Diversify or Perish
Recently I heard of an organization that outsourced their entire customer care program to Bangladesh, India. The company saved millions in salaries and health care options; and threw a huge party when stock prices soared. Everything seemed to be going well until summer flooding and political uproar in the region prevented more than half of their staff from reaching the place of employment. Without a back-up plan in place the company spent hundreds of thousands scrambling to get an onshore location up and running.
Redundancy or risk management has become a second thought and companies are paying for it. System crashes or natural disasters interrupting their primary channel for supporting customers are signs of weakness in their call center strategy that can not be ignored. Lulled into a false sense of security by the reliability of infrastructure in North America many take this as a given when offshoring at their peril.
Like the financial industry diversifying your customer care group can have a positive impact to your organization and prevent the lapses in servicing your customer. A good balance of all options can be done effectively while overall costs remain unchanged.
With so many options for servicing customers organizations are finding it hard to identify the right balance. Outsourcing offshore has become the most popular option for the advantages of reducing and controlling operating costs, but little has been done with giving customer alternative choices if one option is not viable or available for the customer.
(Insert Table 1.1)
The above table shows some of the different options available for organizations when creating a strategy for their call center. The options and choices available will vary based upon the organization: the number of structure of center(s) and the technology and network architecture or topology employed. When selecting a strategy to diversify your contact center there are three things to keep in mind. The first is cost, the amount it will take to implement and maintain your call center operations. The second volume, how many customers are expected to contact your center on a daily, monthly, and annual basis. The third is availability/viability for your customers, do your products and services primarily focus around voice, online, and/or other channels to interact with customers; what percentage of your customers have access to the different channels.
After analyzing those three areas you should now have an outline of your call center’s areas of strength and opportunity. Utilize those areas and go through each channel while keeping them in mind. For each option selected choose also a backup option for redundancy. For example, if you select to outsource offshore than select low costing alternative like a small in-house operation or virtual agent IVR program. This is a good risk management practice to protect your service from any downtime.
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