Is it time to re-examine your call centre outsourcing relationship?

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Is it time to re-examine your call centre outsourcing relationship?

One of the biggest contact centre industry trends I’ve experienced this year is how clients are re-examining their Call Centre outsourcing relationship.

In an industry where we often don’t know what we don’t know, clients who outsource often know the least.

And it’s certainly true that some clients prefer to not know what they don’t know – expecting the outsourcer to address all aspects of Customer management, experience & relationships.

But with that said, I’ve noticed a lot of clients are re-examining their call centre outsourcing relationships.

Over the past year I’ve had 1 – 2 inquiries per month along the lines of:

“Hey Dan, can you help us relook at our outsourcing contract, upcoming RFP or outsourcer performance?”

Some of these inquiries came from organisations who wanted to up the game of their outsourcer – but their hands were tied by poorly designed contracts which were still in force.

In these cases, the outsourcer reply ran along the lines of – “That’s not in the contract.”

It’s really tough to be locked into an existing outsourcing contract that was designed and executed years earlier by colleagues who are likely long gone or operating in different roles.

Some clients don’t want to be in the outsource business

A few of these inquiries to me came from organisations where the folks in charge of the call centre outsourcing relationship don’t want to be in charge – or who take charge grudgingly.

After meeting a few of these folks, the common thread to their situation was that ‘handling the call centre outsourcer’ was just one of their overall job responsibilities.

And likely the one that caused the most headaches.

If you worked somewhere where Contact Centre or CX was seen as so simple that it could just be one of your responsibilities -that would be a barrier to wanting to work proactively with the outsourcer.

Couple that with the belief that you needed little to no background in Contact Centre or CX – well it would be hard to get a Client like this to become knowledgeable and passionate about the industry.

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I had an interesting meeting…

Early this year, I was invited in to discuss an outsourcer evaluation for a major brand. Their current call centre outsourcer contract ran into the millions of dollars.

I had expected a senior level audience and prepared accordingly.

Instead, I was greeted by 2 mid-level executives who were nominally in charge of the outsourcer relationship.

Neither had any Contact Centre or Customer experience credentials nor did they want any.

They simply wanted a quick and dirty report card on the performance of their call centre outsourcer – and they wanted it to be done fast and cheap.

The risk of not stepping up to the plate in an outsourcer relationship

Aside from the obvious financial implications – and the impact on Customer experience – there is an additional risk when organisations fail to step up to the plate and partner fully in their outsourcing relationships.

Customer care, Customer experience, Contact Centres & Service delivery – whatever you choose to call it – is a complex business discipline.

It’s a lot more than ‘being nice’ while on you’re on the phone.

It takes time and mastery to build up what I call your ‘Customer chops’.

For some people it is a life-long calling.

By not stepping up to the plate, these folks on the Client side – by design or circumstance – fail to build up their Customer chops.

So when the time comes when someone finally says – “Hey, why are we getting so many complaints?” or

“Hey, does anybody understand our outsourcing contract?” or

“Hey, how are we doing with successful implementation of self-care/human-care strategies?” no one is going to have a robust answer.

And that’s going to be a problem.

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Build your chops

One of the biggest decisions your organisation will ever make – when you decide to outsource – is who will manage your Customer outsourcing and how it will be done.

And the only way to get this right is to take it seriously – learn the industry, build your chops, partner closely with your outsourcer.

Daniel Ord on Linkedin
Daniel Ord
Founder & Director @ OmniTouch International
Daniel Ord is an American national, 17 year Singapore Permanent Resident and a 30 year veteran of the Service Management/Contact Centre industry. Through facilitation and speaking, I help and inspire corporate and governmental Clients to dramatically improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Service delivery across the Customer journey.

Over the past 16 years, I have engaged with more than 1,500 organisations, across 40 countries and with more than 50,000 participants in workshops & speaking engagements.