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November 07, 2021

Is There a Difference Between a BPO and a Call Center?

Companies hire call centers to handle inbound and outbound communication with their customers and prospects. In a nutshell, call centers are BPOs, as they are third parties contracted by another company to complete a business function. 

BPO is increasing in popularity as many business leaders learn about the benefits of outsourcing, both metrics, and cost. Businesses of all sizes use BPO services as a way to improve efficiency and lower costs. 

Here, we’ll touch on all aspects of a BPO and a call center. 

What is a BPO?

BPO stands for Business Process Outsourcing and refers to the process of hiring a third-party company to handle certain business functions. There are a variety of business-related services outsourced to BPO companies, including human resources services, customer support, tech support, billing, and more. 

What is a Call Center?

A call center is a department where calls are conducted to or from customers (or prospective customers). 

Call centers make inbound and outbound calls depending on the needs of each company. These departments can be found within the business’s office or outsourced to a third party specializing in call center work. 

Inbound call centers typically handle customer service, support inquiries, order taking, appointment scheduling, and tech support. Outbound call centers commonly handle sales, lead generation, client updates, collecting payments, and appointment confirmation. 

Some will also make calls for customer follow-up to obtain satisfaction surveys or service renewals.

Types of BPOs

There are a couple of umbrellas when it comes to the types of BPOs. When searching for a BPO service to contract with, you’ll want to know what type best fits your needs. Let’s go over each. 

First Umbrella

Front Office – Front office BPO refers to services that work directly with customers. The responsibilities usually include customer service, tech support, order taking, payment processing, and marketing. A call center would be an example of a front-office BPO. 

Back Office – Back office BPO refers to services that don’t work directly with customers. Sometimes back-office services require a higher skill set to complete the task at hand. 

The common responsibilities of back-office BPO include accounting, data entry, IT, order entry, app or web development, payroll, and human resources.

Second Umbrella

Onshore

Onshore BPO vendors are located in the same country as the contracting company. The advantage of working with an onshore BPO is they are almost always fluent in English, the time zone difference is a maximum of a few hours, and they are close enough to visit from time to time. 

Nearshore

Nearshore BPO vendors are located in a different county than the contracting company, but the borders are touching or close. An example would be a US company contracting a BPO vendor in Canada. 

The benefit of working with a nearshore BPO vendor is that there’s usually not a huge difference in time or language capabilities. They typically offer lower-cost services than an onshore provider. 

Offshore

Offshore BPO vendors are located in a different country overseas from the contracting company. 

The benefit of working with an offshore BPO vendor is the cost savings, as they typically offer services at a much lower rate than nearshore and onshore companies while still providing excellent service. 

Benefits of a BPO Call Center

Many companies of all sizes, from mom and pops to Fortune 500 companies, have followed the trend of outsourcing their customer service duties to a call center. Why? Because it works! 

Hands down, customer service is one of the most challenging duties within an organization, but it’s also the most important. Customers take time to service properly, and care is needed to ensure they’re satisfied. If you want to retain your customers, you must put effort into providing excellent service.  

Today’s top businesses understand the importance of providing five-star service and an exceptional experience that their customers will run and tell their friends and family about. It’s a win-win. 

When your customer is happy and satisfied, your business reaps the benefits of retaining them and receives positive word of mouth and referrals.

When you outsource your customer service duties, your internal staff can focus on core business functions. Business leaders can avoid distractions so they can strategically work on business growth. 

Outsourcing your customer service functions to a call center also means you are putting your customers in the hands of the experts, ones that specialize in just that – providing great service. 

When you have a team dedicated to quickly satisfying your customers’ needs, you can improve your retention rate and increase revenue. 

Here are some other benefits of hiring a BPO call center:

Cost Savings 

Let’s face it, it can be pretty costly to run a business, and the expenses seem to increase. With overhead costs, payroll, and taxes, it can be challenging to improve the bottom line. 

Outsourcing to a call center is less expensive than you may think. Many companies hire offshore BPO call centers to get the best bang for their buck. 

Since there is a lower cost of living in other countries, the salaries and overhead expenses are less. These BPO companies provide services at a lower price because of this. 

Many offshore BPO vendors have a pool of talented, skilled professionals with the work ethic needed to deliver the excellent service you and your customers expect, all at a lower rate. This means you have access to a higher skill set than you may be able to afford if you hired a professional locally. 

If you outsource to countries such as the Philippines, where the culture is similar to the US and English is fluent among many, you’re in a strong position to provide high-touch customer service that costs only a fraction of onshore employees. 

These agents have the background to be able to connect with your customers and develop a closer bond with them to gain their loyalty to your brand. 

Availability 

It’s true that customer expectations are rising, and businesses need to either step up their game to meet the demands or be prepared to be left in the dust. 

A decade ago, a customer would be okay with calling a company after business hours, leaving a message, and waiting for the following business day to receive a callback.

Now, customers expect service quickly and efficiently. If you leave your customer waiting, they may easily hop online to find another provider and just dump your company completely. It sounds harsh, but it’s the reality of a world where instant gratification is king. 

When you hire a BPO call center to handle all of your customer service functions, you can offer your clients the 24/7 personalized service they crave. You can then also provide service through all the common channels consumers use today. 

Many BPO call centers offer service through calls, SMS, online chat, social media, and email, so no matter how your customer wants to contact your business, no matter the time, “you” will be available. Availability is a huge advantage in the eyes of a consumer. 

Expertise

When you hire a BPO service provider, you can look at it as enlisting experts to care for your customers. Customer service is what they should specialize in, and they should be able to prove it. 

You should have a dedicated team that has experience satisfying customers’ needs and handling upset customers to turn them into happy ones once again. 

It’s true, no business out there can please every customer, but an experienced agent knows the best practices for trying to do so.

Best Practice for a BPO Call Center

A call center must prevent a customer service nightmare that sinks your revenue. There are many best practices for a call center — which you choose to implement is up to you and may depend on the types of calls the agents handle. 

Let’s go over the top best practices for a call center to ensure your transition goes off with a bang and impresses your customers with exceptional service. 

Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

KPIs measure the success of key targets to evaluate how effective a business is at achieving a particular objective. Organizations can have many metrics used to measure KPIs. Establishing which metrics you will use is the first step. The second step is to monitor them. 

Call center metrics are often measured by First Call Resolution (FCR) or Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT). By keeping an eye on these scores, you can understand how well your call center team is performing. 

After all, the main objective for a customer service call center is to satisfy the customers’ needs. 

Create a Centralized Knowledge Base

A call center agent gets hit with many customer questions, and sometimes, the agent may not know the answer to all those questions. These times are when a centralized knowledge base comes in. 

With one in place, an agent can go to find answers to the most common questions — and if it’s a well-built knowledge base, uncommon questions, too. A thorough knowledge base helps your agents satisfy your customers’ needs quickly and accurately. 

It empowers a call center agent to be confident in their role, knowing they’ll have the resources to overcome any obstacle while talking to a customer. 

Make Quality Assurance a Priority

A quality assurance specialist or call center manager should review agents’ calls to see if there is anything to fine-tune to ensure all agents are performing their best, whether that’s an improvement that needs to be made by the agent or by the team as a whole. 

Quality assurance also includes ensuring all equipment used is in working order — if your agents are currently rerouting calls or taking extra steps to perform a simple task, there’s room for improvement. 

Develop an Omnichannel Strategy 

Customer-centric call centers offer a variety of ways for customers to reach out. Let’s face it; times have changed. Consumers don’t solely use the phone to contact a business for assistance. Millennials, especially, prefer other means to contact a company, such as SMS or via social media. 

To provide a seamless and exceptional experience for customers, the best call centers offer an omnichannel approach to providing service. The various methods include phone, SMS, email, social media, and in-app or online chat.

Hire Selectively

A call center should choose its agents based on attitudes rather than experience. You can train the right individual on how to provide awesome service, but if an individual has a poor attitude, even if you teach them, they’re not likely to be dedicated to consistently delivering top-notch service. 

Don’t Forget Company Culture

Without a doubt, customer service is a tough job. Pleasing people isn’t always a walk in the park. But an agent that enjoys their job will sound more pleasant on the phone with customers and have the ability to turn around even the most upset clients. 

The vibe and attitudes of an organization make up its culture, and it all starts with the leaders. The call center managers must set the right tone, expectations, attitudes, and goals and be sure to make it known by modeling and encouraging the behavior they wish to see. 

A light and fun culture with a professional tone and customer-first mindset make for a great modern call center. A culture that encourages others to do their best acknowledges achievements and rewards great work helps maintain that positive environment. 

Customers may not see the call center agent, but they can feel their attitude and mood through communication. Ensuring the call center culture stays positive, leaders must eliminate toxic employees immediately. 

Reduce Hold Times

The dreaded hold time always seems longer than it really is when you are the one waiting. A call center should focus on how long they keep a customer waiting and continuously work to improve those times until there is virtually no hold time. 

Keeping a customer on hold will normally result in an unhappy customer, even if their problem is resolved or their reason for calling wasn’t a problem to start with. 

Schedule Regular Check-Ins

A call center should schedule check-ins with the businesses they serve. These meetings are a way to get and give updates, strategize ways to improve and maintain close business relationships. 

Provide Proper Training 

A call center should never assume even the most experienced agents know how to provide first-class service. Every new hire should receive thorough, proper training to learn how to service that company’s specific customers to deliver exceptional care. 

Each company typically provides scripts to the call center, but the agents should understand when it’s okay to go off-script. After all, consumers today crave personalized service, which involves customizing the conversation to fit each client. 

Call center agents should also receive training on speaking positively instead of negatively. For example, rather than saying, “the product is on backorder, I won’t be able to get that to you for a month,” they could say, “the product will be available in a month, and we’ll have it shipped out to you with the upgraded shipping.”

Follow the old saying: It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. 

Both messages gave the same data, but the delivery is much more favorable the second way and will be more likely to please customers. 

Maintain Open Lines of Communication 

Lines of communication should always remain open for a business, especially call centers. Agents should feel comfortable going to their managers with any questions, feedback, or concerns so they can do their best work. 

The same goes for call centers to the businesses they’re serving. If a call center needs additional data to deliver the expected service, it should go directly to the business leader when required. Being clear about the best times to communicate and the easiest means to contact the business leader will help ensure a successful working relationship. 

Conduct A/B Testing For Call Scripts

Not all scripts are created equal, meaning one script might outperform another. Through A/B testing, a call center can determine which script is more efficient. Some call centers will often conduct A/B testing of scripts to improve the customer experience and reach higher levels of total customer satisfaction. 

Agents may be encouraged to go off script to provide a more personalized experience, but it’s still helpful to navigate conversations based on a protocol that is uniform across the team. 

To Sum It Up

There is a difference between a BPO and a call center. BPOs provide a variety of services, and a call center focuses on inbound and outbound call services. But to be clear, a call center is commonly a BPO, as they are a third party contracted by a company to deliver these calling services. 

Businesses of all sizes use BPO call centers to handle their customer service needs to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and provide a better customer experience. Be sure to follow best practices when working with a call center to ensure it’s a success and achieve the goal of satisfied, loyal customers. 

Are you ready to follow the trend of hiring a BPO call center to wow your customers with exceptional service? If so, contact AwesomeOS today.

 

Sources:

America’s Influence in the Philippines | Lifey

Customer Service Expectations Are Rising – Is Your Business Keeping Up? | Forbes

Millennials are the ‘mute generation’ according to this study | Entrepreneur

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