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What’s a BPO call center and what does it do?

If your business doesn’t have the bandwidth to handle all your inbound and outbound calls, it may be time to let a BPO call center step in.

By Liz Bauer

Published May 19, 2020
Last updated September 9, 2020

Not every company has the staff, tools, and skills required to meet their customers’ expectations of call center service. For example, 51% of consumers expect a response in under five minutes when they call a company, according to The Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2020. But for a small eCommerce team, meeting this expectation may not always be possible.

That’s where a business process outsourcing (BPO) call center comes in.

Business process outsourcing is the act of outsourcing some aspect of your business’s operations to a third-party vendor or service provider. A BPO call center is a team of outsourced agents who handle incoming and outgoing customer calls for other businesses.

If your business doesn’t have the bandwidth to adequately handle all your inbound and outbound calls, you may want to consider outsourcing. Read on to learn how a BPO call center can step in and provide excellent support.

Inbound BPO call center services

To some, the idea of outsourcing inbound call services may seem like a risky move. After all, outside agents simply aren’t as knowledgable as salaried employees when it comes to your company and its products.

But quickly getting up to speed is what BPO call center agents are trained to do. They’re experts at adapting to another company’s processes and help desk tools to quickly reference the resources needed to assist customers with support questions. Plus, most BPOs use their own advanced call center technology, which enables their agents to execute on a company’s existing processes with higher efficiency and ROI.

Let’s take a look at some specific types of inbound calls and how BPO call centers are equipped to handle them.

  • Support questions

  • Businesses that sell complex products or plans tend to receive a higher-than-average number of customer support inquiries. Health care companies, for example, might receive hundreds of calls a day from customers who have questions about their benefits.

    Big corporations that serve a large volume of customers often rely on entire teams of agents dedicated solely to managing these types of inbound support calls. This work is often outsourced to BPO call centers because the cost of labor is less.

    Plus, larger companies with regulated plans and services almost always have clearly documented knowledge-base resources they can easily share with BPO call center agents. These resources make it easy for BPO agents to get up and running in no time at all.

  • Order processing

  • Some customers still prefer to place their orders by phone. But processing these purchases can be time-consuming—entering customer information in your CRM, taking payment information, sending orders to fulfillment, and so on.

    Hire a BPO call center to handle this entire process—from order placement to delivery—to give your team more time for high-level business processes, such as marketing and product development. These centers are especially helpful for processing international orders during time zones outside of your business’s normal working hours and for handling overflow during high-volume days, hours, or holidays.

    By outsourcing your over-the-phone orders, you can keep the money flowing in 24/7 without having to pay employees overtime or take resources away from other core business functions.

  • Dispatch

  • Dispatch agents handle incoming calls from customers requesting a business’s service. A cab company, for example, will receive dispatch calls from clients requesting to book a car. The agent receiving the dispatch call will then notify a driver to fulfill the service.

    Rather than hire full-time, salaried employees, some companies will outsource their dispatch call enter services so that they can pay for agents on an as-needed basis. A courier company that delivers only between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays, for example, might find it more cost-effective to outsource dispatch services rather than hire salaried employees.

    With this system, you also don’t have to worry about paying an employee on a slow day when there are few dispatch calls. And, as a plus, BPO call centers can help cover odd hours to ensure that no service requests are missed.

Outbound BPO call center services

While an inbound call center agent’s job is to answer the phone, outbound call center agents are the ones making the calls. Outbound call center services are often outsourced because of how time-consuming and tedious they can be. For example, a business might call thousands of people before they get enough responses to complete a market research survey.

When you partner with a BPO call center, you can dedicate their agents to managing these tedious tasks so that your team can focus on building relationships with customers and improving your products and services.

  • Telemarketing

  • While telemarketing has historically gotten a bad rap, many companies consider it a highly effective and cost-efficient strategy for generating new leads. Unfortunately, telemarketing can yield a low ROI if your agents aren’t experienced in the art of the cold call.

    That’s where the experience, tools, and expertise of BPO call centers come into play. Their agents are hired for their ability to captivate and persuade the people they cold call. They’re trained to think quickly on their feet, to charm consumers, and to present your company’s mission statement in a way that resonates with the person on the other line. The right BPO agents can help you increase the ROI of your telemarketing efforts.

  • Telesales

  • Telesales focuses primarily on closing deals over the phone. Telesales differs from telemarketing, in that cold calls are typically made to prospects who have already been identified as promising leads.

    These calls are an important aspect of driving revenue, but businesses may not have the capacity to promptly connect with potential customers. Say you have 2,000 leads in your pipeline but only 12 reps on your team. You could spend weeks cold calling and still not connect with the right opportunities. With the help of a BPO call center, you can both reach and follow up with all the leads in your pipeline in less time, which can help your company generate more sales quickly.

    Small companies also will outsource telesales because BPO call centers have greater access to sales technology. By hiring a BPO team that already has a CRM in place, companies can reap the benefits of the tool without needing to add to their existing tech stack. This saves overhead costs and eliminates the need to spend time and resources onboarding a new tool.

  • Market research

  • Businesses often conduct over-the-phone surveys to learn more about their customer base. The data gained from market research can reveal a number of valuable insights: what resonates with shoppers, their top pain points, and so on.

    Market research calls tend to follow a set script, so you can easily outsource them to a BPO center. Just instruct BPO agents on how to greet customers and close the call, and provide them with a list of questions to ask. By outsourcing these calls, your team will be able to cost-effectively gain insights for upcoming campaigns and product releases.

Use a BPO call center to deliver excellent customer service

Your ability to deliver a positive customer service experience can make or break your business. The fact of the matter is, not every business has the resources or bandwidth to keep wait times short, resolve tickets quickly, or provide the IT expertise customers expect.

In those cases, the most reliable way to deliver that kind of service is to outsource it to the experts. With a BPO call center, you can ensure that your customers receive high-quality support without having to take time and resources away from other core functions, like product development and marketing.

Want more productive phone support? Zendesk Talk helps companies put those call center metrics to good use.