When Not to Change Call Centers: A Broker Can Tell

Whenever expectations fall short with a vendor, any vendor, the first reaction is to find a new one. Though this may offer short-term gratification, changing vendors may not achieve the results we hope for. We all know of business executives who churn through every possible vendor until they have tried and subsequently fired everyone. Then they must face the embarrassment of rehiring a vendor they’ve already rejected. From a distance we suspect that the vendors are not really the problem. The one commonality is the organization that hired them; perhaps they’re the source of discontent. Yet when in the middle of the turmoil this is more difficult to see, and the easy conclusion assumes the vendor is at fault. The same is true when switching call centers or telephone answering services. As the proverb goes, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” When we’re too close to the situation, we need outside assistance. But who will offer an unbiased opinion? A call center broker. Why can we depend on a call center broker to offer impartial feedback? Quite simply because if they don’t, it falls back on them with a damaged reputation and more work required to clean up the problem. A professional call center or answering service broker will look at you and your current vendor to provide a realistic assessment of the current situation. They may uncover one of the following conditions, in which case you shouldn’t change vendors: Unrealistic Expectations: Sometimes businesses have unreasonable goals that no call center can reach. One example is the executive who demanded that every call be answered by a person on the first ring, callers would never be placed on hold, and there would be no busy signals. This is an impossible expectation to meet, yet the executive was intent on looking until he found a call center to meet his demands. Instead, his perspective needed realignment. A more reasonable goal would be to ask that 80 percent of the calls be answered within twenty seconds (about three rings). Now find a call center to meet this requirement. Maybe your current one already does. Internal Problems: Sometimes the answering service is wrongly accused of problems within the company that are not the call center’s fault. This can stem from departmental infighting, lackadaisical employees, or manager power struggles. Often it’s an attempt to shift blame. Until these issues are fixed—or at least recognized—there is no chance for call center success. Budget Constraints: If you always go with the low-cost provider, you will always get what you pay for. Quality costs. Don’t insist on price concessions and then demand premium service. While there isn’t always a correlation between price and quality, be assured that you will never experience the highest quality work at the lowest cost. Weak Processes: A misalignment of intents or lack of communication between the company and the call center results in disappointment. One simple example is if you want your answering service to take a message on every call but your answering service thinks they’re supposed to transfer every call. Another one is launching a new marketing campaign but not informing your call center who will handle the influx of calls. Or perhaps you’ve changed prices or policies but forgot to tell your call center. A call center broker can identify if one of these maladies affects your organization. (And don’t feel bad if it does, because these issues are all too common.) Most brokers can even help you correct these matters. Then your broker can tell if you need to switch call centers.   Janet Livingston is the president ofCall Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center and telephone answering service industry—and who provides a call center matchmaking service, covering both onshore and offshore call centers and answering services. Contact Janet at contactus@callcenter-salespro.com or call 800-901-7706. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.