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Outsource This


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Outsourcing is not an all or nothing proposition; you can be selective.

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Outsource This

  1. 1. 2010Robert TrentFounder & PresidentContact Center Transformation Group, Inc.10/12/2010<br />“Outsource this…”What exactly should I be outsourcing?Don’t ask “should I outsource”, ask “what should I outsource?”<br />Yes the world is flat and yes outsourcing is here to stay. <br />Regardless of your political attitudes, there is no getting around it; outsourcing contact center environments is an economic necessity if businesses are to compete. Technology, the speed of communications, and international trade come together to create an economic environment that has expanded market places and increased competition to a point that was unimaginable just a decade ago. Companies worldwide have no choice but to compete for resources and markets on an even playing field. This field is enabled by highly sophisticated, cost effective voice and data infrastructures, and human resources that must compete for jobs on a global basis.<br />Some will ignore the enviable and choose not to consider outsourcing as an alternative to the way they run their business. They will do so at the risk of losing customers, or worse, business failure. Others will struggle with the decision not to outsource but will do so to capitalize on the rewards it affords at the expense of being “Political Correct”. And yet, for others, the decision will be easy. <br />I want to address this middle group. To those who may be reluctant to move to an outsourced solution for whatever reason, there is a middle ground. Outsourcing doesn’t mean moving the jobs out of your enterprise to an overseas company, giving up control of how your customers are handled, and operating at the mercy of people thousands of miles away. <br />Outsourcing Options<br />Deciding to outsource your contact center environment can be broken down into two components; outsourcing people and/or outsourcing technology. Either one or both can be outsourced in a way that offers you the benefits of having an outsourced solution without the risks inherent in an “all or nothing” approach. Even these two components can be broken down into sub-components that can be outsourced separately from one another. <br />For example, some workgroups can remain in the enterprise while others can be outsourced. The same is true with technology. Certain components of the technology can remain “on premise” or within your companies IT environment while other components can be outsourced. <br />Another important consideration is you “business process”. In an outsourcing environment, the design and the responsibility for its success are shared between your company and your outsourcer. The business process and handoffs between you and the company you choose to outsource to are critical to the whole endeavor being successful. <br />With people, processes, and technologies, different scenarios can offer a limitless number of possibilities, each of which carries its own benefits and risks. Let’s look at the benefits and risks associated with some of them at a high level. <br />Keeping the workgroups inside the enterprise and outsource the technology offers a relatively low risk and can cut your capital expense and maintenance down considerably. With this model you can outsource some or all your technology infrastructure. There are outsourcing companies that specialize in just this side of the outsourcing industry. Here are a few of the benefits and risks associated with this approach.<br />Outsourcing Technology Infrastructure<br />BenefitsRisksLowering the rising cost of technologyFacing possible integration issues with in-house applicationsLowering capital expenseIncreasing your operating expenseHaving the latest capabilities afforded by improvements in technologyLimiting your capabilities that the outsourcers technology may not haveEnhancing the center’s resiliencyLoosing direct control of hardware / softwareImproving your disaster recovery architectureIncreasing the need for security precautions<br />Now let’s look at keeping the technology but outsource the people. In this example you can outsource all of the contact center agents or choose to outsource a sub-set of the group. Here are a few of the benefits and risks associated with this approach.<br />Outsourcing Agents<br />BenefitsRisksHaving direct control of the technologyHaving possible process issues between the business, the outsourcer and your IT organizationLowering risk around data security by keeping the technology in-houseRisking the way your customers are handled by your own people (outsourcer may not handle the “customer” as you would creating a loss of business) Continuing to depreciate existing technology assets already in placeRisking insufficient reports (outsourcer may not provide the level of detail in their reports you need)Making it easier to manage the business by holding the outsourcer accountable for meeting service levels Risking inaccurate reports (outsourcer can mask information in reports that reflect possible inefficiencies that you should be aware of)Moving to an expense cash flow model and lower your fixed operating costsNot having as much control of the process because it becomes a shared responsibility <br />Questions you should ask before moving to an outsourcer<br />Here are a few questions that you need to ask before moving forward:<br />What are my current costs associated with operating my contact center?<br />What is my current cost per call?<br />What is my cost per transaction?<br />What is my cost per minute?<br />How will I ensure that my customers will be treated as good as I treat them now or better?<br />What are my performance metrics now and can I convert them into meaningful SLA’s that I can use to manage an outsourcing company?<br />What are my current training costs for an agent?<br />What is the training cycle time to bring a new hire up to an acceptable performance level?<br />What is my current utilization and will there be any benefit to moving to a new expense model?<br />What security issues are associated with moving the technology or the people an outsourcer?<br />Can I build a sound business case to justify the move keeping in mind all the potential risks associated with it?<br />Should I consider creating a network based technology infrastructure in-house and outsource just the agents?<br />If I outsource the technology will I have integration issues with the technology that I want to keep direct control of such as the specific applications and data bases I now have on premise?<br />Should I outsource agents to non-customer facing applications only?<br />Do outsourcers have a greater level of expertise than I have or could develop internally since they perform similar functions for a large number of companies and have much more experience than I do?<br />Is my disaster recovery plan as robust as it needs to be or would outsourcing the technology be an improvement to my plan?<br />Is there a way to ease into using an outsourcer that will have little impact on the business during the transition period?<br />Can I use natural agent attrition to reduce or eliminate the impact the move to an outsourcing service will have on our current agents?<br />What control will I have on changes I need in the way the technology is configured? <br />Are my current business processes documented sufficiently well enough to facilitate the change of moving to an outsourcer for either part of my current environment?<br />Summary<br />With our current economic environment here in the US and around the world, outsourcing may not be the most popular idea in the executive suite, but it is one that needs to be considered. Contrary to some beliefs, a decision to outsource can be positive from a public relations perspective with a little creativity. <br />Think about engaging the handicapped using a technology architecture that facilitates home-based handicapped workers. How about relieving the IT group that supports the contact center from the low value, mundane tasks of hardware and software maintenance and shift their responsibilities over to more of a consultative role with the contact center operations management group? Consider the environmental impact to not having hundreds of agents driving into a contact center on a daily basis, around the clock; less traffic, lower exhaust fumes from cars, a smaller contact center facility required with flexible agent workstations. <br />Yes there are many good reasons to move to outsourcing, even if you start with a small part of your contact center operations and the technology that supports it. It requires planning and a well managed change control process but the rewards are well worth the effort. <br />About the author:<br />Robert Trent has had a career spanning 37 years, in business and education. He served on a Special Task Force for the State of New Jersey, held executive positions Fortune 100 companies. <br />Trent is an expert author, consultant in Social Media-CRM Strategy and Go-to-Market programs for communication companies. His clients include, among others, Sprint, BellSouth/AT&T, IBM, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Verizon Business, Genesys Contact Center Software Company, Alcatel Lucent, The Home Depot, The Washington Post, Telstra Telecommunications (Melbourne, Australia), and Chunghwa Telephone (Taipei, Taiwan, China).<br />He is sought out by businesses and professional associations for his knowledge in contact center planning, social media strategy, outsourcing companies, contact center software developers, and value added resellers. <br />Trent’s thought leadership in contact center strategy and knowledge of CRM in the health care industry has won the esteemed Aberdeen Award. <br />Today he is the founder and President of Contact Center Transformation Group, Inc. ( ), a consulting firm specializing in contact center operations and social media optimization for customer care. Trent serves as an adviser to Outsourcing Institute and leads the “Call / Contact Center Special Interest Group” as the Chairperson. <br />