5 Call Center Staffing Model Examples
Staffing a call center is not a one-size-fits-all solution. While outsourcing all or part of the staffing of your company’s contact center can be a turnkey operation, you need to decide the staffing model best suited for your needs.
When you choose GCS for your call center outsourcing needs, we will take you through the options for call center staffing. There are lots of variables to consider and the stakes can be high. We want the solution to work long-term for you.
We are going to look at several call center staffing models and explain the points of consideration for each one. The most common call center staffing model examples are outsourcing, insourcing, location specific vendors, live agents, and self-help customer service technology.
Outsourcing vs. Running your Own Operation
When you choose to outsource, you are opting to have another company, like GCS, handle everything for you. This makes your life easier and simplifies your operations, but it also comes with some important benefits beyond those factors.
1. Cost-effectiveness: Outsourcing can be less expensive than housing your own call center. Your outsourcing vendor can leverage economies of scale that you won’t be able to access with a call center of your size. There is a lot of support for a large center, HR, technology, communications, workforce management, QA, training, etc. With an outsourcer, you often share those expenses with other clients.
In addition, some payment models involve paying only for the minutes agents are actually working with your customers. In a self-managed operation, you have all the overhead and agents.
2. Improved Productivity: Productivity commonly improves with an outsourced call center. They are call center experts. It is their core offering. Often the contractor is in the center to keep costs down.
When your existing employees have to shoulder additional responsibilities to help you manage an in-house call center, everyone loses. Those employees are less productive, and the call center does not get the benefit of full-time focus.
3. Reduced Risk: Outsourcing vendors know the compliance you need to meet laws, regulations and certification. We can help you meet those standards, reducing regulatory risk.
We also know what works. You benefit from our experience across industries and with different program typed. Programs start faster and run smoother.
4. Better Training: Employee training should be another focus in an outsourced call center. Remember, managing successful customer interactions are what outsourcing vendors do. If there is not a commitment to consistent and frequent training and coaching, look elsewhere.
We know how to select, train and continually coach to deliver your message in a professional, customer experience. We even have our own proprietary soft skills and empathy training program honed over years of training tens of thousands of agents.
5. Enhanced Scalability: Finally, outsourced call centers are infinitely scalable. Most vendors have a bevy of locations and agents at the ready. They can accommodate your needs when you require more people to take your customers’ calls, such as after a market expansion, during a seasonal peak, or before a new product launch. If you had to scale your call center in-house, it would take an investment.
Clearly, outsourcing your call center has its benefits. However, some companies already have a call center or they prefer to handle everything in-house because they want complete control or they have data concerns. If this sounds like you, a company like GCS can provide value in several ways:
BOT (Build - Operate - Transfer)
COCO (Center Management)
As a call center consultant, we have helped other companies reduce cost, improve productivity and provide better customer service. We can assist with a full assessment of your center operations, or help with a troubled area or two.
BOT - We can even help your company build a call center. We provide site selection help, design and layout, technology and connectivity, security and redundancy.
We provide staffing of the center for both agents and managers. We help set up policies and procedures that ensure you reach your performance goals. Once the center is ready, we turn it over to your team.
COCO - Company Owned, Contractor Operated - We come into your existing center and manage it for you. We assume your employees, manage to your performance standards and work closely with your vendor manager and team to continually improve your operations and performance.
In-House options often do cost more than outsourcing to a shared center operator. And the risk is greater – after you build your facility, you might find that your needs soon change or are not what you had anticipated. Eliminate that risk by handing capacity support to a partner like GCS.
Deciding on Ownership
Next, you will need to decide on ownership. This decision determines who is responsible for the call center, its performance, and its people.
In a typical outsourced situation, your call center vendor would own the facility, the agents are their employees, and they manage the performance to meet your service levels.
When you opt for in-house facilities, your company would typically be be responsible for the same.
In some cases, companies choose a hybrid model called Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT).
In this center arrangement, your call center vendor would build your call center for you, either at one of your existing facilities or in a new location of your choosing. They set up the technology, purchase the equipment, and design everything. Next, they hire people to work there, from the management and quality assurance staff to the agents themselves. They train them and provide continual coaching until the facility is fully operational and productive. Then, they pass it over to you to manage.
BOT is ideal for situation like:
Wanting to lower cost by moving to a new location or facility, but lacking knowledge of the location or not having enough internal resources for the project.
Preferring to conserve capital cost early in the project.
Needing to establish a new facility without disrupting current operations.
Employee ownership can also be flexible. Whereas in most outsourcing arrangements, the call center vendor is responsible for the employees and in most in-house situations, your company provides all the necessary oversight, there are hybrid options available. However, it is possible to use an outsourcer to staff some or all of your employees. Typically the existing employees would be assimilated into other areas or your operation. The possibilities for ownership in your call center staffing model are many. Feel free to discuss the pros and cons with the contact center staffing experts at GCS and check out this video discussing our model for staffing management.
Choosing Center Location
Also, take some time to consider center location. Depending on the call center outsourcing vendor you choose, you may have the option of putting your call center:
On-shore / Domestic - in North America (U.S. and Canada)
Off-shore - outside of North and Central America, (such as in Europe, Asia or the Middle East)
Near-shore - a location that is non-domestic but still geographically close, (like Mexico or the Dominican Republic).
While GCS does the majority of our work domestically, there is no universal best area. Each one has benefits and risks. What is important is finding the right shore for YOU to land. By working with a company like GCS, we can help you determine the best location to meet your needs.
Also called “onshore,” this type of call center would be located in the United States or Canada. Typically where the most of your customers are located. Because your customer service agents and your customers live in the same country and possibly the same state or county, it is easier to serve the needs of your customers. Agents have a better understanding of the language as well as the culture, slang, weather, environment, and especially the various accents.
Familiarity with agents goes a long way in building trust and loyalty with your customer base. Training also tends to be easier and more effective. Plus, if you want to travel to the facility for any reason, it is easy to do so. The only downside is that the cost can be higher than other options.
Best for: Customer Service, Tech Support, Complex Support and Customers or Clients desiring U.S. based service.
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Offshore call centers and back office facilities are common too. Companies in the United States have call centers placed in countries like India or the Philippines where labor costs and operating costs are lower, but education and skill level is still high. While this is a cost-effective option, it has some important disadvantages.
1. Language Barriers: It can be difficult for someone from another country to understand common English. Even in nations with a strong understanding of English as a language, overcoming different accents, idioms, and colloquial language usage is difficult. If your customers have difficulty making themselves understood or troubles understanding what the agent says, it could make them want to take their business elsewhere.
2. Call Handling Times: Another issue is that call handling times tend to be longer amongst offshore call centers. This means customers have to wait longer to speak to an agent or you may need a larger agent pool. When they do reach someone, that exchange will take longer. In some cases, First Call Resolution is lower because customers end up having to call more than once to resolve a single issue.
3. Phone Scripts: Because of language barriers, offshore call center agents are usually confined to a script. Agents parrot phrases that may or may not lead to true problem resolution. Complex support can be difficult to pull off.
4. Travel: If you do need to reach the facility, it is going to take time and additional cost for you to get there – possibly a visa. In this way, offshore call centers are more inconvenient.
Best for: Back office operations, text or chat support, simple customer service, internal call centers and multi-language needs. This arrangement also seems to work better for outbound calls than inbound service.
In some cases, a “nearshore” solution may be best. This involves placing a call center geographically close to your main operations but still outside the nation’s borders. In the case of the United States, this would involve having call centers in Mexico, the Caribbean, or Central America. While accents and language can still be an issue, there is often more of a familiarity with the U.S. The cost is normally lower than domestic operations. It is also generally easier to travel to a nearshore facility than an Offshore one.
Best for: Calls that are not very complex, such as marketing or sales; back-office support and non-verbal support, international customer programs. This arrangement also seems to work better for outbound calls than inbound service.
You might also consider a hybrid model that segments tasks based on agent location, so you can realize cost savings where possible. As an added bonus, you may be able to benefit from the number of languages your call centers can support as well.
Let’s discuss your needs and see what fits best. By working with a company like GCS, we can help you determine the best location(s) to meet your needs.
Live Agents and Self-Help Technology
Putting call center operations offshore or nearshore is not the only way to reduce cost in your facility. You also have the option of using live agents, self-service, or a hybrid of the two.
Live agents give your customers a personal touch when they call in. Actual people on the other end of the phones, web chat, email, or other communication channels. Because they are live, as opposed to a recording, they tend to be able to understand customer issues and resolve them rather quickly and with individualized attention. Agents can be trained to be empathetic and represent your brand in all matters. The only downsides are cost and the fact that sometimes your callers don’t want or expect to speak to a person.
Self-service or self-directed service is a growing way to manage some customer interactions. Automated systems can resolve many simple customer issues quickly as long as they do not require the involvement of an agent, like monitoring an account balance or checking a flight arrival time. They can also be configured to provide services when agents cannot. This way, you are able to offer your customer some amount of service anytime, day or night.
Automated systems provide a valuable service with minimal cost while live agents provide the highest level of customer care. Fortunately, there is no need to choose one over the other. You can adopt a hybrid option for your call center and back office operations.
Some channels are direct, regardless of how requests are fulfilled. Think of chat, email and tweets.
For calls and click to calls in a hybrid format, customers pass through an IVR or other automated service to identify their need. Then the call is routed to the live agent or self-service system best suited to fulfill their need. If the automated system can handle it, the customer starts there. Otherwise, the call gets directed to a live agent. It is the best of both worlds, for you and your customers.
Call Center Technology
Finally, consider the technology for your call center. Experienced outsourcing vendors can do more than set up a system that fits your needs – they have the ability to connect your systems to those used by the call center. This way, all customer information is available to the customer service representative and issue resolution is easier. We can also add systems and technologies that will help you better serve your customers in other ways, such as the ability to let agents escalate customer issues they cannot resolve by creating a ticket, adding different communication channels like webchat, and monitoring calls for quality. We can help you make sure that your systems meet security standards such as HIPAA and PCI-DSS as well.
When you outsource your call center, you aren’t just getting a solution to your call center issues – you are getting a partner to help you improve your business and meet strategic objectives. If you have come this far, you probably already have an idea of how you want to define success.
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