What is a BPO Call Centre & How Does it Work?

Hit your business’ maximum operational capacity but still unable to meet customer expectations? It might be time to let a BPO call centre step in…

Outsourcing your call centre operations might feel like letting go of the reins, but could it actually be a good thing for your business and overall customer satisfaction? Although it’s entirely possible to run your customer service completely in-house, it’s still a good idea to consider how your business could benefit from outsourcing.

Here, we’ll discuss what BPO stands for and how BPO call centres work before weighing up their major benefits and disadvantages.

What does BPO stand for?

BPO is an acronym which stands for business process outsourcing. This generally refers to outsourcing the non-core activities carried out by your call centre, leaving your team to focus on the more pressing matters.

How do BPO call centres work?

Business process outsourcing vendors provide third-party support for inbound, outbound or mixed call centres.

Online chat support services and marketing are just some of the services offered by BPO call centres and their customer service teams. Generally, BPOs will handle any non-core business tasks.

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Where do businesses outsource to?

Businesses are able to choose whether to outsource their call centre operations in their own country or abroad. Taking the operations offshore can often be the cheapest option. Many of the most popular countries with BPO call centres like the Philippines, Mexico and Malaysia offer call centre services at a fraction of the cost compared to the UK or US.

However, outsourcing to these countries can be seen as unethical because they receive lower wages for the same output as in the wealthier regions of the world. While the lower wage typically reflects lower rents and reduced setup costs, it’s important to consider the ethics of outsourcing to these countries, alongside the chasm of differences in culture that can be difficult to bridge and could have devastating consequences on your brand, customer loyalty and churn rate.

Businesses can also outsource in their own country, although initial cost savings are usually much lower. Ultimately though, businesses can save through economies of scale that outsourcers have access to, and the efficiencies gained in their knowledge and expertise. The BPO specialises in customer service, while you remain a specialist in your business.

Business Process Outsourcing: Inbound vs. Outbound

As we’ve mentioned, BPO call centres can handle both inbound and outbound operations. So, what’s the difference between the two?

Inbound BPO

Inbound call centres typically tackle support questions and general enquiries. But it can often be difficult to keep up with the volume of support needed to keep your customer satisfaction levels high without outsourcing. Outsourcing inbound calls allows your team to focus on higher-value requests and tricky PR while leaving most other queries and tasks to the BPO agents. Of course, solutions can often vary depending on the scale of your business and the industry, since a retailer call centre will handle different requests to the likes of a utilities business.

Inbound BPO support often includes the following:

  • Support questions: Answering support-based questions and queries is often one of the main duties inbound call centres are responsible for. Sharing these duties with a BPO provider will lessen the load and boost the efficiency of your support.
  • Order processing: Some customers prefer to make purchases and handle transactions via telephone. While this isn’t as common of a customer request these days, it can still be helpful to accommodate customers wherever possible.
  • Dispatch calls: Dispatch agents will handle customer calls regarding technical support, or any other requests sent to the centre.

Outbound BPO

Outbound calls can often become tedious for those working in customer support. By outsourcing these types of calls to a BPO call centre, you can still see the same results as you would by taking on the task yourselves, but without causing strain on your in-house employees.

Centres offering outbound BPO support will mainly handle the following:

  • Telemarking: Marketing over the phone can be a long and tedious process. However, outsourcing this to external agents can create new leads and increase ROI for your marketing spend since you’re spending less and boosting profits.
  • Telesales: BPO agents are often skilled in cold calling, which means they’re well-equipped to close deals over the phone and generate more sales for a business.
  • Market research: Finding out how customers feel post-purchase and conducting feedback surveys can be essential for creating new customer service strategies and calculating your key metrics. BPO agents can contact customers to find out all this information so that you can collect it without taking resources from your call centre.

Advantages of BPO call centres

How can businesses benefit from BPO call centres? Below, we’ll guide you through some of the top advantages.

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Lower response times

Put simply, the more staff members you have working in the customer service department, the lower your response times will be. This means that key metrics like first response time (FRT) and average reply time (ART) can easily be boosted. As a result, customer issues are quickly resolved, which allows your teams to get through more queries and questions than before.

Save time & money

Running an in-house call centre can sometimes come at a high cost. From set-up costs to training overheads to budgeting for salaries, outsourcing can help you save money in your communications budget.

BPO call centres can also help you save time and boost efficiency within your existing call and contact centres. The availability of additional agents means that your staff can spend more time focussing on important and urgent tasks since they can take on any non-urgent calls or contact requests.

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24/7 support options for your customers

Outsourcing allows businesses of all types to offer round-the-clock support for their customers. Whether you outsource your operations for out-of-office hours or take on 24/7 BPO support to work alongside your in-house agents, this means that your customers can access your business at a time that works best for them. It can also reduce wait times and keep customer frustrations with time to a minimum.

Disadvantages of BPO call centres

While there are plenty of benefits to BPO call centres, it’s important to assess the negatives too. Below we’ll explain a few of the main disadvantages of business process outsourcing for call centres…

Risk of lower communication quality

Outsourcing to a third party could increase the risk that customers won’t receive the same quality and quantity of support that they’re used to. You’re leaving the hiring and onboarding to an external source, which means that you’re relinquishing control over the quality and potential effectiveness of the agents.

Your agents will be trained and experienced in how to deal with your customers and should understand how best to communicate. However, third-party agents might not speak English as their first language or have a good grasp on how to deal with customer support issues. As a result, there’s a risk that customers will receive inadequate, inefficient, or just incorrect information.

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The Tech

Security concerns

Adding a third party to your call centre operations could expose your business and customer data to security threats. When handing over control to BPO call centres, you should be careful and ensure they can be trustworthy when dealing so closely with your customers. Any breach in data security could severely disrupt customer trust and cause a breakdown in relationships.

Difficult to monitor

By outsourcing to external staff, you risk losing some control over the customer service being offered by your business. Monitoring internal operations is often a much easier task since you can use business management software to track and set workflows, check on productivity and easily redirect communications.

To combat this, there should always be open communication between your management and those running the BPO. Checking in regularly to find out whether everything is continuing to run smoothly and without issues is essential for maintaining the relationship between your business and the provider. They should be viewed as part of your business and should be treated as such, rather than forgotten about.

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