A third-party provider can make or break your reputation. The outsourced customer service solution you use could reinforce your brand messaging, or quickly deteriorate your investment. Many growing businesses rely on outsourcing solutions because they can scale up or down, support an internal customer service staff, and streamline operations so they can focus on what their business does best. Professional, experienced third-party providers can be a partner in your growth. The question is: Are you working with a partner or just a vendor? A partner treats your customers as if they were it’s own. A partner can provide local customer service teams that are industry-specific. A partner monitors and measures quality. A partner will grow with your business so you can reach your sales and profitability goals. As for mere vendors, you might have already found out the hard way that a call center provider that isn’t aligned with your culture, brand and sales goals could send the wrong message to your customers. And, what business can afford that in this competitive, global economy? So, what does it mean to work with an outsourced partner? What should you expect if you decide to work with Ameridial? Let’s take a look…
Family Values—It’s All About People
Why does it matter if your call handling provider has family values? We’re glad you asked. It means people come first—and since customer service is all about people, the agents interacting with your customer base should be focused on creating relationships, not just completing transactions. This begins with the telecommunications vendor treating its own people as assets. Find out if the partner you’re considering offers career advancement opportunities and continuing education. Is the company offering jobs or careers? When employees feel valued and invested in, they naturally dedicate more energy and resources into serving your customers because they know their role is a critical part of your sales and business growth. The customer service reps working at the third-party company need to see the end game and understand your goals, and this happens when people are the focus. Ameridial is a privately-owned business, and that’s unusual in the global customer service call center industry. Since 1992, we have been ranked among the nation’s top 50 teleservice agencies—and we’ve stayed true to our roots as a company that lives by the Golden Rule: Treat others as you wish to be treated.
Forget the Revolving Door—We’re Talking Tenure
As we said, people are the most valuable asset at Ameridial—and at any outsourcing provider. It’s all about who’s touching your customers because they are acting as an extension of your business. In the industry, turnover is fairly common, especially among call agencies that are more focused on filling seats than developing career paths for their people. We understand why: Developing careers requires investing in people. It calls for time, resources, commitment. Ameridial has always been focused on putting people first no matter the expense. The average age of our customer care professionals is 35 years old, and our team is experienced and educated. All of our team members have high school degrees; many have college degrees. The management team average tenure is more than 15 years at the company. In fact, our Vice President of Client Services has been at Ameridial for more than 27 years, and our Vice President of Call Center Operations celebrated 25 years at our firm. The list goes on. We know, it’s difficult to retain top talent in today’s competitive job market. But, Ameridial continues to be an employer of choice because we live our core values and invest in what matters most to our business: people.
Core Values—Living Them Out
Many times, core values are some keywords that a company puts up on its website or posts on a wall—but do they really resonate with the people who work at the business? How does the company actually live out its core values? We think it’s important to ask this question when vetting outsource partners. Find out if the provider walks its talk. At Ameridial, our core values are:
Transparency: No surprises. We provide our team with unprecedented access to supervisors, managers, executives and even the owners of Ameridial. We bring this same level of transparency and access to our clients. If you’ve got a question, just ask. We’ll be honest.
Integrity: Trust is built when a provider fulfills promises. Do what you say you are going to do, when you said you’re going to do it. Is your outsourcing company coming up with excuses for missing targets or over-explaining poor results to the extent that you’re wondering just how honest the vendor is being? Integrity is simply being honest. And, we think that should be simple.
Flexibility: Your business is constantly changing, and you need a third-party service provider that is responsive, flexible and tailored to your company’s evolving needs. If you feel locked into a one-size-fits-all program, it’s time to evaluate whether the vendor is really a partner or just a provider.
Loyalty: Find out the tenure of your outsourcing company’s partners and employees. Longevity is an indication of their commitment to the company, and your sales and marketing goals.
Family Values: Going back to people, a third-party partner that treats everyone like family can attract and retain top talent. These valuable, experienced people ultimately work as an extension of your business.
Training—Building Experienced Advocates
In many ways, the customer service representatives that work on behalf of your company are advocates for your brand. The way they treat customers, answer questions, process requests and develop relationships is a direct reflection of your business. That is why training is imperative for customer service associates, and you should find out whether your partner is invested in continuing education.
- Training should focus on professionalism, promptness, and efficiency.
- Customer service representatives are your brand ambassadors.
- Team members should embrace clients’ brand messaging.
Find out what your third-party partner’s training process is. At Ameridial, we use a Train the Trainer protocol that involves joint training sessions where clients and our management team transfer your knowledge to the service provider associates that will represent your brand. The process involves call simulations. We involve quality control personnel to ensure that messaging is on target. We even offer clients the opportunity to “be the customer” and place test calls to our team. The bottom line is, your call center provider is an actual partner when the firm focuses on training so associates can truly be experienced brand advocates for your business.
Check, Check—Quality Assurance
How does your outsourcing partner measure and monitor quality? Is there a formal auditing process in place—and how does that work? These are important questions to ask when considering a partner who will represent your brand, products, and services. At Ameridial, we audit all of our representatives through live call monitoring and call recording reviews. We grade calls based on criteria that our clients specify so we meet their expectations. Then, we provide customized report cards that detail the findings. There are always ways to improve. But to do so, a call vendor must actively engage in a quality assurance program that is sanctioned by the customer. When hiccups or weaknesses are discovered, a plan should be put in place to correct any quality lags to maintain customers’ brand integrity. All of this goes back to transparency: being open, honest, fair, flexible and evolving to the changing needs of our business partners.
Implementation—Ensuring a Smooth Transition
When you select a new telecommunications service provider, you want to be sure you’ll experience a seamless transition to the service team. A timely, successful launch is critical, so how will the provider make this happen? Who is the point person responsible for guiding you through the transition? An implementation director is someone who collaborates with department heads at your organization to be sure there are proper resources allocated to your campaign, and that the launch is timely and successful. A program manager ensures you have a successful, sustainable relationship with Ameridial. This leader is your daily contact and point person—your internal advocate and liaison. Ameridial matches you with our implementation director and a program manager that understands your industry, your marketing and sales goals, your culture and your brand messaging. If these key personnel is missing from the team, that’s a red flag that your transition might not go as smoothly as you expect.
Flexibility in a Changing Business Environment
Your business is constantly changing and your third-party provider should be responsive, flexible and nimble. This will give your organization the ability to:
- Scale up or scale down—The third-party company should support your growth and react to market changes.
- Support internal staff—If you need to augment your internal call center, an outsourced partner should collaborate with your team to fill gaps and provide only the services you need.
- Streamline your operations—You focus on your core competencies and trust an outsourcing partner to manage customer service.
Your Outsourced Service Provider: Partner or Vendor?
Selecting an outsourced service provider is a critical business decision that has a direct impact on your brand messaging, sales and profitability. You want a partner—not just a vendor. Learn more about Ameridial and ask us how the companies we support through our membership support, customer care and outsource solutions are growing their businesses successfully. Contact Ameridial today for a quote, or call us at 888-480-8700.