What is a BPO for a Call Center? When Should I Hire One?
Running a call center is not for the faint of heart. Day in and day out you answer calls from customers asking questions, complaining about issues, and wanting you to solve all of their problems.
Then, as the manager of a call center, you have to hire and train new agents to think about (which is always a revolving door). And it is hard to keep up with. So, you’re considering hiring a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company to handle your call center (or at least a portion of its responsibilities).
But, is that necessary for your company? Maybe you just need to get through this month.
While I’ve never worked in a call center, I’ve seen first-hand the pressure call center agents are under in my role as a social media coordinator for one of my former companies. Sometimes the increased call volume and endless hiring funnel are too much to handle.
Now, at ScreenSteps — a knowledge base software company that supports call centers — I’ve talked with both BPOs and call center managers who have benefited from working together.
In this article, I’m going to explain the role of a BPO, how you can use a BPO, and when hiring a BPO is a viable solution for overwhelmed call centers. These signs will help you identify whether it is time for your company to hire a BPO.
What is a BPO?
BPO means Business Process Outsourcing. A BPO is a third-party service provider that your company can hire to provide support for your company. Businesses outsource a portion of their work to a BPO.
Some examples of BPO services include:
- Taking inbound customer support calls
- Making outbound calls
- Handling your employee benefits
- Doing your back-office work (e.g. accounting, payroll)
- Perform routine audits (e.g. for audit firms)
- Managing documents
- Telemarketing services
When you hire a BPO for a call center, you can choose to have the BPO manage outbound, inbound, or both types of calls. In this blog post, we’ll be focusing on BPOs that handle your inbound/outbound calls.
Inbound vs. outbound call services
Some BPOs provide both inbound and outbound call services. Often, they only provide one of the call services options. Here is the difference between inbound and outbound call services.
A BPO that handles inbound calls answers incoming calls. Essentially, it is your customer service center. They answer customer questions, handle complaints, set up service appointments, and more.
Outbound BPOs, on the other hand, make telephone calls. These calls can be to existing customers or telemarketing calls. It can be a branch to your sales department where they provide cold call services.
2 options for hiring a BPO
Every BPO is an independent business, so the company has different services to offer. There are two main options for outsourcing your call center to a BPO.
1. Outsource your entire call center
Outsourcing your entire call center means contracting a BPO to handle all of your customer service calls.
There are many circumstances where you may consider outsourcing your entire call center to a BPO. Some of the circumstances include:
- If your company hasn’t had a call center in the past and is now considering adding a call center division
- If your company is wanting expert experience in customer service so that they can focus on other key functions of your business
- If you are trying to save costs on
2. Outsource part of your call center
Outsourcing part of your call center services means that you keep some of your call center responsibilities in-house while contracting an outside BPO to help with specific areas of your call center.
This could mean they handle a distinctive role in your business. Some examples of when you might outsource part of your call center include:
- If you want to provide 24/7 service and want to use workers in different time zones
- If you have specific procedures (i.e. scheduling appointments for a specific region)
When should I hire a BPO for my call center?
It’s difficult to know when you can continue handling your call center responsibilities on your own or when it is time to outsource some or all of your call center services. Each company has unique circumstances and there is no one cut-and-dry answer for everyone.
However, there are some key indicators for when you should consider hiring a BPO for your call center. Here are 3 situations where it is a good idea to hire a BPO.
1. You’re looking to reduce call center costs
Is your budget a concern? Running an in-house call center can be expensive. You have to budget for:
- Hiring costs
- Training costs
- Equipment costs
- Overhead costs (i.e. office space)
When you hire a BPO, you contract to pay a set cost for your services. The BPO handles all the details for these expenses and calculates them into what they charge your company. Because they are experts in the field, they can often provide call center services for a lower price.
2. Your company is scaling
Is your company growing? Are you having a hard time hiring? One challenge many call centers struggle with is hiring and retaining call center agents.
If your call center is scaling, it can be extra challenging to keep up with the exponential growth.
Some BPOs allow you to have a hand in choosing the agents they hire for your company. Other BPOs handle all hiring and training aspects. This saves you the cost, time, and headache associated with hiring new agents for your call center.
3. You need to cover more service hours
Do you need full-service coverage? Or, do you just need coverage from 5vpm – 7 am?
Many BPO companies are located internationally. This means it is easier to have full service at your call center. You have agents who are working in different time zones.
If you have a business in Florida (EST) and your BPO is in the Philippines (Philippine Standard Time or PST), then your BPO agents are 13 hours ahead. That means when your last shift of in-house agents gets off at 6 pm EST, your first “night shift” agents sign on at 7 am PST.
You have easy 24/7 hour service.
Ready to hire a BPO for your call center?
Hiring a BPO for a call center can help alleviate the pressure on you and your call center agents. You can either hire a BPO for part of your services or have them completely take over your call center responsibilities.
When you hire a BPO to support your call center, it helps to provide your BPO with a resource that helps them follow your company's policies and procedures.
With ScreenSteps, we make it easy for you to document your policies and procedures in one location and make that information easily accessible to your BPO agents.
Having a knowledge base helps your agents — no matter where they are located — know the proper way to perform a procedure or process.
Need more help deciding if hiring a BPO is the right choice for your call center? Check out this article that provides seven pros and six cons for outsourcing your call center.