07.10.2021

Nuances of an agreement with an outsourcing contact center

In this article we will talk about the nuances, the knowledge of which may be useful to the customer when negotiating the contract. Take note!

Nuances of an agreement with an outsourcing contact center

As long as the customer and the outsourcing contact center work together harmoniously, no one remembers what is written in the contract. Of course, with the exception of prices and SLA (not to be confused with the Service Level availability indicator. SLA stands for Service Level Agreement, an agreement on the level of services provided, this document is an annex to the contract, which contains all the KPIs of the project and some other details, for example, the order alerting each other about incidents). But if something starts to go wrong, the customer and the contractor, hereinafter referred to as the "parties", return to what is fixed on paper. And what the customer needs is not always fixed, because, as a rule, the source text of the outsourcer is submitted for approval, and the customer often does not know in advance what may be needed. This note does not cover the mandatory things that need to be described, for example, the reporting format or the scenario of the conversation between the operator and the subscriber. Here we will focus on the essential nuances, the knowledge of which may be useful to the customer.

1. Requirements for OCC employees

Qualification requirements for all OCC employees involved in the project, except for IT specialists, should be agreed and approved. Similarly, the requirements for the admission of personnel to work should be approved (this is not the same thing, qualifications are what they taught, and admission is how they passed the exam). It is necessary to stipulate the right of the customer to submit for removal from the project employees who do not meet these requirements. By the way, this is a fairly common problem: the customer is not satisfied with a particular operator, supervisor or project manager, and there is no way to remove him. Although it is necessary to make a reservation that the reason for such a situation in relation to the leadership is personal hostility in 90% of cases. To the above, you need to make a small reservation: sometimes a project needs to be launched quickly, in principle everything is clear to everyone, including the requirements for personnel, but there is simply no time to document all this. In such a situation, I recommend fixing in the contract the terms during which the documents listed here and below will be prepared.

2. Control of training of operators

The customer must have the unconditional right to determine the composition, content and everything else related to the curriculum for his project. And also be present during training, mentoring and examinations, send their trainers to train operators. As obvious as it may seem, I have seen cases where ACC refused to accept coaches at their venues, referring to the protection of trade secrets of other customers, the protection of their own know-how and other considerations in the same vein. I suspect that “on the ground” there was just a terrible mess. Therefore, write down these rights and add a clause stating that if for any reason it is impossible or difficult at the contractor’s site, then it is carried out at the customer’s site, but the transfer of operators to the place, providing communication (in case of remote work) and replacing operators for the duration of training from mandatory compliance with SLA requirements. By the way, the requirements for evaluating learning outcomes should also be described. How else, for example, to understand: if the exam for admission to work passes 75% of the group – is it good or bad? And if the group consisted of, say, 3 people and one did not pass? Another point, if the training is carried out by an outsourcer, then it is highly desirable to receive a paper from the customer stating that the coach has undergone appropriate training, and the customer does not mind his admission to work.

3. Informing about emergency situations

It is necessary to describe the procedure for informing customers about emergency situations that are not provided for by scenarios and the knowledge base, and it is necessary to directly prescribe the financial responsibility of the OCC for each identified case that “left in the shadows”. They do not do this, and this is critically important, because a non-standard question or statement by a subscriber can lead to legally significant consequences, reputational risks, and excessive costs. And one more thing: many clients themselves strive to help when they talk about their experience: “the form on your site does not work”, “it’s slippery on the porch of your outlet”, in general, they give out a lot of useful information. But with the exception of particularly high-profile cases, such as “I’ll write to the prosecutor’s office about you now,” if the information reaches the customer, it is in the form of a brief commentary on the audio recording, often not exactly corresponding to what the client said. “The form on your site does not work” turns into “you have a bad / inconvenient site”. We once set up an experiment with colleagues, out of 100 comments of this kind, only 26 were correctly recorded, in other cases the meaning was distorted beyond recognition. At the same time, the operators had clear instructions to record what the client said verbatim.

4. Plan

A calendar plan of measures aimed at reducing the contact processing time (AHT, Average Handling Time) should be proposed to the contract. Moreover, not just the target AHT values, but specific measures and those responsible for them should be indicated there. If the OCC cannot draw up such a plan, or at least help in its preparation, do not give the project there, the company is not qualified enough to solve problems of any complexity. In total, the above measures will help to avoid typical conflict situations with the service provider and build organic work with him.

Dmitry Galkin, independent consultant on the creation and management of contact centers

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