Call Centre Outsourcing: Beyond Cost Savings

Every business has to balance two competing demands. On one side, customers want the best possible prices and the best possible service.

On the other side, investors—even if that’s just the owner—will want good returns. Balancing these demands is not always easy. There is a close relationship between prices, service level, and profits. Anything that can keep profits and service high while lowering prices is, therefore, going to be popular.

“Call centres have gained most of their popularity on the fact they can reduce costs. Call centre outsourcing in the UK can achieve cost savings of around 10 to 15% when compared to an in-house operation. Less attention has been paid to the ability of outsourcing to increase customer service levels, but when outsourcing this business function, customer experience should be the key consideration when looking at the options,” says Ralf Ellspermann, CEO of PITON-Global, an award-winning contact centre outsourcing provider.

In practice, there is no reason why call centre outsourcing shouldn’t lead to improved customer experience. Indeed, when done well, whether in the UK or elsewhere, outsourcing often results in improved customer satisfaction and net promoter scores. Although the reasons why call centre outsourcing can be less costly might be more obvious, how can it produce more satisfied customers?

In practice, many of the same reasons call centre service providers offer savings also contribute to the improved customer satisfaction. As specialists, the scale of their operations means they are better able to utilise their resources effectively. Their size means they can attract high-quality staff, and once in post, the staff can benefit from better and more career development opportunities and training.

Additionally, call centre operators in the UK will typically have 20-50 clients and develop a deep domain expertise in the field, learning with every contract and from the wider sector. An individual business trying to operate a call centre simply cannot afford the capacity required, since its primary focus should remain on the firm’s core product and purpose.

The call centre outsourcing provider’s expertise is likely to produce better service all round. Whatever the sector they are working in, contact centres will be staffed with highly skilled and trained agents and equipped with the necessary infrastructure and technologies to deliver exceptional service. Customers may not even be aware that the function has been outsourced, simply noticing the improved service they receive.

“There are also collateral benefits that will extend to your business. Call centres will collect a significant amount of data from customers. You can use this data to inform and improve product and service delivery, identifying common problems so solutions can be developed. Analysing this data is a source of deeper understanding of customers that can drive innovation,” says Ellspermann.

The combined benefits of lower costs and improved customer service levels should be nearly irresistible. The decision not to use a call centre outsourcing provider is often driven by uncertainty after a previous bad experience. Many businesses suffered during the early wave of outsourcing when cheap providers—often from the Indian sub-continent, an early pioneer of call centres—resulted in poor customer experiences.

In fact, the quality of customer service should be the first thing to consider when outsourcing, whether domestically or offshore. “Call centre outsourcing failures come from bad customer experience. When customers are dissatisfied, it hurts the bottom line,” says Ellspermann.

“Our success has come from having staff with excellent English and neutral accents, who can communicate with UK customers effortlessly. If your call agents can’t make that connection, no cost saving in the world will match what you lose from frustrated customers,” he adds.

So, whether you are looking for the 15% you can save in the UK, or even the 40-50% offshore, customer experience should remain your top priority in selecting a call centre outsourcing provider.