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The Changing Face of Outsourcing

Thursday, April 29, 2010    From:  Global Services

It is widely accepted that to deliver high-quality customer contact services, contact centre outsourcers must master several disciplines. They must:

    * Stimulate, respect and develop their people
    * Support them with the best technology
    * Create buildings and environments that are motivational and encourage team-working
    * Build expertise in recruitment, people development, business processes, staff scheduling, business intelligence, etc.

To be successful, outsourcers must provide value to their clients across many of these disciplines - and to be the best, they need to provide expertise across all of them.

The ability to provide expertise across a range of different disciplines will become increasingly important as the contact centre outsourcing market matures.  And what is becoming increasingly evident is that organisations no longer just require their outsource partners to provide 'people on seats' - they need them to add value by increasing sales, improving debt collection, enhancing customer loyalty and meeting a whole range of other financially-related KPIs.  Specialism rather than generalism is the name of the game in contact centre outsourcing today.

Technology Bundles

The implications of this haven't been lost on some of the UK contact centre outsourcers who are now providing 'bundles' of contact centre services to meet the needs of their clients.  These include:

    * People (advisors and management) + expertise + technology
    * People (advisors) + expertise + technology - (with clients providing management expertise)
    * Technology + expertise (with clients providing people and management)
    * People + processes + expertise + technology
    * People + environments + processes + expertise + technology

'Hosted' technology services are perhaps the best example of contact centre unbundling in the market today.
In recent years, UK contact centre outsourcers have invested heavily in IP-based virtual contact centre architectures that enable business applications to be deployed at a single point on their networks but accessed and used by anyone with access to the network and permission to use the applications.  It's a capability that has enabled outsourcers to set up global operations without having to duplicate expensive technology resources at each site and with the ability to centrally manage all operations by logging onto the network at any point.

Virtual Contact Centre Technology

This virtual contact centre technology has not only changed the management of multi-site outsourcing operations – it's also opened the way for outsourcers to provide the same technology resources to other organisations.

This idea of a contact centre outsourcer acting as a technology service provider may be new but the principle of a public network-based service provider delivering technology services to organisations via their IP networks and resources certainly isn't.  It's called 'hosting'.

The advantages of 'hosting' rather than 'buying' technology are numerous.  Renting technology capabilities on a monthly basis from a hosted service provider takes away the need to buy and maintain equipment (as it's operational expenditure as opposed to capital expenditure) and the need to employ specialist in-house staff to manage equipment. The ability to switch services on and off  'on demand' also makes hosting ideal for organisations' short-term project requirements.

It's a concept that has taken off rapidly in the contact centre space with up to 5 per cent of (formal) contact centres in the UK now using hosted contact centre services – which equates to around 260 contact centres and 31,900 advisors.

So what would a portfolio of contact centre technology 'bundles' look like?

Well, it would firstly need to take into account the nature of its audiences - from large organisations (i.e. corporates and central/local government) with existing contact centres to SMEs and large organisations with no existing contact centres.  Services would need to be broken down in a way that separates core capabilities, such as the handling of customer contacts, management reporting, automated call handling (IVR), and call/contact recording that will appeal to everyone – from more advanced 'bundles' such as workforce optimisation and business intelligence and analytics that will mainly appeal to the larger, more sophisticated operators.

The second consideration hits at the heart of what contact centre outsourcers can bring to a market already populated with mature players – and that is experience.  Many of the larger, more experienced contact centre outsourcers not only have the technology set-ups to match those of hosted service providers but they also have the practical operational experience of setting up and running contact centres.

And that's why one can expect outsourcers to focus heavily on consulting and expert support services – from contact centre design to staff recruitment and training.

Source: callcentrehelper

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