Outbound Call Center Featured Article

Quality Can Make Offshore Customer-Acceptable: HyperQuality

June 17, 2009

Challenging economic conditions are keeping offshore outsourcing on the table and still picked up as a cost containment implement, despite the smoke and fire over keeping the call handling at home. What has been holding some companies back, reported HyperQuality are quality issues that can be resolved.
 
The firm recently released the results of a survey of contact center managers, directors and others regarding their companies’ struggles with the offshore/onshore issue. Among the findings: 

 
*          Regarding how their budgets were being impacted by the economic downturn 60 percent indicated their budgets are being cut year over year (YoY) while 30 percent said their budgets are about the same YoY. In contrast 10 percent indicated their budgets are increasing YoY
 
*          When asked if their firm is considering outsourcing more contact center functions 27 percent said yes: 17 percent of those will be outsourcing for the first time this year or 4 percent of the total. 34 percent said their mix of captive and outsourced contact center functions will stay the same. 10 percent said it will shrink outsourcing support
 
*          34 percent said they are considering offshoring more of their contact center functions, and of those 20 percent will be offshoring the first time this year or 5 percent of the total. Meanwhile 47 percent said their mix of captive and outsourced contact center functions will stay the same. At the same time 18 percent said they only use U.S. support
 
*          When asked if their firm has analyzed the effects of its brand associated with offshoring contact center functions 42 percent said their company believes it can deliver the same quality support offshore as it can onshore. 31 percent replied that a slight decline in quality from offshore contact center functions is worth the cost savings offshoring delivers. 20 percent said their company is focused on costs right now, so customer perception and brand is not a significant factor in the decision to offshore. 7 percent said their company did not consider the brand effects of offshoring 
 
*          In reply to why those that have they chosen to retain most or all of its contact center functions onshore 48 percent said offshored contact center functions may hurt the company’s brand. 21 percent said the cost of offshoring contact center functions is not competitive with internal costs. Meanwhile 23 percent said their company feels it is unpatriotic to offshore its contact center functions
 
An accompanying webinar revealed that of HyperQuality’s (News - Alert) customers, 67 percent are cost cutting in their contact centers because of the economy. The firm said that executives need to cut costs, but doing so at the expense of customer service is ill-advised for long-term growth. More companies are looking at outsourcing and offshoring as a cost-cutting measure, but are concerned about quality. CIOs are determining how much decline in quality they can accept in exchange for lowered operating costs.
 
Anecdotal data told HyperQuality that consumers don’t like the idea of outsourcing, especially offshore it doesn’t drive buying behavior if the experience is the positive. Outsourcing domestically or internationally without quality control can lower overall quality. While offshore contact centers often have slightly lower--though measurable--customer satisfaction scores, but quality assurance can improve that, and ensure the tradeoff is generating ROI.
 
The ultimate indicator of quality is whether the customer’s needs were met, said the firm. To achieve that offshoring must have a strong quality assurance component. Also, training needs to include more skills for offshore workers. ROI for offshoring still exists, but quality needs to be more closely monitoring.
 
Also in a Q&A Jasen Shirley, Contact Center Manager, Cross Country Home Services (CCHS) told Mike Mattsen, COO of HyperQuality:
 
*          A quality experience can overcome customer reluctance. Customers have become accustomed to accents on the phone, but culture still plays a major role. Monitoring, evaluations and analysis are more important in outsourced environments and give contact center managers the safety nets they need
 
*          CCHS’ customer satisfaction scores are almost directly aligned with agent training and tenure.  Location hasn’t been a factor in buying behavior, despite what consumers say in surveys
 
*          The firm’s best practices include training that it has developed that it saysgoes beyond learning the script. Training programs must focus on establishing rapport, grammar, technical skills, and sales effectiveness.  With HyperQuality, CCHS can specifically monitor and evaluate whether agents are adhering not just to the script, but to the entire training module put forth
 
*          Offshoring will backfire without quality monitoring. Internal evaluating and monitoring prevent objective analysis. Data analysis is essential in any contact center – on or offshore – to ensure that ROI is achieved. Quality assurance drives contact center outsourcers to enhance focus on quality and metrics
 
*          Rising unemployment rates will drive more domestic contact centers, particularly in rust belt areas. Currency value will continue to put pressure on the economics of offshoring. The administration has softened its stance on offshoring as it relates to lower-skill, lower-wage positions
 
*          CCHS’s key learnings from its offshoring experiences reveal thatquality scores at offshore centers are often just as high as domestic centers.Also,different cultures excel at different types of support.  Training should focus on cultural awareness
 
“When monitored and evaluated properly by HyperQuality, offshoring is a useful tool and should be considered,” said Shirley.
 
 

Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jessica Kostek

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