by Dino Forte, Managing director and founder of outsourced, omni-channel, customer contact centre, Ventrica
1. Check the size and fit â€“ Before you commit, make sure the company is right for you. If they are too big, then you may be a small fish in a large pond and not get the attention you deserve and if too small then they may lack the resources, processes and middle management experience required, especially crucial if you are scaling up and down and need to manage large volumes of contacts such as Black Friday. Matching your ethos is also essential if you want them to accurately convey your brand values.
2.Are they experienced? â€“ Existing knowledge of your particular industry or market will make it quicker for an outsourcer to get campaigns up and running and in the long-term will be reflected in the overall efficiency, performance and results delivered. So if you are a fashion label then it makes sense to look for a supplier that has already worked in your sector or if youâ€™re a business that regularly takes debit or credit card payments, then you need to ensure the supplier has the necessary skills to handle this. Also think about your future requirements. You may only need phone contact now, but itâ€™s inevitable that you will need support for omni-channel or even potentially multilingual expertise sooner rather than later.
3.Always visit â€“ Never make a decision about appointing a supplier just by looking at the website or based on a phone call. Always, always visit both the people and place face-to-face to judge how they work and to see for yourself the sort of atmosphere and culture that exists in the contact centre. If they operate an â€˜open-doorâ€™ policy that allows you to pop in at any-time thatâ€™s a sure sign that they are likely to do a good job, and by staying on site you can see exactly how they manage customer interactions.
4.Donâ€™t buy on price, understand the value
If the costs are low then donâ€™t be surprised if this is reflected by lower quality due to lesser paid staff or lack of a professional high-tech infrastructure. Understand from the outset what and how you will measure performance, what KPIs are in place and where you can expect to see a return on investment as well as additional value and innovation from the third party, such as suggestions on how you can do something differently and increase efficiency.
5.Invest time into the relationship
Successful outsourcing, like a marriage, is based on a mutual partnership that requires commitment and effort from both sides. To get the most out of a lasting relationship, it needs to be a two-way street where there is no â€˜themâ€™ and â€˜usâ€™ but rather you are members of the same team working towards common goals. Adopting a â€˜partnerâ€™ rather than â€˜supplierâ€™ philosophy results in a win/win situation for everybody in the shape of enhanced service, increased sales and higher customer loyalty.