Third Party Call Center Selection – Inbound Focus
By Melissa Werth, Customer Service Supervisor, Quality Contact Solutions
Your boss has asked you to find a third party call center for your inbound customer service or sales calls. You don’t know the first thing about what to look for, but it can’t be that hard, right? Here are a few things to consider and look for.
First, here’s a little bit of background: my area of expertise and focus is in inbound calls, including inbound sales and customer service. I believe that the front line team that speaks with your prospects and customers can make or break your business. While customers don’t see their face, they are the face of your business when the customer is calling in.
Have you ever called your local telephone company or cable company and got off the phone and felt like nothing was accomplished with your call? I know I have and I think to myself, “Wow! Where did they learn their customer service skills from?”. That causes me to stop and think about the level of training that was invested in the customer service team and these negative experiences give me even more motivation to ensure my team has the training, tools, and coaching to be successful. The bottom line is that it isn’t that hard if you know the main things to do. And that leads me to telling you the main things to look for when selecting a third party vendor for your inbound calls.
Third Party Call Center Vendor Selection – Top 3 Considerations
Because the frontline team is so important, the most important factor to consider when looking for a third party call center is training. The second most important factor is the company’s track record for satisfying their clients. And the third most important factor is making sure the third party vendor is able to demonstrate their ability to meet and exceed Service Level goals and your key metrics.
Agent Training is at the Heart of Providing Excellent Customer Service Experiences
When selecting a third party call center, one of the primary factors to consider is the company’s customer service training program. In my opinion, the frontline team needs to ask the following questions of themselves before, during and after each interaction:
“How am I going to help this person today?”
“How will this person feel when they get off the phone with me?”
“Did I meet their needs and expectations?”
It is important that the third party call center vendor shows you that they take the time to train their staff. When they are confident and can take care of the matter at hand, it makes for a better experience for your customer and your agent. No one wants to be subpar at their job, so ensure the training is thorough. Take the time to role play and make sure the agents are ready before they hit the phone. At QCS, we don’t leave it to chance. We ensure each front line team member is trained and make sure the right amount of knowledge is provided to the agents.
A Positive Attitude is Contagious!
One thing that makes a big difference when providing that A+ customer service experience is a smile. I know you are thinking “smile”? If you are smiling while talking to the customer, it does make a difference and it comes through your voice when speaking to them. That first impression is key to starting the call off right regardless of the situation. Using courtesy statements such as” I would be happy to assist you” or even a please and thank you goes a long way. It can turn an unpleasant call to a pleasant call in the matter of minutes.
De-escalation Skills Training is Essential.
Make sure the third party call center vendor is constantly training the team and reinforcing ways to de-escalate situations. When it comes to assisting an upset customer, the front line team needs to be actively listening. Make sure the team is equipped with the right training and ongoing coaching to ensure the best results. It’s not always what you do for the customer, it is how you make the customer feel that ultimately matters the most.
A Demonstrated Track Record Goes a Long Way
Make sure you select a company that has a track record (with client references) for providing the best customer service. Can the third party call center firm show you examples of how they do their training, call monitoring and agent development that demonstrates a culture of always putting the customer first, regardless of the situation. In a call center it is much harder to provide that kind of one-on-one service that you are used to if you were talking to that person face to face. You can’t trust your calls to just any Third-Party Call Center. The team you choose HAS to be an extension of your company with your vision.
Communicate Your Service Level Goals
When interviewing third party call center vendors, let them know what your service level goals are. And don’t be afraid to talk about what your minimum expectations will be in the relationship. When a third party call center vendor clearly understands what your goals and key metrics are, they are more likely to achieve the results you want. In my experience, in addition to a Service Level goal (typically 80% of calls answered in 20 seconds), a first call resolution percentage goal should be established and tracked. Generally, it is satisfying to the customer and the agent to get the job done right the first time and reduces costs for your organization. After sharing your goals with the third party call center, ask them if they have ideas on any other goals that should be established. A good outsourcing vendor relationship has a spirit of teamwork and sharing of ideas.
We know great customer service is not for Dummies!
Melissa Werth is the Customer Service Supervisor for Quality Contact Solutions. Melissa is responsible for the day to day operations for the Inbound Customer Support and Technical Support Teams for multiple QCS At Home clients. Prior to joining QCS, Melissa was a sought-after 10-year call center veteran with demonstrated experience in handling highly technical customer service calls with ease.