By Kelli Barabasz

Working with inbound call center services in the call center industry for over 25 years I get a lot of questions. One of the most common is, “Aren’t all call centers the same, I mean a call center is a call center, right?” Well, there is a straightforward answer to that question… No, call centers are different, specifically those that provide inbound call center services.

Before selecting the inbound call center services provider that is right for your business, it’s important to spend the time to research each company and evaluate specific components. But, do you really know what you need and are looking for?

Here are questions that will help you get down to the nitty-gritty of your requirements. Let’s get to work.

Technology

What type of technology is needed to outsource your program or book of business successfully?

  • Will you need 100% live agents?
  • Do you need IVR capabilities?
  • Will you require omnichannel support through phone, chat, email, etc.?
  • Do you prefer or require that the inbound call center services team use your internal systems such as a CRM, email, scheduling software, etc.?

Technology is fundamental in agent productivity with an inbound call center services team. A firm understanding of the technology requirements are essential to be set up for maximum success. Answers to questions mentioned above will help drive the type of call center provider you work with. If they don’t have the ability to meet your technological requirements, no need to evaluate them further.

Capacity

To make sure the inbound call center services team is appropriately staffed, it’s essential to understand the capacity requirements for your business. Use these questions to help identify the staffing specifications needed:

  • How many seats do you need, and what hours of operation?
  • What type of call volume do you currently have, or are you expecting?
  • Do you need a dedicated or shared environment?
  • What type of flexibility are you looking for (10% over or under forecast coverage)?
  • What hours of coverage do you need? (24/7, 8-8 EST, five days a week)?

Budget

What type of budget do you have? Are there funds specifically for a concept test to determine the viability of this project? Or, is there a long-term commitment based upon the current business needs? Hourly rates vary depending on your program’s size, the complexity of the program, and many other vital components.

If you are looking at a small budget, you have to understand what your options are. Is it critical to your business to use a U.S. based inbound call center services provider? If not, does it make sense to explore a nearshore partner?

Compliance

What are your compliance requirements?

  • Do you have any HIPAA or PCI compliance requirements?
  • Is it important for your inbound call center services partner business to be PACE CECP certified?
  • Are there any SOC 2 requirements?
  • What additional security requirements are business critical that must be considered?

Management

Understanding how much involvement you would you like to have in the day-to-day operation is important. Are you looking to tightly manage the call center, or do you want an inbound call center services partner to manage the day-to-day you while you’re kept informed on performance?

Evaluating inbound call center services partners

Would you hire a team member without reviewing their resume or their past work history? The same is true for a potential inbound call center services partner. Questions to consider:

  • What does the call center or outsourced call center services resume look like?
  • Do they have referrals that you can contact?
  • Do they have any awards for their services?
  • What types of programs do they currently manage?
  • What type of culture do they have?

At the end of the day, no, all call centers aren’t the same. There are many considerations when beginning the evaluation process. Take your time and clearly understand what you’re looking for in order to be the most successful in your inbound call center services partnership.

Kelli Barabasz is Vice President of Operations for Quality Contact Solutions.  Kelli is a call center industry leader with over 25 years of experience and success with call center startups, client management and implementations. Kelli’s detail-oriented approach is used to analyze existing operations and to implement best practices, new strategies, processes and efficiencies, enabling her clients to achieve better outcomes. Throughout her career, Kelli has worked on both inbound and outbound B2B and B2C programs.   With expertise in call center operations, training, workforce management and client services, Kelli has an unmatched ability to get results for her clients which have included PBM SXC Health Solutions (now Optum RX), Verizon Wireless, Figis, Vermont Teddy Bear Company & Demarini Bats. At PBM, Kelli’s underlying clients EUTF, Cigna, Health Spring, TennCare and PharMerica.  Kelli speaks at call center seminars around the globe to share her industry knowledge and insights with her peers.  Kelli can be reached at kelli@qualitycontactsolutions.com or 516-656-5121.