Startups and small businesses are normally run by a few people. Some even by solo entrepreneurs or what we call, “solopreneurs,” and it’s okay when a business is starting. But as it continues to grow, with customers expanding from the small hometown to different regions and the whole country, the resources and manpower as well. Now, they need someone to handle the products or manage the manpower. They need someone to handle the schedules of deliveries. Someone should handle website development. Someone should handle permits and other legal documents.
Most importantly, someone should take care of customer support. After all, customers are critical factors in determining the success of a business. The lower customer satisfaction is, the bigger the chance a business will fail. Call centers can help with building a customer support team. However, setting up an in-house call center can be costly, since they require a lot of space, high-performance equipment, and manpower to operate. Because of this, businesses decide to outsource their call center operations.
When someone hears about call center or business process outsourcing companies in general, some are still reluctant since they think it’s costly and only established enterprises can afford it. Well, the good thing is call centers now cater to small businesses and startups with their low-cost, high-quality operations. These companies also serve different sectors with services varying from inbound, outbound, to blended calls.
Pros and Cons of Call Center Outsourcing
Outsourcing a call center operation has a huge impact on business, not just in the customer-aspect but in the opportunity aspect as well.
- Access to a larger talent pool. Businesses have access to a wide range of both local and international talents that can deliver great performance for their call center team.
- Lower labor costs. Outsourcing a call center overseas helps a business save big on labor costs compared to hiring in-house teams. Two of the top countries to outsource at cheap costs are located in Asia, particularly the Philippines and India.
- Better technology. Most of these companies have access to state-of-the-art technology which they use in their operations to give their clients high performance.
- Increase in business continuity. Many overseas call centers offer 24/7 support for their clients, so businesses can guarantee business continuity to their customers while they focus on other things.
- More focus on growth. Businesses that outsource their call center operations have more focus on planning and marking strategies for the growth of their business.
However, businesses should also take note of the risks that come along with outsourcing their operations and the different ways of turning these into their advantages.
- Confidentiality and security. Call center operations are still at risk in terms of confidentiality and sensitivity of information gathered by the agents.
- Lack of control. Since the overall operation is managed by a third party company, call quality may still be sacrificed and may not meet the business’s desired performance.
- Language and accent barriers. Language is still an issue when it comes to overseas call centers, since the customer and the agent handling the call may have a difficulty understanding each other.
- Cultural barriers. Agents in a call center team have minimal knowledge of the culture of the business they’re catering to, making them feel detached from their clients.
Price Structure of Call Centers
Since small businesses and startups work on a budget, businesses usually consider the price structure when hiring a call center.
Call center costs vary depending on the expertise, call duration, and location of the company. The cheapest call center operations are found in Asia and Eastern Europe. Countries in these regions offer low-cost, high-quality operations with a wide range of specializations, mostly in customer and technical support.
Call center operations have different ways of charging their rates, depending on the services their clients availed.
Inbound call centers usually charge per minute or per hour, depending on the structure of the teams.
- Dedicated. Businesses choose this option when they set a predictable volume of calls they receive. Call centers put up a specific team for their clients and charge them on a per-hour basis. Billing of this service is either monthly or part-time.
- Shared inbound. Shared inbound call centers, unlike dedicated staffing, don’t put up a specific team for their clients. Instead, they use “shared services” and usually charge calls per minute. Businesses expecting a low volume of calls avail of this service.
Outbound call centers, meanwhile, have different ways of charging their clients.
- Per-hour basis. Call centers charge calls per hour on lead generation, outbound sales, and appointment setting. Charges may vary depending on each country.
- Commission-based. This is ideal for seasonal accounts and other sales and lead generation applications. Businesses are charged a full commission once call centers reach an average amount of earned calls plus the normal hourly rate.
- Per-hour plus commission. This is the most ideal charging both for inbound and outbound. To maximize the performance of call center teams, a commission is charged on top of the usual hourly charge.