Choosing the Call Center that’s Best for You and Your Customers
Finding the right outsourced call center can be a daunting challenge. Try an online search for customer service providers and you’ll get 387 million results. How can anyone sort through all of that information?
For starters, if you thought the only two types of call centers were “onshore” vs “offshore,” it’s no longer that simple. Today, there are three major types: onshore, nearshore, and offshore. But within the onshore category, there are newer approaches that are driving call quality and customer experience even higher, while managing costs.
To help get you started, we’ve pulled together this easy reference to help you familiarize yourself with the basics of each.
With onshore, your call center operation and customer care agents are located within your own country (for the purposes of this article, I mean the United States or Canada). Traditionally, call centers required all customer care agents to work at a centralized facility. Not anymore. Today’s leading call centers, like Skybridge Americas, are able to employ teams of at-home agents. With at-home agents, we can recruit the most talented agents in the country, based on skill, experience, and their affinity to your brand, unlimited by geographic constraints. We also have the systems in place to supervise, and closely monitor the country’s most talented customer care agents. Be sure you ask your prospective call center about their at-home agent capabilities. Running a call center with at-home agents requires a substantial investment and serious commitment to the future. Skybridge Americas has been an industry leader in this innovation.
Customer Experience: Onshore creates the highest levels of “relatability” for your customers, with calls that feel more like conversations with a neighbor or friend. Because agents are native English speakers, there are fewer frustrations that can result from mismatched accents, unfamiliar colloquialisms, or other cultural misunderstandings.
Cost: Onshore has long been perceived as the most expensive option. It still is. But many providers, including Skybridge Americas, are able to help contain costs by operating in states with lower labor costs and employing at-home [can link to blog referencing at-home agents] agents.
Scalability: During periods of low unemployment, it can be challenging for traditional onshore facilities to maintain stable staff levels and even tougher to staff up or down to accommodate seasonal volumes or unexpected spikes. However, that’s all changing with at-home agents who are more able and willing to hop on the phone for shorter shifts when it doesn’t require commuting.
Ease of Transition: Transitioning your inbound customer care function to an onshore outsourcer is often the quickest, easiest, and least disruptive to your team’s operation. In fact, if you currently have an excellent inbound customer care team in place but need to offload the management responsibilities, some outsourcers, like Skybridge Americas, can rebadge [can link to future blog referencing benefits of rebadging] your team, taking over as employer and supervisor while keeping them at your site. It can be a great solution for leaders who have a high need to stay closely connected to their customer care operation.
It’s exactly what it sounds like. With nearshore outsourcing, the agents taking your customer calls do not reside within the U.S. or Canada but are located in nearby countries such as the Dominican Republic, Mexico, or Central America.
Customer Experience: With nearshore, your agents have true bilingual capability, vs English as a second language. That means you can expect fluent communication, near accent neutrality, and cultural relatability similar to what you would find onshore. Visiting the site to observe call monitoring or meet with supervisors can be slightly more challenging but rarely involves the kinds of travel expense or exhaustion factors associated with call centers located halfway around the globe.
Cost: Nearshore is often – and accurately – described as the best of both worlds: much of the convenience, physical and cultural closeness of onshore, with the lower costs of offshore.
Scalability: Depending upon the city and country selected, nearshore contact centers can scale equally as well as onshore operations. Likewise, absent a work@home option, they face the same seasonal and emergency constraints as onshore bricks-and-mortar providers.
Ease of Transition: With all of nearshore’s similarities to onshore, you should expect the move to be as seamless as it would be when simply moving onshore. Ask about the call center’s track record and reputation with transitions and verify their claims by getting references.
When you move your inbound customer care center offshore, you’re moving to a distant part of the globe. India, for example, was long considered the number one offshore location but, in recent years, other countries, particularly the Philippines have become more competitive and therefore more widely used. However, call centers located in these markets often see a decline in quality of customer experience as these markets become more saturated.
This is where there is a higher likelihood of communication challenges. There will likely be accent differences and the potential for cultural misunderstandings, leading to customer frustration. You’ll also have less of an up-close understanding of how your agents work and approach their interactions with customers. If you wish to personally observe call monitoring or meet with supervisors to discuss training, it’s important to know that visiting an offshore site is rarely a quick or easy endeavor. Every visit will require spanning multiple time zones, high travel costs, and a willingness to immerse yourself in a different culture with an open mind.
Cost: The largest advantage of an offshore call center is obvious: it’s nearly always the cheapest option. Offshore call centers are located in big cities with large labor pools, in countries with lower labor costs. Furthermore, the governments of these countries are often motivated woo call centers with various incentives. For very large-scale operations, the cost savings can be enormous.
Scalability and Size: Choosing offshore can make sense when you’re committed to filing hundreds, even thousands of seats. If you anticipate needing fewer than 100 seats, it’s likely not going to be a good fit for you.
Ease of Transition: Because of the greater physical distances and broader cultural differences, moving your inbound customer care team halfway around the world is more challenging, especially at first.
Which one is right for you?
I hope this guide is helpful as you get your arms around the basics. But the truth is, the most important factor in choosing your call center is the experience of the management team, the quality of training and supervision, and the level of commitment to superior customer experience. Shop carefully. Ask a lot of questions and take a close look at every finalist’s training and supervisor practices.
The outsource call center you choose will need to be a true partner in promoting your brand and competing on customer experience. Make sure they’re as invested in your success as you are.
To learn more about how Skybridge Americas can help you achieve your inbound customer care goals, please reach out. We would love to talk with you!
by Bobby Matthews
Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
Find out how Skybridge Americas can help you delight your customers and grow your business.
We seamlessly integrate our superior customer care skills with your brand messaging. For more information, contact us at 763-477-7720 or submit the form below!