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Managing Customer Contact Outsourcers White Paper


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Managing Customer Contact Outsourcers White Paper

  1. 1. Customer Contact Transformation An Accenture Perspective Managing Contact Center Outsourcers It takes more than a contract to ensure that contact center outsourcers deliver the performance gains companies expect
  2. 2. BBaacckkggrroouunndd Organizations with large customer bases supporting high volumes of customer interaction often outsourced their customer contact operations, expecting labor savings and access to specialist expertise. Instead, they often find that these cost and quality benefits never fully materialize. Worse, they may outsource using contracting models (such as per-hour, per-minute or per-call contracts) that do not align their business objectives with their vendor’s objectives. In fact, outsourcing vendors are encouraged by these contracted arrangements to increase the client’s use of their services at the expense of quality and innovation, which standard contracts and service-level agreements (SLAs) do not cover. In some cases, even explicit penalties are not enough to keep vendors from working to maximize profitability in this manner. AAnnaallyyssiiss Executives are often disappointed by their vendor performance because they assumed that outsourcing customer contact would allow them to focus less attention on managing customer care operations. They trust- ed that the outsourcing contract alone would drive performance, and perhaps believed the vendor would not only manage call handling, con- tact center staff management and related “commodity” services, but also areas such as training, call routing, quality monitoring and innovation. In most outsourced relationships, when these customer contact elements are not handled sep- arately from the direct management of the contact center, innovation and process improvement grind to a halt. Worse, companies may find that not separating these elements makes it hard to switch vendors, even when For companies seeking to control operating costs and improve performance, outsourcing customer contact is often desirable and in many cases necessary. However, managing relationships with outsourcing vendors can be challenging. Accenture believes maximizing vendor performance takes investing in a management infrastructure that maintains quality and independence while enabling innovation and driving down costs.
  3. 3. the contract expires. Building or acquiring this separate layer of operational management may seem like unnecessary costs in an outsourced environment, but in our experience it is the foundation for reaping the real benefits of outsourcing contact centers. RReeccoommmmeennddaattiioonnss Separating the operational manage- ment of contact centers from the direct delivery of commoditized contact services allows vendors to concentrate on their areas of expertise while allowing the client to retain control of key infrastructure components, such as • Forecasting • Call management • Training • Quality • Vendor performance management • Reporting and governance • Vendor contracting and invoicing • Transformation and innovation This “command center” model for operations management can be supported in-house or it may even be sourced through a business process outsourcer—regardless of how it is implemented, the important thing is to maintain and manage it separately from the labor contracts. When your organization retains “command” of contact center opera- tions, it also retains its buying power in managing vendors. For example: you now have the option of working with multiple vendors, or running in-house and outsourced operations simultaneously and switching vol- umes between them on the basis of performance. Using a portfolio of multiple vendors allows the creation of a performance-driven free market- place, in which vendor incentives are precisely aligned to the performance metrics which will deliver the best results to your business. Engagement models with contact center vendors should be structured to reintroduce innovation into the outsourcing relationship. By using marketplace techniques to standard- ize and commoditize agent-handled calls—as in a commodity exchange— management can focus on other areas such as customer satisfaction and rewarding contact centers for innovation. This structure motivates vendors and contact centers to out- perform one other in a “free market” for agent-handled calls, with contact center volume automatically delivered to the most capable and cost-effec- tive centers and agents. Again, this sort of structure can be created in- house or sourced from a third party. CCoonncclluussiioonn Achieving the cost and quality benefits of contact center outsourcing requires a creative, balanced contract structure and an operations infra- structure equal to or greater than that required for internal operations. Using this approach, companies not only retain and even increase control over service quality, but also take advantage of natural competition in the vendor marketplace to drive down costs, improve efficiency and re-inject passion and success into contact center performance. AAbboouutt tthhee AAuutthhoorrss Rick Merson is a senior manager in Accenture’s Customer Relationship Management service line where he works with clients on contact center and outsourcing strategy. Helena Ring is a senior manager in Accenture's Customer Contact Services group, responsible for vendor strategy and supply chain management.
  4. 4. Copyright © 2006 Accenture All rights reserved. Accenture, its logo, and High Performance Delivered are trademarks of Accenture.