When outsourcing to a call centre you should make all the terms and conditions very clear from the outset such as the calling hours, monitoring and recording of calls, call scripts, expectations, etc. A Service Level Agreement (SLA) or contract should state everything in writing and be signed by both parties. When new campaigns begin, they might also warrant an addendum or new contract. After a campaign, statistics must be produced. A report will generally include the following: number of calls made, answered, connected, abandoned and successful (live conversation took place). Keep a close eye on the Cost Per Order (CPO), which will show you the cost you are incurring through the call center services.
To calculate the CPO, use this handy formula:
(Sales Per Hour times Average Value of Sale) minus (Average Hourly Rate divided by Contact per Hour) equals Average Cost Per Order
Rules and restrictions vary according to whether or not your company is calling consumers or businesses, yet some rules apply to both markets. For example, you cannot create call lists through random dialling or sequential number dialling and you must adhere to Do Not Call lists. In the Business to Consumer market, you cannot knowingly call minors, nor can you call people at work unless they have given you permission to do so.
There are many other guidelines a call centre or telemarketing company must adhere to. The following is a short selection:
- Callers must state the name of the company they are calling on behalf of and the purpose of their call from the very beginning
- Callers must provide your company contact information if asked
- People working in an outsourced, third-party contact centre must reveal their address and telephone number if asked
Not only should you monitor calls to regulate quality control, you should also record them and save them in an organized fashion. Call recordings are useful for training purposes and protection against fraud.
The Customer Operations Performance Center (COPC) in America is one of the few organizations that offers call center Six Sigma training and certification. It stands by proven methods like DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control). Additionally, the Institute of Customer Service, based in the UK, awards membership to over 8000 individuals and nearly 400 organisations who are committed to world-class customer service. During your selection process, if you are considering a call centre in the UK, be sure ask them if they are a member. If so, then it's likely that they strive for excellence in customer care and are aware of industry news, trends, legislation, etc.
Another organisation that upholds these beliefs and practices, awards a mark of standardisation and shares news and information with people in the industry is the UK-based Call Centre Association, also known as the Customer Contact Association (CCA). They are hosting a Customer Contact Convention in Scotland this November, which will include attendees from their network of over 800 corporations.