How to Create an Outsourced Contact Center Primed to Scale

By July 23, 2014Industry Issues

Author: Andrew Bates, Executive Director – Financial Services

Outsourcing financial services contact centers is about much more than cost cutting based on a partners ability to leverage economies of scale. When it comes to outsourcing bank customer service transactions, the strategic approach should be to focus on sustainable improvements to efficiency and effectiveness with the end goal of achieving the service excellence that drives business objectives.

Take a Selective Approach
To address the key challenge of creating value beyond cost savings, consider selective outsourcing as a viable approach to begin managing expansion. Selective outsourcing is the act of selecting a customer support delivery partner to provide services for a specific line of business; deposits or credit card fraud for example. Once you have an established base for one line of business, scaling a selective service center into support for other lines of business becomes less risky, more efficient, and consolidates costs.

A few of the short-term benefits that can be realized from selective outsourcing include:

Faster Time to Value Realization – A tight focus on a line of business allows seasoned contact center partners to quickly stand up processes and standards that can be customized to your institution’s specific needs based on methodology that is tried, tested, and known to perform.
Instant Organizational Structure – Because the partner knows exactly what it takes to run a high-performance contact center, the management structure, training programs, and operational practices are competently orchestrated within a compressed timeframe.
Access to Best Practices – The selective outsourcing provider automatically integrates most efficient business processes with banking technology platforms. This allows bank staff to learn from these experts and leverage that knowledge to source change in the future.
Increased Scalability – The contact center partner manages capacity on behalf of the bank while providing the resources to scale quickly if demand grows rapidly.

Design Scope of Contract for Results, Not Activity

When you consider the scope of the contract negotiated, are you buying activity or results?
Is the scope you defined all about numbers and speed, or does it prioritize the delivery of differentiated services that will increase customer satisfaction and loyalty?

Cost can only be a meaningful measure when it is balanced against value. A contract based on results is focused on maximizing the cost of servicing the client in relation to the value the interaction provides to the organization. By removing cost as the primary concern, value can now come to the fore. An outsourced partner with experience in customer interaction design will be able to apply their expertise in developing processes focused on outcomes, as well as efficiency—and without sacrifice.

An activity-based contract will be focused on increasing speed to reduce costs. Metrics such as average handle time (AHT), calls per hour, and delay in queue lead the charge here. While the company line to agents may be customer satisfaction, the underlying message is loud and clear; Hurry up!

Research conducted across more than 100 contact centers in the UK by Aston University found that contact centers focused on outcomes operate at lower cost and deliver higher value to their organizations than those focused on reducing cost.

Ensure Multiple Delivery Options

How you approach an outsourced contact center presents a variety of options when considering how to manage the decision of keeping work onshore, incorporating virtual agents, moving to near shore, or transitioning to offshore locations to handle expansion needs.

Each of these options should be evaluated based on the type of support and services offered in conjunction with the expectations of the customers seeking service. Some considerations when considering delivery options include:

Virtual Agents – As secure as a brick and mortar solution, Home-based agents provide a flexible source of cost-effective service delivery due to lower infrastructure requirements and enhanced recruitment through a deeper, more geographically dispersed, labor pool. These virtual employees enable “brick and mortar” contact centers the flexibility for rapid scale and can be easily incorporated into existing contact center practices.
On Shore – Choosing to remain on shore is often due to customer expectations. This is especially true with the home mortgage line of business in the United States. Americans feel more comfortable dealing with localized support in relation to financial dealings that normally entail the biggest purchase they’ll ever make during their lifetimes.
Near Shore – Contact centers located in Latin America, for example can be highly beneficial when serving a high-volume Hispanic customer base. Hispanics now comprise some 16 percent of the U.S.’s 309 million residents and amounted to more than half the nation’s 27 million population increase over the past decade. Hispanics will prefer to speak in Spanish, even when they know English, especially on involved customer service and support calls.
Off Shore – For many other interactions, such as credit card support and deposits, an offshore location can provide both cost efficiencies and staffing with a cultural affinity that makes the service a seamless experience for customers.

Regardless of which delivery model or combination of models you choose now, it’s wise to select an outsourced contact center partner that can handle any of these choices as future opportunities are revealed.

An Outsourced Contact Center is Not a Transfer, But a Transformation

A contact center that is primed to scale is one based on a long-term vision from the start. It may begin with a selective focus, but it is by doing so that the foundation is put into place for growth and evolution to produce transformative results for additional lines of business in the future. By ensuring that you define the experience your marketplace expects and design the contract based on results tied to business objectives, the value add can become far more substantial than incremental cost-per-call reductions.

Finally, to ensure this transformation is based on continuous improvement, your bank should continuously monitor quality, customer satisfaction, regulatory compliance and performance improvements in collaboration with the partner. The marketplace is continually changing. Establishing a collaborative relationship with your outsourced contact center partner can also uncover additional opportunities and proactive adaptation that keeps your service excellence highly compatible with your customers’ expectations.

Taking a forward-leaning approach to outsourcing your contact center will not only enable the transformation of service to one line of business, but prime your contact center to scale rapidly as new lines of business make the transition.

SYKES

Author SYKES

We provide customer contact management solutions to global leaders. Our end-to-end service platform engages your customers at every touch point in the customer lifecycle, starting from digital marketing and acquisition to customer support, technical support, up-sell, cross-sell and retention.

More posts by SYKES