At least once each week, I talk with an executive who is underwhelmed by their contact center services provider. If he or she helped hire the provider, he or she is frustrated — maybe even embarrassed — about the situation. So, naturally, their core worry is: will Callzilla embarrass me too? 


I empathize more than they might realize.

I myself have hired service providers who did not deliver. And felt frustration and embarrasment when promised value didn’t materialize.

Call center providers naturally emphasize their strengths when selling. And executives overseeing outsourced customer service become aware of the provider’s limitations only after negative experiences.

We need a heck of a lot more transparency in this industry. Providers like us need to ante up specifics on our performance and the practices that drive it.

And there’s responsibility on the buyer side too. That is, executives shopping service providers need to insist on answers to tougher questions about performance.

Seller transparency

In a new guide we just posted, we are starting to ante up specifics on our performance and the practices that drive it. Check out “Compare Callzilla” – it’s a free PDF you can download now. It covers how we do on First Call Resolution, client services management, and agent retention — all of which is tied to core quality assurance processes. We also put in info on who we hire, how we train and develop employees, and the way to check in on agents’ interactions with customers. Since value is a ratio, there’s info too on how our fees compare on average to onshore and offshore contact centers’ fees.

Buyer scrutiny

Not in the guide are questions to ask an outsourced contact center like us. (I wanted to start walking the walk regarding transparency by offering specifics from Callzilla.) Is the next order of business publishing a suggested checklist of buyer questions?

Here is my starter list (please add via comments):

  • Contact center quality assurance — How does the provider measure quality? At what intervals and with what granularity is agent performance monitored? Will it tailor engagements and reports to your KPIs?
  • Omni-channel services — Customer service isn’t just answering calls and emails. Is the provider adept at engaging via social media? Providing support via chat?
  • Fees, cost structure, and projected value — Could you have both dedicated and shared agents, if needed? Can the provider help you with benchmarking value and comparing quality relative to their fees?
  • First-call resolution percentage — Among the most significant sources of customer frustration is a company’s failure to resolve issues promptly. How does the provider perform on first-call resolution?
  • Hiring, training, and retention — At a typical contact center, nearly all agents leave within a year. At the best ones, it’s the opposite. How are agents hired, trained, coached, and motivated? Last year, what percentage stayed on staff?
  • Getting onsite and listening in — How quickly could you get onsite to see the contact center first hand? Can you monitor any customer interactions anytime, or are you required to schedule monitoring?
  • Integrating and calibrating — How does the provider integrate with your systems? How long does it take to get up to speed? How do you provide ongoing feedback to finetune engagement?

What should executives ask of contact center providers, that I did not mention? Comments welcome.

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