Optimizing Pandemic Contact Center Outsourcing Relationships

As a result of the changes since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, brand leaders are rapidly addressing their outsourcing partnerships in 2021 with enhanced work-from-home (WFH) and drastic competitive sourcing strategies. These changes were highlighted during the Optimizing Pandemic Contact Center Outsourcing Relationships pre-event workshop that COPC Inc. hosted as part of this fall’s Execs In The Know’s Customer Response Summit. During the interactive workshop, customer experience (CX) leaders from over 40 top brands collaborated on how their organizations are reevaluating and redesigning their outsourcing strategies this year and next.

These updated contracts reflect the insights and best practices that emerged since the start of the pandemic. As part of the workshop, we had an in-depth discussion about three common emerging outsourcing priorities COPC Inc. has seen our client’s experience. These are:

  1. Formalizing work-from-home (WFH) requirements and management.
  2. Introducing and optimizing digital transactions.
  3. Leveraging competitive sourcing to revise footprint and address poor performing partners.

Earlier this year we saw almost two-thirds of the brands stating that they don’t intend to return to pre-pandemic site-based operations.  With more and more global organizations continuing a hybrid WFH model, it’s essential to support remote work environments when optimizing outsourcing contracts.

Along with the increase in remote work, we continue to see an uptick in organizations transitioning their digital transactions to outsource partners. This channel has become one of the fastest-growing customer service channel offerings. This significant shift to non-voice interactions presents an excellent opportunity to improve agent training and update chat-specific KPIs. If agents undergo the proper training, they will help resolve customers’ inquiries more efficiently and effectively. Plus, they can potentially convert and retain their organization’s customers if they have a positive experience. When organizations understand which metrics should be measured, they can maximize ROI on this digital touchpoint and use KPIs to adjust staffing models to optimize chat performance.

Finally, brand leaders have increased the rate of competitive sourcing activities in the market to create a high-performing outsourced operation and develop healthier partnerships with outsourcing partners, essential for 2022 and beyond. Best practices of a competitive sourcing process include:

  • Learning the advantages of selecting the right pricing models.
  • Designing the appropriate business requirements.
  • Running a robust supplier evaluation and selection process.

As your organization reimagines its outsourcing contracts, it’s crucial to support remote WFH models, chat transactions and leverage competitive sourcing processes. Incorporating these three emerging outsourcing priorities will allow your organization to achieve new program performance and ROI levels while building stronger relationships with supplier partners.

Read about these three emerging outsourcing priorities in the blog post written in conjunction with our Optimizing Pandemic Contact Center Outsourcing Relationships workshop.

WFH Insights

In this workshop, we learned that almost 2/3rds of attendees have over 25 percent of their contact center seats outsourced, while over 80 percent outsource to more than one provider.

All participants’ outsourced call centers shifted to an immediate WFH model once the pandemic shutdown began in March 2020. COPC Inc.’s clients encountered similar difficulties, including:

  • Internet connectivity issues.
  • Necessary data security updates in technology and WFH office requirements.
  • Unique, regional-based government and environmental challenges specific to the outsourced contact center’s location.
  • Virtual hiring, training, onboarding and employee experience obstacles.

Like other organizations, they acted quickly to combat these challenges head-on and provide solutions to ensure outsourced staff could do their jobs safely, effectively and efficiently while maintaining the same level of service and security as they would in an office environment.

Digital Transaction Insights

With chat being one of the fast-growing customer service channels, more than half of workshop attendees’ organizations have more than 10 agents working on digital/chat transactions.

Despite the low number of chat-dedicated agents, many organizations use a blended model. This model consists of agents handling both chat and email customer interactions but not phone calls. When hiring chat agents, different criteria take priority, such as language proficiency and multitasking abilities, as these agents work multiple chats and customer emails simultaneously.

Organizations are also prioritizing journey mapping when evaluating their customer touchpoints. By assessing their customers’ service journeys, customer care teams consider which matters should be addressed via chat versus which ones should go through other customer care channels. Again, it’s crucial to consider why the customer is reaching out and the best channel to communicate with them.

Competitive Sourcing Insights

The outsourcing contact center market is becoming more competitive. The WFH shift has presented a change in delivery requirements and a reduction in cost components, leading to significant cost savings for vendor managers. To win new contracts and maintain current clients, outsourced service providers must offer strategic pricing and comparable services to contend with the competition.

Sixty-three percent of workshop attendees have recently, or are planning an RFP in the near future while

75 percent of the companies are doing RFPs because of poor performing suppliers or need to revise the footprint.

COPC Inc.’s top sourcing priorities are:

  1. Revising outsourcing requirements and contracts at lightning speed while reevaluating supplier capabilities and footprint that best serves this new normal. ​
  2. Realizing the new cost structure and the impact on previous pricing components. ​​
  3. Optimizing virtual evaluations, management and supplier business planning.

We discuss these topics more in-depth in the white paper, The 2021 State of Contact Center Vendor Management. You can also read this blog post, which provides a concise yet thorough explanation of these three priorities.

Did you know COPC Inc. offers strategic sourcing for CX operations? Achieve the best performance from your vendors at the best price through our strategic sourcing program.  COPC Inc. has been helping clients navigate this transition successfully since the onset of the pandemic to drive consistency across the organization, improve customer service and quality, and decrease business costs. Learn more about COPC Inc.’s vendor management services for CX operations here.

To learn more or how COPC Inc. can assist your organization or share further resources to assist you in your outsourcing endeavors, reach out to info@copc.com.

COPC Inc. is an innovative global leader that empowers organizations to optimize operations to deliver a superior customer experience across all channels. Contact us at: info@copc.com |1-407-304-9032 www.copc.com

Guest post written by: Jay Wolcott, COPC, and originally written on November 5, 2021. To learn more about this and other critical CX topics, register for Execs In The Know’s recent Customer Response Summit and access all the content on-demand by registering.