What is an outsourcing call center?

Mistakes when choosing an outsourcing call center, which will surely lead to big problems in the future.

What is an outsourcing call center?

If anyone doesn't know, an outsourced contact center is a pretty fun kitchen. But in about half of the cases, the word cheerful must be quoted. For example, the author of this article, at the age of 24, while working as the head of the OCC, got quite a noticeable gray hair on his whiskey. And, having worked for 19 years in outsourcing and with outsourcing, still at least once every 2 weeks he learns a new way to make a project in the OCC in such a way that you are amazed. Therefore, you need to be more careful with the choice of a supplier, the kitchen may turn out not only with cockroaches, but also with crazy chefs. So, here are typical customer mistakes that are highly likely to cause problems.

Refusal of a preliminary personal visit to the site where the project will be serviced

Taking into account the remote location, the relevance of the issue has somewhat decreased, but if the project is scheduled for execution on the site, it is necessary to go and see it. And it is advisable to take with you someone who is in the subject. By small signs, an experienced person can draw a lot of interesting conclusions. A simple example: the creators of the OCC decided to save money by fitting more operator seats into a limited space. The tabletops turned out to be 75 centimeters wide, and this is roughly plus 10% -15% to the bill amount with per-minute / per-second billing, because it is inconvenient to work at such narrow tables, and this affects the speed of processing contacts with subscribers. Sometimes it comes to the ridiculous, for example, if the length of the headset wires is not enough, the operators are literally twisted. But, of course, not only the ergonomics of operator positions are important. It is very entertaining to see how often operators turn to a senior for advice – such a good signal of the quality of training. Therefore, you must go. If it is absolutely not possible to organize a visit, request a video of the operator's room. At the same time, remember that some things are not visible on the video, for example, production conflicts are not felt, in particular, between operators and supervisors, and this is a fairly common occurrence, especially when former operators are appointed to this position. In addition, you won’t be able to feel the general energy from the video: how friendly people are in communicating with each other, how satisfied they are with the work and the company. The attitude towards customers is always the same as the relationships that develop within the group. This rule has no exceptions. By the way, the "in reverse" scheme, when the customer insists that his representative be constantly on the site, does not always work well. Or rather, it is good only in those cases when the customer is responsible for achieving the goals of the project, and the OCC only provides him with people and infrastructure. Otherwise, there is a conflict of interest and duplication of control. It doesn't lead to anything useful. It may be rational and correct to have a customer’s trainer at the OCC site, but such cases are very rare, because the need for a permanent trainer is dictated either by constant, massive and volumetric changes in the customer’s business, or by high staff turnover at the OCC, or by an extremely difficult product (and such projects are generally outsourced very poorly).

The next mistake is not to check the qualifications of the project manager by the OCC

Such a check should be mandatory, because it is he who, in fact, is the chef in the very kitchen that was mentioned at the beginning. A good chef has order, cleanliness and delicious food. If you don’t know how to check it yourself, again ask a specialist, this procedure is short, everything is clear according to the answers to three or four questions. According to the experience of interviewing for leadership positions (and the author conducted from more than 600), approximately 40% of people in positions of project managers are completely professionally unsuitable. It is also necessary to find out if the PM was appointed from among the operators, this is an extremely flawed practice. Then no one deals with them, managerial skills and understanding of the subject are acquired with sweat, blood and at the expense of the customer, because in fact an experiment with an unpredictable result is obtained. They offer a former operator – refuse and demand a replacement. And in general, it is highly desirable to prescribe in the contract the right of the customer to replace the PM either in case of unsatisfactory results of the project, or in the case when the PM does not pass “attestation” according to the criteria agreed with the ACC. Not to include such a clause in the contract is also a mistake, and a gross one at that. By the way, it is not uncommon for the sales department of ACC services to be just charming, and the project office does things that can only be said in an unkind fairy tale with a bad ending.

The third mistake is not to find out how the executing company performs planning for the future project

Usually they do it “on the forehead”, and this is wrong: they ask the customer for the expected volume of contacts by weeks or months, estimate the approximate need for operators, and this is limited. And in vain, because, for example, the need for operators in June is not equal to the need for them in December to perform a similar amount of work: people get sick more often, students leave for a session. Then the customer wonders why the availability indicators (ASA, %SL, %LCR) fail. So that's why they collapse because there are not enough people. The customer needs to understand whether the OCC sees the future in the horizon of the year in the following areas: the need for personnel (taking into account seasonal fluctuations, the activity of candidates and expected changes in the contact processing time), technical capabilities (otherwise the infrastructure will suddenly “not take out” the increasing amount of work) and organizational improvements.

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

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