Today is part two of our series on the ultimate guide to running a security dispatch center. On this episode, we take a more in-depth look at a topic we touched on last time: the pros and cons of outsourcing a dispatch center versus creating one in-house.
There are so many options available when it comes to setting up your dispatch center. Of course, outsourcing is an option that will naturally cross your mind so we have included a brief pros and cons list below. In Episode 44 we'll talk about how to actually outsource and some of the things to prepare for.
However, you may decide to keep your dispatch in-house. If that's the case then episode 45 will talk about how to launch and optimize your in-house team. Let's dive in!
Benefits of Outsourcing Your Call Center
I chose to outsource my dispatch center with my own company, and that decision primarily came down to cost. I had been using an in-house, 24 hour call center to manage calls for the variety of parking management and security management customers we had in Orange County. With so many calls coming in and so many people needed to answer phones, it ended up costing between $15-$20 thousand a month.
“We tried to add to the guard rate to cover it,” I tell Johnny, “but it was a big cost.”
Customers appreciated us handling all those calls, but too often they wouldn’t factor it in when deciding how much they were willing to pay. Part of the reason we developed the software we did was to track all these calls for our own use and to show customers just how much time we were saving them.
Outsourcing to an overseas call center ended up cutting our costs in half, due to both lower salaries for overseas agents and lower infrastructure costs. For smaller companies, outsourcing can be a great way to give your customers around the clock phone support without the cost and stress of staffing a 24-hour center.
Other benefits include:
- Augmenting customer care resources at high volume periods, avoiding customers getting put on hold.
- Ensuring the customers have immediate, reliable customer service.
- Potentially getting better service due to specialized customer service agents.
- Reducing your training burden, since you only have to set up the process, and then they’ll train the agents.
- Improving the performance of your own employees by freeing them up to focus on their primary jobs.
Downsides of Outsourcing Your Call Center
The biggest reason companies avoid outsourcing customer service overseas is the fear that customer service quality will be compromised. Outsourcing to a call center in India or another country removed from North American culture can create numerous potential issues above and beyond the obvious language/accent issue.
It’s so important to do your due diligence ahead of time before outsourcing so you know the call center can provide the requisite standard of service. If you make a mistake and work with the wrong center, the physical distance makes it difficult to exert any control over the process or correct problems. There are some tools, however, you can use to help train agents in the beginning.
“We used (Skype) to actually monitor and take the phone calls with their team in India to see how they were doing,” I tell Johnny. “That way we could sit in the background, they could mute the client, then we could actually talk to them.”
That’s hard to maintain on a regular basis though, so ultimately you have to trust that the call center can handle things on their own. If you have a wide range of services, making sure call center agents stay up to speed on your services can take a lot of effort, and you always run the risk of inconsistent experiences for customers.
Finally, overseas call centers can be limited in terms of their capabilities compared to an in-house center or supervisors in the field. They’re really only set up to receive and relay calls, whereas an in-house agent can potentially do scheduling or other administrative tasks when not answering calls.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to defining your specific needs, the volume of calls your company takes, and your overall cost structure.
Part Two of Four
Remember this is only part 2 of our four part series. Here are a few links to the other podcsts in this series:
Episode 42: The Ultimate Guide to Running Your Dispatch Center
Episode 43: The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing a Dispatch Center (you are here)
Episode 44: How to Outsource Your Dispatch Center
Episode 45: How to Launch an In-House Dispatch Center