My name is A.J. Windle, and I’ve worked in the call center industry for more than 20 years. I’ve been a call center agent, Supervisor, QA Manager, Program Manager, Facilities Manager, Director of Operations, and Director of Client Engagement. My experience includes running multiple call center businesses, managing programs working directly with 40+ unique call center partners, and collaborating with hundreds of clients, building successful inbound and outbound call center programs.
These experiences have allowed me to understand the various perspectives of what greatness for an inbound and outbound call center looks like. I know what the proper structure of people looks like and their responsibilities, and I understand how having the right culture, technology, and process breeds success.
But if you don’t have my experience, how do you find the best inbound and outbound call center for your business?
Today, I’m sharing my opinion on a few critical components that make a great inbound and outbound call center and the questions to ask to ensure you’re looking at suitable locations to support your business needs.
Experience & Specialty
Make sure the call center you are researching has experience in your industry and specializes in the type of program where you need support.
For instance, any call center can say they support inbound and outbound work; however, they may not say that 90% of their business is outbound and only 10% of their work has been inbound. This may be great news if you’re looking for outbound calling; however, if you’re exploring customer service support, not so much.
I recommend you ask the following clarifying questions:
- How many years have you been providing outbound or inbound services?
- What percentage of your business is outbound vs. inbound?
- What specific services do you provide for outbound and/or inbound?
- What are the top 3 industries you serve & what percentage of your annual business do these industries make up?
- Can you provide me with client references for the inbound or outbound work you have conducted for them?
ProTip: Ask these questions before you provide a complete detailed description of what you’re looking for.
Nothing is worse for a client than outsourcing in-house work and being completely disconnected from what’s happening daily due to a lack of responsiveness and communication.
Processes for communication are vital! Remember that communication comes in all forms (reports, data, verbal, and in-person). Ensure the inbound and outbound call center you choose has proper quick, accurate, and consistent communication methods.
Ask These Questions
- Will I have a direct point of contact?
- How will I communicate and interact with my point of contact?
- What are your company’s expectations regarding frequency and client communication methods for this person?
- How many other clients will this person manage?
- What other organization members will I directly interact with, and what is your company’s escalation process?
- Are periodic round tables with the team handling my program available?
- How will results be communicated to me, and what is the frequency they will be delivered?
- How will updated data be shared with me, and what is the frequency of delivery?
Know Your Ratios
Having the proper management to agent ratios is critical. However, with too much on their plate and spread thin, management can quickly become a pitfall to any program.
Here are my recommendations:
- Training: 1 Trainer to every 10 Trainees (based on the complexity of the sales program)
- Supervisor: 1 Supervisor for every 12 agents. I recommend a lower ratio during the start-up of any program or with a highly complex program that requires deep knowledge, multiple systems, and various dynamic tasks from the agent.
- Quality Assurance: 1 QA Manager to every 30 agents.
- Operations: 1 Manager managing no more than four programs simultaneously.
Flexibility & Scalability
The only constant is change. You will no doubt experience change while outsourcing your program. Change in agents, changes in scripting, changes in processes, maybe program objective, and even size of the team.
Understanding how the inbound and outbound call center you partner with will handle these changes is essential.
You might ask:
- What is the typical implementation timeframe for requested changes to (insert potential items of change)? Note this won’t be specific; however, it will give you a general sense of the team’s flexibility.
- How many locations do you have?
- How many total seats do you have?
- What is your capacity for growth?
- How long would it take to double or triple my team if requested?
Review the Evidence
The questions you ask and the answers you receive will undoubtedly provide you with a great foundation to understand if you are heading in the right direction to selecting the right inbound and outbound call center partner.
That said, one of the most critical components to selecting the right partner is meeting the team, managers, and agents to see the call center’s culture live and in person.
By visiting, you will know, very quickly, the type of culture the call center has and how that culture/team aligns with your organizational goals.
Performing a virtual or in-person tour of the call center’s location will allow you to solidify the evidence you’ve received in your due diligence process to ensure what was shared with you aligns with what is being done.
You’ll get a first-hand look at what types of programs are running, how the supervisors/management interacts with the team, what KPIs are monitored and what levers the team’s pull to drive those metrics.
You’ll see how the team is motivated, what the energy is like and if the culture resonates throughout the team. One day spent in a call center is worth more than 10 calls on the phone.
Pro Tip: Spend as much time speaking with various front-line agents as possible. These will be the people representing your organization and will give you a solid understanding of how they will treat your current or prospective customers.
Quality Contact Solutions (an AnswerNet Company) has been in business for over 15 years. With over 30 locations and multiple industries thought leaders, we are ready to help your organization with its inbound and outbound call center needs.
Give us a call at 1 (866) 963-2889 and press 1 for sales. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to help!
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A.J. Windle is the Director of Client Engagement of Quality Contact Solutions. A.J. is responsible for translating client visions into telemarketing reality. He works closely with the operations team to ensure every client program is successful daily, including achieving the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that matter most. With a deep call center operations background, A.J. is a hands-on leader and has built his career on creating win-win relationships for his clients and QCS. A.J. knows that great leaders find a way to ensure their team wins. You can reach A.J. at email@example.com or 516-656-5106.