How can you integrate and control activities of service providers?

The third part of the series Make or Buy looks at the integration of call center activities between client and the external service provider. As well as the control mechanisms to manage quality and costs of service providers.

The integration of processes, technologies, qualifications of personnel, as well as management of costs and services for both the client and the service provider is often the most underestimated task within the framework of an outsourcing project. From experience though, the whole project’s success is dependent on the quality of the integration

Call center agents should, through the definition of access rights, have no ability to export data, to delete it or to copy it to a different database.

Table 1 shows a checklist for technology relevant point

Checklist Technology

  • Which data are needed for the project?
  • Where is that data held?
  • Can the data be transferred to the service provider electronically?
  • Which unique identifiers does the service provider need in order to be able to re-integrate the data into the clients’ systems
  • How often does the service provider need data updates or new data?
  • How does the data get to the service provider (taking data security into account)?
  • How will it be guaranteed that only relevant service provider personnel have access to the data?
  • Does the service provider have a data protection officer who can give information on relevant legislation for data protection?
  • Which access should the service provider have to data (read only, read/write, full access)?
  • Decide at which point the service provider will release results data
  • In which format and how will you receive results data?
  • How can this data be re-integrated into the clients’ software system
  • Who looks after the resulting follow-on activities?
  • Are service numbers necessary for the project?
  • Clarify rights to the service number

Checklist Cost and Service Assessment

  • Cost drivers and the contractually established targets and price agreements as described in Part 1, should be the starting point. Service and cost assessment from overall business aims should be analyzed and transferred into individual call centre activities
  • These activities should be used for reporting. Together with the service provider it should be decided, which parameters are needed and how the relevant data can be collected.
  • Mystery calls should be made by the client or their consultant, specialist or another agency – but it should not just be left to the service provider.
  • Regular site visits are important – not only, if there are problems – but unannounced and in irregular intervals. These visits should be used to promote mutual trust
  • Customer surveys are a good way of gaining direct feedback from customers. These should be compared to the competition. Desired and actual outcomes should be looked at and questions should be raised for reasons of consistent and significant deviance.
  • Service results and costs should be compared.