Making the most of offshore call center solutions will improve your customer service, increase the services that you offer, and reduce your overheads and costs. If you use offshore solutions well, it can boost your business and generate more profit for you and your partners.
Using offshore call center operations is a great way to improve services at an affordable rate. There are several offshore locations supporting the call center industry around the world, using the best call center technology and training processes, so they can offer you the best customer experience and support your business processes.
If you are considering working with offshore call center teams it is best to think carefully, to plan, and to choose your partner so you are working with the best. If you get a good partner your business will boom. If you choose a bad partner, it will be a costly mistake that could affect your business for years to come.
If you choose a bad offshore call center partner, your customers will suffer a bad experience, you will not gain from the best technologies, and you will not have good staff supporting your business. There are ways to choose the best offshore call center provider, there are analysis tools to use to ensure that you are using the best phone solutions and CRM systems, and there are tips that you can use to make sure that you are only talking to the best service providers for your clients.
If you are considering offshore call center providers, continue reading and we will provide you with some useful information to add to your analysis.
What is an offshore call center?
An offshore call center is a service provider offering call center services from a different country, often a long way from your head offices. The offshore call center offers customer service, sales, or support services 24hrs a day, 7 days a week, from a country different to your own. The outsourcing offshore call center hubs in the world are India, The Philippines, South Africa, and there is a growing number of offshore call center support companies in South America too.
Due to the location of your offshore call center partner, it is common practice to pay much less than onshore staff. The salaries paid are still good salaries, but they take into account the local cost of living to make sure that they attract the best staff, at cost effective rates.
The most common offshore call center locations of South Africa and the Philippines focus on voice communications. India, Eastern Europe, and China focus on IT Development and integrating support solutions into operations. Countries in south America offer great customer support with the added benefit of being able to speak Spanish, Portuguese and other languages necessary to support your customers.
Using offshore call center solutions is different to providing onshore or near shore solutions, based purely on geography. The solutions are the same, just the location, and distance to the head office differ.
Onshore call centers differ to near shore and offshore call center solutions due to the time zone differences, and the levels of familiarity with local cultures and customs. If you are using an onshore company, they are likely to know your customers better than if you are using a business in a country far away, but the costs are going to be much higher.
Onshore. Offshore. Near Shore. Which is best?
There are several benefits to offshore call center services, but the first is the cost.
The main attraction of going offshore or nearshore is the cost. There is also travel and holiday opportunities, but for business, it comes down to cost. Many western countries have a minimum wage that must be adhered to. This could be $10 an hour. If you compare this to the Philippines that has a minimum wage of $10 a day, you can automatically see cost cutting opportunities.
If you are looking to hire staff onshore, but they want $2000 a month, or more, you could get several staff in the Philippines, or India for the cost of one staff onshore. Using offshore call center is cost effective, and you are still paying generous salaries based on the cost of living in the other country.
Providing benefits like health care, community engagement, training, and bonuses, keeps costs down, but also shows that you care about their families, and friends, and you are giving back to the local community.
Where there is a global cost of living crisis, and businesses are recovering from the pandemic of 2019 to 2022, money is tight, and budgets are important. The cost of offshore call center is enticing and appealing to businesses on a budget.
In the UK and USA there are several customers who speak different languages, so using an offshore call center with specialists that speak different languages fluently means that you are providing better customer support to your non-English speaking customers.
In the UK there is a large Indian population, so using an Indian offshore call center means that they can communicate better with your product and engage with your services.
Most offshore call center locations have English as a second language and the level of English proficiency is assessed on the Global index. With a combination of English, native language, and other language skills, your business can target different markets and more customers, and grow faster into new communities.
If you are saving more, you can offer more. If you are getting 3 staff for the price of one, that means that for the same price, you could run 24hr operations. You could offer IT services, web design, and other such services because you are saving money on staff, which could be used for other services and offshore call center solutions.
Using the skills of the offshore call center staff, you can boost your social media marketing, offer email, SMS, and other forms of communication, and you can increase the services that you offer, thereby making more profit and diversifying your business.
Using offshore call center solutions for busy times means that you have temporary staff on hand to support you when you are busy, and they are supporting back-office services when you are less busy.
Saving money on staffing gives you more money for technology. Using partners who specialize in customer service and who constantly review and assess new technologies that impact their sector means that you have the best new knowledge in technology that could improve your business. You have a team to help your business grow.
Partnering with offshore call center businesses means that they house, use, and develop the new technology for you. You pay for it, with the savings that you make on staff, and they manage it for you, building your business and improving your services. You can future proof your business and expand at the same time, because you are working with offshore call center specialists.
If you want to compete against rivals, the money you save, the better your technology, and the cheaper your operating costs, and the longer your operational hours, the more that you can compete. Your rivals will not know what hit them!
Although price is a driving factor in deciding to use offshore call center services, there is a global standard of care to consider. People you do business with do not want to be associated with companies that abuse human rights, or break labour laws, by underpaying staff, or by using child labour.
There are common concerns about companies who take advantage of people, or who abuse their position by underpaying, or not supporting their staff. When choosing an offshore call center, you must consider the way that they treat their staff, and how long their managers have worked for the company. The reputation of the offshore call center could impact on your own business reputation.
You must use an offshore call center that can speak your language. The last thing that you want is complaints and poor service. Making sure that your teams speak the language of your customers fluently and clearly is the key factor to success. Testing the language before starting with them is normal practice and it is possible to speak to agents, listen to calls, and to be involved with the training and on-boarding processes.
If a customer calls the customer service line, they expect good customer service, if they get through to an offshore call center who can not speak the language or who can not understand their needs, this will lead to complaints and bad service.
Training and support should be considered throughout the engagement with your offshore call center of choice. Choosing a phone solution for your offshore call center means that you have constant access to the call recordings and the training and compliance elements that mean you maintain control.
Maintaining control over data and services keeps you aware of the performance of your offshore call center and helps them to improve their services too.
The culture of people in the UK or USA is different to those in India or the Philippines, and mutual respect and cultural consideration is vital for success. This can mean that we sometimes say things differently, or in a different tone of voice, we need to be aware of the way that other people hear us and the way that we come across.
Cultural differences from your offshore call center need to be included in training. It is common in the Philippines to call someone Sir or Ma’am whereas it is not common in other countries. Being aware of speech patterns and words will help training and help to bridge cultural gaps.
Your brand must be protected, and if you have an informal brand, you do not want your offshore call center to be too formal. Your communication and messages must be consistent and compliant so you must work with your offshore call center partner to make sure they understand your needs and expectations.
Scripts and compliance training with regular calibration coaching will improve your communication and that of your offshore call center partners.
If you want to use the best resources, pay a bit extra and get the training in place to support the best technology and resources for your company. If you use a cheap offshore call center that does not have the capabilities of incorporating and integrating the best resources into their operations, you will struggle to be the best.
The internet is slower in some countries, and computers are older, knowledge is different, and skills must be accounted for. These are all resource-based considerations for your offshore call center of choice.
If your offshore call center is using VoIP technology on the same ISP as your data services, you might get more latency and more downtime, so you must have technicians to support operations. Remember that you are saving money, but you do not want to compromise on quality.
Your offshore call center should have multiple sites, and resources for disaster recovery. This could mean extra ISPs, or more phone lines, and more providers to support them. Your offshore call center needs to clearly communicate their operational hours and must be on top of modern technology, automations, cloud services, and the best call center solutions so they can meet your high expectations and support your VIP Customers first.
If you are getting bad quality support, giving your customers bad quality service, and using bad quality equipment, your relationship with your offshore call center will fail. There must be a good balance between quality and cost, with a focus on the best quality available for the price that you are paying.
Your offshore call center must know the quality of service that you expect, and this includes language, technology, awareness of brand, and customer support. Setting standards early on with targets and deliverable expectations is important to building the foundations of a relationship with your offshore call center provider.
Who have your offshore call center worked with before? What is their area of expertise? Knowing that will help you to understand if they can service your clients and will be a reference of their services that you might use to make sure they are the best offshore call center for you to engage with. There are a lot of offshore call center providers, so you can choose the best one for your brand.
If your brand is consumer, make sure that your offshore call center works in the B2C space. If you are working in the business sector, then you need an offshore call center provider with more B2B experience.
Gathering due diligence and background info on your offshore call center will help you to hav strong foundations.
Monitor and Train
Remember, it is a partnership between you and your offshore call center. You must provide support and coaching; you must be involved in monitoring and guide your offshore call center so that expectations are managed, and service levels are achieved.
This includes log in and log off times, numbers of calls a day, and KPI performance reviews to make sure that you are paying someone for the work, and they are doing the work that you are paying for. Setting up solid monitoring with your offshore call center builds trust.
It is acceptable to monitor internet usage, sites visited, break schedules and time working, so you are maximizing operational time and getting the service that you have contracted to receive from your offshore call center.
Using offshore call center solutions has many benefits, but it is partnership that involves you doing some work, as well as supporting your chosen offshore call center partner in their operations and processes. The better that you can support them, the more that they will support you.
Knowing what works, what does not work, and how to improve all aspects of your operations in partnership with your offshore call center will improve your overseas calling, and the customer service that your offshore call center partner will provide.