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Men In Suits Shaking Hands

To Outsource or not to Outsource that is the Question

7 min read
Author Business Systems UK
Date Oct 8, 2014
Category Contact Centre Optimisation

CONTACT CENTRE GUIDE BLOG: 4/9 recently published ‘The Contact Centre Guide’ which was sponsored by Business Systems. For those short on time, we created a series of blogs covering the highlights from each chapter.

Please find the 4th in the series below.

Outsourcing of contact centre services can be a very emotive issue and has suffered in the past from poor press and unhappy customers who value ‘a local service’. In spite of this it still remains an appealing option for many organisations with major brands continuing to proceed with an outsourcing strategy for handling customer contact.

Whilst controversy may have dogged contact centre outsourcing historically, if handled in the right way, there is no doubt it can be as valuable as any other outsourcing project. One way to look at it according to Paul Smedley, Executive Director of the Professional Planning Forum is that “people outsource because they want to do it better and because they don’t want to invest in it themselves.” This has not always been the case however and where it has failed in the past is where the focus has been on doing it cheaper.
Whilst offshoring services such as IT has grown in recent years, a recent survey of 250 British firms by Aspect found that 90% of retailers and utility firms now have their primary customer service operations based back in the UK. Ovum research also suggests that of large enterprises in Europe, North America and Australia only 10% expect to offshore customer service through 2014. The lack of enthusiasm for offshoring is primarily down to the expected value of this approach not being realised and businesses seeking to deliver a more local approach with customers, following backlash in the past.

As businesses become more customer-focussed there has been a shift in emphasis and KPI’s within contact centres away from costs and more on value and experience. Having said this there is still clearly demand for offshoring with new bases for providers in The Philippines and South Africa. Anne Marie Forsyth, Chief Executive of the Contact Centre Association comments “what is driving the decision now is the levels of flexibility and businesses doing business globally rather than in one place.” She notes that the decision to outsource is now more driven around acquiring skills you don’t have and being multilingual.

What should you consider before outsourcing?
Anne Marie makes some good points about what you should consider before outsourcing customer service, firstly is everything the way it should be before it goes off your site? Do you have management capability in the offshore location you’re thinking of or can you get it easily? Getting the right management in place is essential because you’re not just managing voice, your also managing multichannel, offshore operations and new systems.

Paul Smedley also gives some great advice “include your outsourcers in just the same way you include the employees of your company in innovation and learning. Feedback to them on their ideas, pilot things with them as well as your internal people. If you’re outsourcing successfully, what you’re effectively doing is pushing the boundaries of your organisations further out, rather than separating yourself from them.”
Outsourcing of course is not just restricted to offshore, thanks to the easing of the labour market in the UK and government incentives, onshoring is increasingly gaining traction. O2 is a recent example of this and have outsourced telephone support in a 10 year deal worth £1.2bn, transferring 2,700 staff to provider Capita in one of the UK’s biggest ever outsourcing deals.

Ultimately it depends on what kind of business you are and whether you want to focus solely on your core activity and leaving the service element to proven experts or whether having control is important to your organisation.

Read the ‘Contact Centre Guide Blog 1/9 – The changing contact centre – and what you can do about it’ here.