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Ignoring Contract is the Worst Mistake you can Make in Call Center Outsourcing

Many companies outsource customer care and technical support these days, but only a few achieve the success they desire. The fate of call center operation often depends on a number of factors. There are several dynamics that collectively shape the fortunes of inbound and outbound call center outsourcing ventures. After you outsource call center, the control goes to a vendor company and then there is very little you can do after that. Therefore, it is imperative that you focus extensively on the vendor selection process. Even more importantly, you should give due consideration to the contractual agreement.

Call Center Contract and Its Various Aspects

Customer Care Service

A call center contract is a binding document that is signed before a partnership is set in motion. There are many aspects of a call center contract:

  • Description of different services offered by the vendor
  • Agreement about ownership of customer issues
  • The designated time of call center operations
  • Complete description of the call center location, facilities provided to agents, infrastructure etc.
  • Service Level Agreement (SLA)
  • Tools utilized for rendering services to the customers
  • Networking and telecommunication equipment and technology
  • Transfer of training material from the client to the vendor
  • How the training strategy will be executed by the vendor
  • Fees paid to the vendor
  • Payment method, time and other financial information like taxes
  • Terms and agreement with regards to different critical aspects like security
  • Conditions for termination of services
  • Liability, disclaimer and insurances
  • Indemnification and liability
  • Non-disclosure of information
  • Customer record management
  • Authorized representative as a single point of contact

Reading and understanding complex outbound and inbound call center outsourcing contracts can be a mind-numbing exercise for an entrepreneur. Therefore, it is advised that you hire legal help to confirm that everything is in order and there are no loopholes.

Key Aspects of Call Center Contract that a Business Owner Should Focus On

Although there are many aspects in a call center contract, there are certain things that are more important than others. Have a look:

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

SLA is the most important part of a call center outsourcing contract and it should be looked at with great care. Some important elements of an SLA pertain to:

  1. Average Handling Time
  2. First Call Resolution
  3. Max Hold Time
  4. Automated Calls
  5. Escalation Process
  6. Call Abandonment
  7. Average Speed of Answer
  8. Maximum Allowed Hold Time

The SLA can be used to create a minimum and maximum limit for call center metrics that need to be maintained by the agents. The outsourcer (client) can use carrot and stick i.e. reward and punishment to keep a leash on the vendor. For example, if the AHT limit is breached, then the vendor needs to pay a pre-estimated sum of money to the client. And, if the vendor performs exceptionally well in lowering the AHT, then he can be rewarded with financial incentives.

Clarification of Payment Criteria, Schedule and Method

Primarily, a call center outsourcing payment can be based upon two parameters: Time or Number of Calls. The client can pay on the basis of time spent on calls by all agents. Or, he can pay on the basis of number of calls handled. However, setting the criteria for payment is not as easy as it seems. You have to take into account all the possible scenarios before deciding on a particular payment structure.

In the case of time-based payments, if the vendor is exceeding prescribed time limit on calls so as to increase the revenue, you need to have a ‘penalty’ in place to deter him from doing that. For example, you can set a minimum daily AHT as part of the SLA. The same way, in case of call-based payments, if the vendor is hurrying through the calls and jeopardizing the customer experience, you need to have a ‘penalty’ in place to stop him from doing that. For example, you can make FCR an important criterion and if the calls are not resolved in the first attempt, you can penalize the vendor accordingly.

Another thing that you need to mention clearly in the contract is the time interval after which you would make the payment. Also, you need to specify the method of payment – cash, check, account transfer etc.

Security Aspect and Liability

The security aspect is very important in call center outsourcing. Many companies don’t outsource because they always remain circumspect about security. However, security can be bolstered by making it a constant fixture in the contract. You can mention the penalties if the security is compromised in any way, shape or form. Another advantage of outsourcing is that you are no longer liable for the security, as all the responsibility rests with the outsourcing vendor.

A good contract can eliminate the struggle of your outsourcing campaign. Everything can be mentioned in a clear and concise way, so that vendor knows exactly what is expected from him…

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