By Nathan Teahon
Outsourced call centers come in many shapes and sizes. In fact, a call center is similar to a person, with each one having their own strengths and weaknesses. Evaluating those strengths and matching them with a client or program is a crucial first step in having a successful inbound, outbound, or omni-channel call center program.
But where does size fit into this equation? Is a bigger call center always better? Surely a call center with five hundred seats is better than one with seventy-five, right? The answer isn’t so clear, however, and in many circumstances that might not be the case. Here are the top factors to consider when evaluating if an outsourced call center is the right size for your program.
Small Fish in a Big Pond?
When looking at the size of an outsourced call center, it’s important to evaluate the size of the inbound or outbound program you’re looking to place. Let’s say your call center program is going to require five agents to start and has the potential to be ten ongoing. A call center with five hundred seats is certainly going to have no issue taking on that effort, but will that ten-person program be meaningful to them? Where is it going to rank in terms of priorities for the management staff, and what chance does it have in getting access to the call center’s top-tier agents? Is that campaign going to be treated as a small fish in a big pond?
A ten-person program is potentially going to be much more meaningful for a seventy-five-seat call center. At any time, it could make up 13 percent of the total seats in that center versus just 2 percent of the seats in the five-hundred-seat center. It’s a much higher priority to the management of that outsourced call center and, as a result, is more likely to get the attention it deserves.
Of course, this can work in the opposite way as well. A campaign that requires fifty seats isn’t going to be a good fit in that seventy-five-seat center. The agents will likely be overextended and will struggle to keep up with the quality demands of the program. This leads to the next point.
The Scalability Factor
While it’s important that the size of the campaign is something that will be meaningful to the outsourced call center, it’s also important to consider if the capacity of the center can keep up with the anticipated growth of the program. There’s a balance that must be sought between ensuring that a program is meaningful and a priority for a center versus growing a campaign to a point where the center can’t keep up with the staffing requirements.
Outgrowing a single call center location or team isn’t the worst thing in the world, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t use that outsourced call center. It isn’t uncommon to spread call volumes across more than one location (either with the same company or a different outsource call center). Adding a second call center team to ensure that you have the best possible agents on the program, while also having some healthy competition, can be a great thing. It’s important to be aware of your options to ensure long-term success.
In addition to the number of seats, the size of the call center can have many pros and cons. With a small call center, you need to evaluate if they have the technological wherewithal to meet the program’s requirements. Additionally, while a ten-seat program may be more meaningful, it’s also important that they have the proper management bandwidth to properly support the program from a training, supervision, and quality assurance perspective.
A larger call center, in theory, is more likely to not have those issues. However, some larger call center organizations have so much red tape that it doesn’t allow them to move nimbly, including being able to make sure you reach your goals within a short time frame. These are things to evaluate; they aren’t true to every small or large center, but these generalities can often be correct.
In the end, size is just one piece of the puzzle, but it’s a piece that needs to be evaluated.
Nathan Teahon is the vice president at Quality Contact Solutions, a leading outsourced call center organization. He grew up in the business and intimately knows and has played every position in the field, including supervisor, quality assurance, call center manager, program management, account management, and call center psychologist. Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 516-656-5133.