Top 10 Questions You’ve Always Wanted to Ask a Call Center Outsourcer

March 9, 2020

There are probably lots of questions that you need to have answered before you can really consider using an outsourcer. According to our client services team, the questions that follow are the ones they are asked the most often. This list should help to open your eyes to what kinds of things an outsourcer can do for your organization.

1. We have our own CRM, do we have to move to yours? 

When it comes to customer resource management tools, outsourcers are super flexible. We can use your own proprietary system; or, if you want us to create a CRM for you, we can do that, too.  We can also let you know that it may be more cost-effective to use a readymade system and then tweak it to your organization’s needs. Flexibility is key.

2. How do you connect to our systems?

There are different ways to do this. We have some clients that drop a router here and we connect directly to their servers. We also connect through a virtual private network (VPN). If you like the look of what your agents have in your internal center, most outsourcers can mimic that through a terminal server or secure VPN where we can pull up the exact screens, software, and apps that are used in your internal center.

3. What does the outsourcer pay for?

In general, you will pay your outsourcer one flat rate. The outsourcer pays for everything from telephony, any type of screens, supervisors, QA teams, reporting, client services–we will handle all of it. If you use a CRM like SalesForce, you will pay for it and the licensing for us to use it. When you hear $26 an hour, that’s not just going toward paying the agent. It’s going for all the ancillary services you are getting, too. When you wrap everything up, it’s usually cost-saving for you. There are lots of costs and savings that can come into play, but there is also a lot taken off of your plate.

4. Can we blind monitor?

Any reputable call center will not only allow blind monitoring, but they will also expect it.  With a cloud-based center that uses something like NICE InContact, doing this is pretty easy.  You are given a security profile that will allow you to log in and pull up a screen that shows all of your reps and their stats. Everything that is happening in your program can be seen. You just plug in whatever phone number you want to listen from; then, when the rep you’ve selected gets a call, your phone will ring too. You really should be able to blind monitor your agents from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a connection.

5. How does training work?

Different outsourcers will do things differently.  We like to have our clients involved as much as we possibly can during the early training process.  For the initial training session, it is helpful to have the client in the room with us to clarify questions as they arise from not only us but also from their agents. We also like to have a “Train the Trainer” session before the full-group training, because it helps the group training flow more smoothly. If a client really cannot be away from their own office, we need to at least have them on a video conference call to help.  We definitely need someone from the client’s office in our center on launch day, as well. Once the initial training has taken place and we have launched our services, we provide all the other training for our representatives. You are expected to pay the reps for the original training sessions; however, we will take on any additional pieces of training necessary.

6. Are there setup fees?

Yes, there are normally IT setup fees. Depending on the complexity of your program, those could be anywhere from $1,000-$20,000. When we see there is good potential for growth, we try to get those fees as close to cost as possible. The client will also pay for training the representatives. Most call centers offer training at a reduced rate.  If you normally pay $27 per hour for representatives, training might be reduced to around $19 per hour.  Not all organizations offer a reduced rate for training, so be sure to ask so you can factor that into your price comparisons.

7. Can we visit the center? 

Or, should we ask to visit the center? Absolutely, Yes! You are going to be investing a lot of time, money, and effort into your customer support. You should definitely see where your actual agents are going to be.  Make sure you understand the culture of that center. Does it match yours? Know where your team will be sitting. Do the agents who are there look like they enjoy what they do? When you go, sit down and speak with people face to face. There is a big difference between talking to someone briefly on the phone and chatting in person.

8. Should we ask the call center to prove their PCI compliance?

Yes!! While there may be some shady centers out there that fake their compliance, most do not.  Legitimately compliant centers are not going to question it when you ask for their forms. They will understand that you just want to be sure that you are protecting your company and your customers. The same thing goes for other certifications. If a center says they are HIPAA compliant, they probably are. But the safest bet is to get copies of all compliance forms and certifications and have them on file in your office. 

9. Should we negotiate the price with the call center? 

You should always try to negotiate a little bit. Bigger centers might not be as willing to work with your pricing as much as a smaller business process outsourcer. Many BPOs are willing to work with a back and forth negotiation on hourly fees and even setup fees. BPOs are more entrepreneurial and want to make sure that their plan is beneficial for both themselves and their clients. It is frustrating on our end when we get ghosted by potential clients and have no idea why.  We have no way to know if it was our prices, policies, or personalities that may have been an issue. We are almost always willing to negotiate, as long as it is fair to both parties. You should always try to negotiate before you walk away.

10. How much do outsourcers charge?

This is a question that obviously comes up pretty often, but the answer will vary based on many factors. The general gist of cost for contact centers in the United States is anywhere from $25-$29 per hour. That price will fluctuate based on how you build out the services you are requesting. If you are looking to go with a near-shore group in Central or South America or in the Caribbean, you are probably looking at around $13-17 per hour. For cities in the Philippines and India, it may cost you anywhere from $6 to $13 per hour.  Outsourcing to Western Europe will run almost as much as within the US due to their economy and cost structures.

While these are fairly generalized answers to pretty broad questions, they should help to point you in the right direction as you look into outsourcing for your company. Feel free to reach out to us at Expivia with more specific questions!

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