Call Center Outsourcing: Everything You Need to Know as a Small Business Owner
Call centers exist to help businesses assist their customers. Their capacity is huge, but can they meet the frenetic needs of a high-growth startup at a lower cost point? Or provide pre-sales support at that one critical moment? Not necessarily.
All successful businesses - regardless of size - have to make decisions about customer service support. As business owners weigh the pros and cons of outsourcing customer service, they’ll inevitably bump into the biggest guy in the room: the call center. While it’s a tried and true solution for large corporations, smaller businesses and startups should tread carefully when considering the call center.
Here are a few reasons why call centers aren’t a good fit for small businesses:
Contracts bigger than your company.
Like many traditional outsourcers, call centers require an extensive contract. Sounds about right for rock steady corporations with solid projections and a crack legal department, but seems ridiculous for small businesses that have no idea what the next six months will bring. Small or new companies need flexibility to survive, so steer clear of binding contracts.
It can take weeks to get started with a call center.
Call center expert Jon Malinowski says that the typical lead time from inquiry to “go-live” can be as long as 35 weeks. The process includes contract negotiation, system connectivity, hiring and recruiting, training, and ramping to performance levels. For companies growing at a rapid pace, this timeline is out of the question.
Hidden costs of call centers.
Yes, call centers are a cost-efficient choice for many successful companies. However, it’s important to look at some of the hidden costs that could make a big dent in a small business:
- Utilization: The percentage of time a call center agent is occupied with billable work (as opposed to the time doing human things - breaks, trainings, vacations). Call center outsourcers will generally increase the utilization of customer service to make its margins. A smaller business will achieve a utilization of about 40-50% at best.
- Overhead: Call center outsourcers are able to stretch the overhead across more reps just because they handle more clients. It’s the basic rule of economies of scale.
- Implementation: As mentioned before, getting up and running with a call center can take weeks. That’s time and money wasted.
Call centers may be offshore.
It’s no secret that many call centers operate outside of the United States.The pitfalls of offshoring for a small business include:
- Potential impact to response and resolution time, especially if the operation is in a different time zone. For a small business, customer experience is everything.
- Increased risk of quality issues and turnaround time.
- Triggers customer frustration with language gabs and accent variations. A frustrated customer is not good for a small business.
Call centers don't always offer pre-sales support.
Pre-sales support helps with finding, winning and keeping customers - a small business’s top priority. Call centers are not nimble enough to strategically navigate customer needs. Therefore, the potential to convert customer conversations into profitable insight gets lost in the call center.
Simplr: The call center alternative.
Where enterprise-level solutions are costly and restrictive, Simplr can provide world-class, US-based customer support tailored specifically to the needs (and budgets) of high growth startups. Find out more about our customer service outsourcing solutions.