What’s the Difference Between a Corporate Call Center and an Outsource Call Center?

Not all call centers are the same. Just as an inbound call center differs from an outbound call center in both form and function, so does a corporate call center have different characteristics from an outsource call center. Consider the following: Scope: A corporate call center handles only the calls and contacts for its own company. An outsource call center handles the calls and contacts for many companies. An outsource call center is a service provider; they exist solely to help other companies handle their communication needs. That’s why they’re in business. These differences between a corporate call center and an outsource call center not only result in a bigger scale, they also require a much greater scope, with vastly increased expectations and operational requirements. Training: Outsource call center agents require much more training, as well as increased ongoing training. While a corporate call center agent must master the products and procedures for one company, an outsource call center agent must master the products and procedures for many companies, which often don’t align. One simple example is one outsource call center client that offers free two-day shipping on orders over $50, while another client offers free next-day shipping on orders over $100. Multiply this by hundreds of variations for multiple companies, and the need for comprehensive training becomes apparent. As a result the education team at an outsource call center plays a much larger role in the call center’s success. Complexity: Consider all the software, processes, and techniques that agents must master for one business at a corporate call center. Now multiply that many times over for the outsource call center agent. The possibilities seem endless: process an order, answer an email, handle a customer service call, open a text chat session, take a message, set an appointment, verify inventory, track social media, mail literature, check on a shipment, preform first level help desk services, handle credit card information, comply with various regulations in different industries, such as medical, financial, housing, or legal, and much more. Being an outsource call center agent is multifaceted and highly complex. Variety: Agents at outsource call centers need to handle multiple types of different calls back to back, versus a corporate call center agent who often handles the same call type over and over. Outsource call center agents may go from taking an order for one client, to setting an appointment for a second client, to processing a return for a third client, to giving out information for a fourth client, to taking a message for a fifth client, to handling a life-and-death emergency call for a sixth client, to playing a key role in a six digit financial transaction for a seventh client. Outsource call center agents view these variations as exciting, while many corporate call center agents would tremble over the unknown of what the next call might bring. Staffing: As a result of the larger scope, increased training requirements, greater complexity of calls, and vast variety of situations faced by outsource call center agents, outsource call centers must hire a higher caliber agent with greater skills and more education. As a result agent screening and hiring practices are even more critical for the outsource call center. These are some of the key differences between a corporate call center and an outsource call center. While it may seem a smart business move for a corporate call center to tap excess capacity and move into the outsource market, it is a move with wide-raging ramifications that can’t be ignored. To pursue such a move, hire a manager or consultant with outsource call center experience. This should be your first step in order to achieve a successful outcome.   Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider and consultancy that provides custom training solutions for all levels of staff in the call center and telephone answering service industry. Contact Janet at contactus@callcenter-salespro.com or 800-901-7706 to learn more about arranging specific training for your organization.Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.