NSAM Call Center Insider
It is no secret that call centers in the Caribbean are fast finding customers in North America. As a Senior Manager of Fulfillment for a US-based business media company, my job was to make sure that I helped serve the telemarketing and audience recruitment needs of my company and our clients.
The decision to begin assessing Caribbean call center operators was simple. We simply weren’t getting the value we required out of American and Eurasian call centers (cost, competencies and reporting were all being scrutinized) and it was clear to us we needed to make some changes.
We found it- offshore – in the Caribbean on a random Google search. Once we established the relationship – the question remained: what now? Here are four guidelines to help you smooth possible bumps out of your experience:
Establish the level of management you would like to maintain, and stick to it. Most of the nearshore call centers are capable of providing both program and floor management for minimum contact. However, if you have the personnel to carry either program and/or floor management, work with your call center to find essentially the level of contact you desire and are comfortable with.
We found that it was critical to have consistent floor coverage at the management level. When questions came up about performance levels or whether a specific call script was meeting requirements, the floor manager was instrumental in providing “on the ground” insight.
Plan now and for the future. It is customary for call center to get into a “ride the hot hand” mentality, especially when the solution you’ve found is relieving the pressures on other programs and freeing up resources for other work within your business. Instead, sit with executive management at your call center, and plan not only for the maintenance, but also for the growth of that program along a proscribed timeline that will solve your issues in the short term as well as long term.
If you can, avoid deviations from that timeline. This will ensure that floor and/or program management at your center grows with you, and is ready and willing to take on added responsibility when it comes.
Communication is Everything. Internal management, especially internal program management, can remain strangely mum on problems and issues as they arise often in an attempt to “solve it themselves” and thus prove their own worth. Be proactive, both with program and floor management – if weaknesses have made themselves apparent to management, it will not always show immediately in the output. Set up KPIs and make sure program management, be it internal or external, is willing and able to report on any issues. If not, this could result in the soiling (and, in the worst case, the severance) of the vendor/client relationship with your provider.
Know that internal executive management should be willing and able to step in, if needed. This is after all your business. So run it.
You get what you pay for, or do you? At most Nearshore call centers, you get what you ask for and sometimes you have to pay for it. Again, Executive Management at your call center can usually be a great help with this, but such issues as quality control, reporting, agent interface setup, and the like, are often not the first thing that internal executive management thinks of when they ask for a Nearshore solution (It is usually more along the lines of “how much”?).
Make sure that quality controls at your call center are not only something that you can live with, but that your clients can live with. Make sure that reporting is timely and gives you either your KPIs or the raw data to calculate them. Set boundaries, and make sure that your program manage enforces them. If you need it, ask for it; many times, your call center will be able to provide for lower cost than you might have expected.
NSAM Call Center Insider