Not every inbound call center is right for you. Make sure you find a partner dedicated to high-touch quality and superior customer service.
Inbound Call Center
If you aren’t obsessed with quality, any inbound call center will do. You can offload customer service and ordering to the lowest-priced vendor and keep monthly contract costs to a minimum. However, there are some problems with this option:
- Your company probably does care about quality. It may even be the hallmark of your brand, in which case you have to be obsessed with quality when it comes to customer care. There’s no other way to protect your brand and meet customer expectations.
- Going the cheapest route up front is highly likely to cost you in other ways. It could cost you dearly, in tarnished reputation as well as lost sales.
- A relationship based entirely on price is not likely to result in a true working partnership. It’s like the guy that mows your lawn – he’s there to do a job, not to concern himself with the broader curb appeal or your home.
Still wondering if you should partner with an order fulfillment company? Take our needs assessment and find out.
It pays to choose carefully
Recognizing that costs do matter, may we recommend a better way to choose an inbound call center? We think your company will be much happier if you team up with a quality-obsessed customer care center. One that wants to be your partner, not just another vendor.
There are many factors you should consider, chief among them being what do you want to outsource? Only inbound call center operations? Or comprehensive end-to-end fulfillment? If you’re considering a single-source provider, look for one whose entire call center, warehousing and shipping operations are co-located. Streamlined communications and order processing keep things moving faster and more accurately.
Integrated systems and real-time communication keep you in the loop, too. You can make higher quality, timelier business decisions – It’s one more reason to choose a the right outsourcing partner.
The key questions you must ask
As you’re researching potential outsourcing partners, these questions will help you compare companies:What are their call center reps like? These are the folks who interact with your customers day after day for ordering and service questions. They will make your company’s first impression, and they will sell your products. Are they up to all that? Can you meet them in person to see how you respond to them?
1. What are your expertise areas?
Make sure the answer includes skills that match your company goals for outsourcing. Some outsource agencies are a one-stop shop that offer EVERYTHING. It’s up to you to decide if that’s what you’re looking for, or if you want them to be excellent at one or two things. Are you interested in reducing call-handling times, increasing patient satisfaction, better collection rates, payment plans for your patients? Your prospective outsourcing provider should demonstrate a depth of knowledge in the areas you’re looking for. Follow up with detailed questions based on strengths touted by the outsourcer–to see if they’re truly knowledgeable.
2. Who are your other clients?
Get some feedback on recent and/or current clients that you can call to verify. Maybe listen to some success stories. Ideally the clients should be of similar size or industry to yours. It’s not necessarily important for the outsourcer to have 50+ clients, but it is important that all your goals line up with theirs and they’re people you can see yourself working with.
3. What are your quality assurance processes?
Ask QA guidelines and training docs given to call center employees. Are calls recorded and monitored for quality assurance purposes, are they audited? That’s something very important – especially if complaints come up or lawsuits.
4. What are your performance stats?
Ask about wait times, retention rates, collection rates. Again, ask for success stories, case studies and examples to get a better idea.
5. Why are you better than the competition? What extra experience or services do you bring to the table?
Does the outsourcer provide helpful extras like a solid relationship/affiliation with a bad debt collection agency, for example? This is a distinct advantage when you’re outsourcing billing or collections.
6. Can you describe and demonstrate your technology?
Make sure tech is advanced enough so that calls are clear, that dropped calls are at a minimum, that behind-the-scenes sounds don’t interfere with calls. And again, are calls recorded and monitored?
7. Can you explain your data security measures?
Make sure you’re dealing with a state-of-the-art outsourcing firm. Be certain that data is protected and reliably stored. Ask about the disaster recovery plan. Bring a technical member of your staff to ask detailed follow-ups, inspect the answers given and equipment/tech processes used by the outsourcer.
8. How do you pre-screen call center staff?
As about background checks, pre-hire skills testing and staff turnover rate. It’s also important to SEE the call center and working conditions where your accounts will be handled or at least pictures of the place if you can’t get there. Make sure you are comfortable with the operation.
9. What are your contingency plans to ensure my customer service is not interrupted?
Does staff work on-site or from home? Ask how various emergency situations would be handled—for instance if severe weather kept staff away from work, what if the power goes out, etc…
10. What are your billing options?
Ask for an explanation for both the patients (people the call center is calling on) and how you are expected to pay them, and most importantly, how are you getting your money?
11. Does my company have to pay to train your staff?
The outsourcing company should be well-versed in your industry’s latest best practices and major software used, including practice management software, but in some cases, minimal training IS necessary, so discuss that up front.
12. Can we listen to some calls?
Evaluate whether you’d enjoy talking with the call center reps and whether they’re knowledgeable. Do they show basic customer service skills, such as empathy? Is there a smile in their voice? Do they speak loudly enough to be understood? Do they sound professional? Listen to collection calls to hear for yourself.
13. Who is our point person?
You should ideally be assigned a dedicated account manager who will report to you daily/weekly. Find out how escalations are handled. If possible, meet supervisors who will handle customer escalations and your account/project manager.
14. Will we have a dashboard?
This should include real time reporting, forecasting and stats that you can sign in to view/download as needed. Is there remote access so you can check accounts in real-time?
15. What does your debt structure look like?
You don’t know unless you ask… or do your research! Check to see if your outsourced call center services provider is publicly traded, owes money to investors, and is likely to stay in business over the long term. This is important, but often not asked or is overlooked. If they are not in debt (or owing money to investors), you can be rest assured that their motivation to collect money is for YOU, and not to pay back money for themselves.
The answers to these questions matter because quality matters. Learn more about our customizable services on our website or give us a call. Let us put our skills, experience and technology to work for you.