Call Center Outsourcing: What it is and How Much it Costs
There never seems to be enough time in a day. That’s only compounded when you are a business in a season of fast growth.
Fast growth requires strategic planning. You need to find a way to support your customers at scale, but you also need to be smart about your spending so that your costs don’t skyrocket. That’s where call center outsourcing comes in.
Whether you’re looking to completely take support work off your company’s plate or just looking to supplement your current support team, a third-party call center can help you get where you want to be.
What is an outsourced call center?
An outsourced call center is a third-party company that you hire to help with your inbound or outbound call center operations.
Call centers can be onshore (in the same country as your business) or offshored (in another country). You’ll have to determine if onshore or offshore outsourcing is right for your business.
One of the most common types of outsourcing is when a business hires an outside customer service company to handle its inbound customer service call center.
Some businesses prefer to hire an external call center to supplement their in-house support team, while others use an outsourcer to completely take over their customer support needs.
While they’re often still referred to as call centers, the more appropriate term for partners like these are business process outsources (BPOs). This broader term fits well, because modern outsourced teams don’t just handle phone calls. They also can handle things like email, live chat, text, and even social media services to become contact centers. Some outsourcing partners can also handle back-office work, such as content moderation or data entry.
Four Benefits of Call Center Outsourcing
When you hire a call center, it brings your business some key benefits. Hubspot put it well when they said, “Outsourcing customer service allows companies to re-focus their time and resources on other aspects of the business, such as product development, content creation, and sales.”
Here are four primary benefits of contact center outsourcing.
1. It allows you to scale quickly
A fast-growing business means you need to support a lot more customers. Whether your current support team can’t handle the increased volume or this is your first time needing a fully-fledged support team, outsourcing your call center needs will allow you to get to the right level of service quickly.
Hiring new employees can take a massive amount of time, especially in a competitive job market. You have to research and write job descriptions, source candidates, conduct interviews, and then train and onboard your new team members.
If you’re growing quickly, this may be more time than you can spare without jeopardizing the functioning of other areas of your business.
As we’ve noted in our guide to scaling customer support, it might take you a month or more to hire an internal customer service agent. In comparison, an outsourcer can typically onboard a new team member in as little as a week.
Even if the goal is to eventually have a fully in-house team of customer support reps, outsourcing your call center operations even for now will help take the burden off your team so you can take your time getting the right employees hired and trained.
Growth bottlenecks can also occur on the sales side as you scale because your sales reps may not have enough time for effective lead generations while also working to close the deal with current leads. Outsourcing solves this by taking over your sales operations and lead generation. Instead of spending weeks training new sales reps, outsourcing will provide you with the staffing you need to scale your sales operations quickly so your sales team can do what they do best.
2. It can increase your customer satisfaction
Another benefit of hiring a reputable call center is that they already have the customer support skills needed to help your business shine.
When you provide phone support, hiring an experienced customer service rep through a BPO can:
- Increase your handle ratio
- Decrease your handle times
- Improve your average speed of answer
- Decrease abandoned calls
Having an experienced team available to help at the drop of a hat increases your customer satisfaction and quality of service far faster than training new employees from scratch. It can even free up internal employees to focus on improving some of your processes.
Can you imagine the combination of having an outsourced team of experts plus improved processes to provide a better support experience?
The important thing to remember is to set clear expectations for your outsourced call center team, just like you would for internal employees.
3. Your service hours can be flexible
If your customers are constantly trying to engage your brand or support team beyond your normal service hours, finding a call center to help is one of the best ways to provide more service. Additional support members from an outsourced company can give you the flexibility to continue your team’s standard business schedule while adding more support hours.
For example, if your support team can handle the volume of tickets during normal business hours but the volume blows up overnight, an outsourced call center can cover the evening or overnight shift. This will help ease the backlog of support tickets your team faces each morning.
You can even go full 24/7 support if that’s what your customers need!
Working with a BPO can even save you money while adding more support coverage, because you won’t need to pay overtime to your staff to cover extra shifts.
4. It can be an effective way to save money
Speaking of saving money, hiring a call center can cost significantly less than hiring your own employees.
The time costs I mentioned above—paying salaries, hiring recruiters, and conducting interviews—aren’t the only places you’ll be saving.
Your recruiters need a salary as well. You need to train your new hires. You may have to hire another manager and possibly a team lead or supervisor to help manage the group. Benefits for the new team members, recruiters, and leadership add in additional costs.
When you outsource your call center operations, the company you hire takes on these costs so you don’t have to. They handle things like recruiting, training, and even management of your outsourced team.
Outsourcing your call center also has the benefit of greatly simplifying your balance sheet, which further increases your savings. Instead of paying for the benefits, salaries, technology, and everything else, you pay one cost to your third-party call center.
That translates to less time “in the books” for your accounts payable team.
Estimating costs of outsourcing a call center
Your call center costs will vary based on your needs and the type of support you need.
Peak Support typically charges an hourly fee based on time worked. Other companies may charge based on headcount, call volume, support channels needed, or a flat monthly fee.
Typically, when you hire a call center you’ll be covering the cost of agent salaries and any management and/or service fees. So depending on where your call center is based (U.S., Colombia, The Philippines, etc.), your costs will vary.
You also have the option of going with a shared call center rather than a dedicated one. A shared call center answers calls from multiple companies rather than being dedicated to your company alone. Shared call centers can be more cost-effective, but not having the team solely focused on your business can bring drawbacks.
Helpscout has it right: “To pick the right fit for your needs, always ensure you have clear requirements from both your company and from customer perspectives.”
How to get started with outsourcing your call center
Since costs and services can vary widely by company and location, your next best step is to contact an outsourcing company and start getting some cost estimates. An experienced call center sales team will ask you good questions, help you narrow down exactly what services you need, and provide you with a cost breakdown.
From there, you’ll want to determine what training items you will need to give to any potential call center you hire. Things like company and brand history, your mission, training documents, product information, and customer service goals should be written down.
Essentially, you want to train a BPO the same way you would train an in-house support team. From there, the BPO’s training team should train its own employees on your business.
Lastly, you’ll want to determine what the call center’s Service Level Agreements (SLAs) will be. Going beyond just metrics, SLAs hold a call center accountable by presenting the metrics and service levels and what happens if those are not met.
Let’s get started
An outsourced call center can be the ticket to bigger and better things for your business. They can help you scale quickly, improve customer satisfaction, increase the flexibility of your service hours, and overall save you some money.
All while allowing you to focus on what you need to within your business.
If you’re looking to get started with call center outsourcing, we’d love to speak with you! Contact Peak Support today to start exploring if outsourcing would be a good fit for you.