as how agents are interacting on the phones. Measuring network quality metrics such as MOS, latency, and jitter empowers BPOs to monitor their connectivity and troubleshoot call issues before they interfere with business operations and the customer experience.
5. Reporting Tools to Mitigate Risk
BPOs rely on accurate and timely call center reporting to highlight successes and improvement opportunities with their clientele. With qualitative metrics and a holistic view of overall performance, CPaaS reporting tools help BPOs maintain transparency with their brands and mitigate risk simultaneously.
Making the Right Decision for Your Business
Making a choice that impacts your business is never an easy one. While you hope the right answer will reveal itself, coming to the best decision takes time and thorough due diligence. It’s an investment you’re making to accelerate your customer service goals - whether it be through internal growth or outsourcing some of your programs.
If you prefer more control over your communications, you might consider retaining your call center programs and incorporating a cloud communications provider to grow your business. AVOXI is a leading CPaaS provider with secure and high-quality voice coverage spanning 170+ countries, empowering businesses to evolve and manage their voice, messaging, and contact center services in one intuitive platform. Interested? Contact one of our experts today to see the AVOXI platform for yourself.
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