Contact management, even for a small business, can quickly become incredibly complex. It was once a relatively simple task—businesses dealt with their customers directly—but the range of communication options has grown. And, with it, the ease with which customers can use them. When once the role of a call centre may have been simply a responsive one, handling calls from customers and recording information, it has now transformed beyond recognition.
Customer service might need to be available 24 hours a day, available on multiple platforms and able to switch between them with ease. They may even need to be proactive, monitoring social media channels to reach out to people who are expressing problems with their products or services.
While it is possible to manage such services in house, and some businesses do, the use of contact centre outsourcing in Australia has been growing. The benefits might seem to be obvious. A call centre offers cost savings to their clients—typically, an outsourced provider will be 10 to 15% lower than the equivalent in-house operation. Outsourcing also restores the capacity to the business. Even though the in-house call centre would have been fully staffed, it would have absorbed the time and energies of senior leaders and internal service functions that should, ideally, be dedicated to the core goals of the organisation.
However, it is the improvement in customer service that should be at the forefront of the decision. “Businesses frequently go for the headline savings figure, then realise there’s a much bigger price to be paid if customer experience takes a hit,” says Ralf Ellspermann, CEO of PITON-Global, a leading mid-sized call centre in Manila. “In fact, a well-established contact centre should be able to improve the customer experience, often dramatically,” he adds.
It is perhaps an obvious statement, but using a provider with deep domain expertise should result in service level improvements. But, for some reason, this isn’t always the expectation with a call centre, and many procurement decisions are made without enough regard to quality.
An immediate benefit of outsourced call centres is that they bring economies of scale. Some of these are manifested in the cost savings, but the centres also bring significant experience and expertise to the functions they perform. Most centres may have several clients, and that means they can offer a more attractive career structure, with better staff and development, than in-house counterparts. It also means they can resource better internally, allowing them to adapt and scale when needed.
Their size requires them to be better equipped. Since customer service is their primary function, they tend to ensure they are following trends and developments within the industry. Having the best staff available is one thing but given the complexity of modern call centres in Australia, where an issue might transfer over two or more different communication channels, having infrastructure that can manage that is absolutely essential.
The net result is that, when done properly, businesses will see their customer satisfaction go up following an outsourcing decision. Few customers think about who handles their issue or where that person is located; they are concerned about the resolution. And that influences their sentiment towards the company.
“The key to successful outsourcing,” says Ellspermann, “whether in Australia or to contact centres in the Philippines, is quality. Call centre outsourcing provides a tantalising prospect, with savings up to 15% in Australia and up to 50% in Manila, combined with improvements to customer experience. But only if you make sure you have the right call centre, outsourcing partner.”