Outsourcing the Customer Experience

I’ve had a lot of conversations recently about outsourcing the contact center function of an organization.  The decision to “go with an outsourcer” is always controversial, and can be disastrous if not handled properly.  Alternatively, a good outsourcer can be an excellent way to deliver a quality experience in a very cost effective, value-added way.  Below are some thoughts about how to ensure your outsourcer is delivering the experience, as well as the efficiency, your customers deserve.
It’s more than the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
KPIs measure efficiency of the organization to perform the tasks it has been contracted to perform.  KPIs do not measure the effectiveness of those tasks.  If an organization only manages success or failure of a contact center based on average handle time (AHT), average speed of answer (ASA), and call abandon rate, then all they are measuring is efficiency, or how cost-effectively calls are being answered.  What they are not measuring is how well those calls are being answered in terms of the customer experience.  That’s like a Formula One car measuring only speed, rpms, and tire erosion, but not paying any attention to where the car is driving.  The result is predictable.   Just as surely as the Formula One car will be racing on the wrong track, the calls will be confusing customers, giving incorrect information, and essentially driving customers away from the brand.  But since the organization is managing the KPIs, at least the customers are being driven away as efficiently as possible.  Yikes!
To overcome this challenge, organizations who rely on outsource contact centers are wise to spend a lot of time actively managing the experience of the call, in addition to the KPIs.  This means ensuring that the quality documentation reflect the experience you want your customers to have.
One way to do this is by taking an active, leadership role in designing the quality monitoring form.  Call centers use this document to rate the “quality” of a call they have monitored, and also use this form as a basis of training, coaching, and rewarding customer service agents.  Often outsourcers will provide a “cookie cutter” quality form they use with all of their clients.  If your brand offers a “cookie cutter” experience, then I guess that’s good enough.  I suspect, however, that your brand offers a unique promise of quality, value, and authenticity.   To ensure this promise finds its way to your customers, spend time with your outsourcer adjusting the quality form to reflect the experience you want your customers to have.   Then work with your outsourcer to implement this form, train to the form, and coach to the form.  Finally, frequently call your toll-free number and “mystery shop” your call center and use the form to measure the quality of experience your customers are having.  Scoring each of these calls and sharing the results with your outsourcer with go a long way in helping your outsourcer deliver the experience you are paying them to deliver.
Next week I’ll talk about how to ensure the “voice of the brand” is present on every call, even if you use an outsource call center.
Thank you for reading.  Comments are always welcome.