A call center is one of the core business solutions for large companies, which might be receiving calls from hundreds to thousands of customers concerning their products and services. It is all the more critical for larger companies to provide a human and personal touch to nurture customers’ satisfaction and loyalty. Giving out your company’s functions to a call center in some remote location might seem risky at best and potentially devastating at worst. Of course, there can be risks in outsourcing. However, as soon as you know how to identify the red flags, you can mitigate or even altogether avoid them.
Defining the risks of outsourcing and ways of alleviating them
Which of the following is a risk of outsourcing information systems? In truth, all scenarios described below can leave a negative outcome. Let’s consider the nature of every threat and the ways of avoiding or resolving it.
Risk: No regulation over the quality of personnel or the company culture.
Solution: Do not go for the lowest price offered amongst the OCCs. Make a balanced and grounded choice based on multiple criteria, such as reviews and company reputation, control points and scenarios they can reference, and their commitment to delivering expectations. It is advisable to fix everything in a legally binding contract under your country’s (not the OCC's) legal jurisdiction.
Risk: Leaks of your client databases, information about your company’s internal procedures, processes, patents, know-how, commercial secrets, and anything that can tarnish your company’s standing.
Solution: As this is one of the most insidious risks, non-disclosure demands must be stated clearly in the contract, and standard quality control techniques must be implemented. They include but are not limited to the implementation of protected internal networks of an OCC, breach-protected data storing servers, limitation of access rights with separation of roles via hierarchy (user, manager, admin, reporting creation role, controller, etc.), up-to-date log of all user’s activity, online breach and leakage control, restriction of copying, downloading and uploading anything from roles and working stations of regular users, and so on. You could use some of the best security standards on the market (such as PCI DSS, TCPA, HIPAA, TSR) as well as elaborate your own methodology.
Risk: Operators of an OCC located in another continent, country, or region might not speak as well as required. They also might have differences in life philosophies, religion, commitment to work, culture. Even the different time zone might raise a potential barrier.
Solution: It is advisable to enable such OCC employees only for non-critical tasks, for instance, answering in text, and only for simple issues, which are semi-automated or basic in nature. These may also be engineers of the second line of support – those who fix or fine-tune something in a system (software) or account of a user, without direct consumer communication (for which their language knowledge might not be necessary at all).
In critical issues, make sure you will not lose your clients because of the language barrier. Therefore, it is advisable to go for high-profile and high-quality OCCs to better deliver the required high standards (though often at a higher price).
Geopolitical pitfalls of outsourcing
Risk: The impossibility to render services to your country if politically forbidden or sanctioned.
Solution: Having a call center outsourcing in China, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, or in one of the other multiple locations, which are sanctioned or restricted? In any case, these are undesirable OCC company locations, considering how many of such places aren’t thriving internationally, given the tension among countries. Although China is a global outsourcer for the rest of the world, it keeps getting more and more sanctions and barriers from the USA and the EU. You never know when there will be a command to stop cooperating with China or another country altogether. It is always better to resort to politically neutral locations or, if possible, search for something inside your country. The latter has increasingly become a strong trend that contradicts globalization, especially since 2020 and further on, as Covid created many online outsourcing companies of all kinds within nearly every country.
Weather anomalies as potential hazards of outsourcing
Risk: If your OCC is in a place with frequent floods, wildfires, tsunamis, tornadoes, and other natural disasters, it leads to frequent service disruptions.
Solution: Analyze how critical it is for you to provide uninterrupted service to your customers. Most often, it is always the case. Then you simply cannot afford to contract with a provider who is located in a place of unrest. As the global climate gets more unbalanced every month, fewer locations in the world are deemed suitable for hosting outsource telemarketing companies.
Sudden Influx or Rise in Customers
Risk: When your company goes to a market with some new offer or product, the number of client requests and other types of calls/chats may rise so dramatically that you won’t have enough personnel to answer them all. These risks are often mitigated with an OCC as they promise to scale up and down as needed.
Solution: The need for positive or negative scaling is implemented when you see a swiftly increasing/decreasing number of contacts from your clients. Similarly, you don’t need as many operators for calls involving passive tasks such as polls, surveys, etc. External call centers often promise to free you from these routine tasks, which are a true headache for many managers: recruitment, selection, onboarding, training, change of positions, firing, taxation, various legal and tax forms filing, etc. The OCC should directly and emphatically promise to make scaling possible at their expense and expertise.
Conclusion on the risks of outsourcing
We have identified the primary risks of outsourcing a call center and ways of avoiding them. Indeed, there are also other risks, like an unforeseen price increase on services rendered. As with anything, having it in writing and checked over by a legal team member within your company is advisable. Don’t let the low potential risks keep you from the high potential reward!