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In-House Versus Outsourced Call Centers

Post-sale customer engagement has become an increasingly important part of business. To survive in this competitive market, it is just as crucial to retain customers as it is to acquire new ones. The call center acts as a business enabler in the process, and every interaction that an agent has with a customer has an impact on the overall customer experience and brand perception.

That’s why deciding whether to keep your call center in-house, or outsource is such an important decision. Some (of the many) factors to consider:

i.     Setup Cost
ii.    Size of the organization
iii.   Hiring & Training Expenses
v.    Level of Customer Engagement

Outsourced Call Centers

When an organization contracts out their product support/customer service to a third party, it is termed as an outsourced call center. Oftentimes organizations will outsource their support in order to save money. In certain cases, an organization can save as much as 50% in operating costs by outsourcing their contact center operations to an outside organization. Some of the advantages of this setup are:

  • Cost & Time savings in hiring and training of staff
  • No need to invest in high end infrastructure and technology
  • Well trained workforce to handle customers

The downside of using this setup is that of risking your brand integrity. A third party workforce can seldom match the expectations in communicating your brand, because they don’t understand, and live and breathe your organization’s mission and values in the same way as someone on the inside. Also, there can be gaps and challenges in passing along new technical and product information. In short, the personal touch may not always be present when customer service is outsourced.

For those reasons, outsourcing call centers to a third party requires proper scrutiny and attention. A few things to pay close attention to and consider when selecting an outsourcer:

(a) Years of experience
(b) Quality of workforce
(c) Billing procedure
(d) Clients handled

In-House Call Center

Several global companies like Manila Electric Co., Bank of the Philippine Islands, 3Pea International have recently moved away from outsourced centers and brought their contact centers within the organization. The main underlying reason: the customer.

Studies show that the call center experience affects customer loyalty, so many organizations have opted to keep their call centers in-house. The main advantages for this setup are:

(a) Proper communication of brand
(b) Vital insights from the customer conversations
(c) Integration of call centre with organisation’s resources

Keep in mind, to have these advantages on your side and reap the benefits you must invest the proper money and time in setup, technology, hiring and training of workforce.

Ultimately, the choice of going in-house versus outsourced (or vice-versa) depends on each organization's mission, needs, and stage. And with the growing sophistication of call center technology, and the mobility of today’s workforce, organizations have many options to serve their customers in a better way.  What works for one organization might not work for another.  The key to success is careful thought and planning.