A call center broker can locate an outsource call center to handle your calls. A professional broker’s job is to find a call center vendor who will meet your specific needs, reduce your time to launch, and verify billing. But selecting the right call center vendor is key. If this is the first time you’re outsourcing a call center project, a little forethought and planning will help make the process go smoother and the outcome, a success. Consider the following questions and communicate your answers to your call center broker: What Are Your Goals? Though your expectations for a marketing campaign or call center outsourcing project may seem obvious, it’s critical to define them. Otherwise your broker and the call center they recommend are left to guess what’s important to you. And they may assume wrong. Also document these goals. Otherwise, your call center could end up chasing ever-changing objectives. Common call center financial goals may relate to the number of sales, number of leads, dollar volume of orders, return on investment (ROI), or cost savings. Performance objectives might relate to speed to answer, hold time, first call resolution, contacts per hour, or customer survey results. In determining the goals for your call center, don’t saddle them with too many objectives or mutually exclusive expectations, such as high quality and low cost. Select three to five key goals and determine which one of them is most critical. How Will You Measure Success? Identify which metrics you will track to determine the effectiveness of your call center outsourcing partner. If you focus on cost per sale and your call center looks at sales per hour, it could be that one of you will be pleased with the results and the other one will not. Once the key success metric is determined, state how this will be measured. For example, if the success metric is calls per hour, is this per agent hour scheduled or agent hour online? The distinction is critical. Also important is to define what constitutes a sale. Is it signed paperwork, a paid invoice, or something else? What Is Your Traffic Projection? If you seek to outsource an existing campaign, provide historical data. If this is a new project, provide your best estimate of the anticipated workload. This is key, because agent scheduling will hinge on these numbers. Over scheduling will result in increased costs, while under scheduling will produce a poor service level and result in unhappy customers or prospects. How Will You Drive Traffic? If a media campaign will push traffic or generate leads, detail your plans, especially if you intend to use broadcast media to produce incoming calls. You don’t want a call center planning on an average of ten calls per hour throughout the day, when your TV ad will spike that number to one hundred calls in five minutes. What Is Your Budget? Unless you wish to go with the least-cost provider, be honest about your budget for this project. Otherwise your broker might recommend a premium provider when you can’t afford it or an economy vendor when you expect to pay for high quality. What Is Your Timeframe? The first question of time refers to how soon you want the outsource call center online and handling calls. Know that rush jobs cost more, so plan ahead. The other time consideration is how long the project will last. You can expect better terms if you will sign a long-term agreement. Short duration projects cost more. Armed with your answers to these six questions, along with anything else you deem important, your call center broker can begin to work on your behalf to recommend an outsource call center vendor. The clearer you can answer these questions, the more information you provide to your call center broker and the greater their ability to match you to the ideal call center vendor for your specific needs and expectations. 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—that provides a call center matchmaking service, covering both onshore and offshore call centers and answering services. Contact Janet at email@example.com or call 800-901-7706. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.