Customer Service Outsourcing

Evaluating Customer Service Outsourcing Partners

A good customer service outsourcing partnership includes a fair but reliable method for evaluating the partnership. Here are a few things to consider when evaluating customer service outsourcing partners.

Outsourced customer service involves a lot more than signing an SLA and putting the relationship with your provider on autopilot.

Although you have outsourced your customer service functions, company owners and managers still need to remain very much involved with the ongoing execution of call center activities.

Monitoring outsourced customer service performance is vital for both the health of your partner relationship and (more importantly) the level of service you receive for your investment. The issue is knowing how to properly evaluate your outsourcing partner and work with them to address problems or performance issues.

Your Service Level Agreement (SLA) will clearly define the process for evaluating and adjusting your partner relationship. To be effective, it has to include quantifiable metrics rather than subjective value statements about performance and outcomes. Although evaluating your customer service outsourcing partner can be a challenge, it's well worth the effort.

  • Reporting. Much of the information you receive about your outsourcing partner's effectiveness will come from reporting mechanisms. Frequency of reporting is important, but don't neglect the value of making sure the reports include the content you need to make an informed evaluation.
  • Level of dialogue. The relationship between your company and your customer service outsourcing partner is much different than the relationship you have with your paper vendor. Constant dialogue is a necessity as well as a gauge of the health of the partnership. When dialogue is missing, your call center activities are in big trouble.
  • Execute the adjustment process. Your SLA should describe a process for making adjustments to the system and your partner relationship. Don't be afraid to activate the adjustment process at the first sign of problems.
  • Penalize underperformance. Your SLA should also describe underperformance penalties. Even though you value your relationship, when you ignore sanctions you remove the motivation for the provider to improve performance.
  • Conduct scheduled reviews. Establish a scheduled review process that evaluates metrics and the effectiveness of the relationship in general - and then stick to it religiously.

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