Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

InfoCision: Profitable Contact Center Services on U.S. Soil

March 11, 2014

There are very few universal truths in the contact center business, except maybe to “expect the unexpected.” Different industries have different customer support quirks, and while most contact centers state that their top goal is to provide customers with an excellent customer support experience, the methods of reaching that goal will be different.  

Business process outsourcing (BPO) companies don’t have the luxury of operating in only one industry and serving one kind of customer. Because of the nature of their business, they need to be prepared for anything. Not only do they need to please their clients, they need to please their clients’ customers.

In the 1990s, many companies began engaging contact center service providers offshore in an effort to improve profit margins. Attracted by low salaries and English-speaking workers, they flocked to places like India or Central America that promised customer support that was just as good as what U.S. BPO companies were offering, but much cheaper.

For many companies, it simply didn’t work out. Customers were annoyed by accents or cultural barriers and indignant that American jobs were being sent offshore. Reactionary legislation appeared in Congress to try and strip companies that offshored their call center services of federal benefits, or that would have allowed U.S. consumers to request a U.S.-based agent. Large companies lobbied heavily against the legislation, stating that they simply couldn’t afford to use American agents and still be profitable. For a while, these legislative efforts were beaten back because lawmakers believed the arguments.

Yet there are BPO companies that have made the all-American contact center services model work, and work well. At the recent ITEXPO event in Miami, TMC CEO Rich Tehrani sat down with Steve Brubaker, Chief of Staff at InfoCision, a prominent American BPO company based in Akron, Ohio with 32 contact centers located throughout the Midwest. Tehrani asked Brubaker about InfoCision’s reputation for treating employees like family and offering fair pay and benefits.

“In our business -- call centers -- it’s all about people,” said Brubaker. “People are our business and it’s important that we create an environment where people are comfortable; where they can achieve success and know that we value their hard work and effort for our clients.”

Brubaker notes that finding a good outsourcing partner makes sense. Few companies have the budget or expertise to build a first-class contact center from the ground up. Even if they try, this work distracts them from their core competencies. It doesn’t mean, however, that companies should have to go to the ends of the earth to find value. After all, if the agents picking up the call are offering a sub-standard experience – or the customers simply can’t understand them – very little of value has been gained.

The all-U.S. model works for InfoCision, which has seen a lot of growth recently, both in its core competencies in business-to-consumer and in an expanding business-to-business segment that employs professional b-to-b sales personnel. InfoCision doesn’t simply offer warm bodies in seats, but a complete package that includes business intelligence, data analytics and reporting. This is a clue to the type of value that InfoCision can successfully offer clients: improving profit margins in call center operations doesn’t simply involve paying lower salaries; it’s also about more effective customer support that keeps customers happy so they return and induces them to spend more (or donate more, since many of InfoCision’s clients are non-profit organizations). On the b-to-b front, through the successful use of analytics, a skilled BPO provider can ensure that the next call dialed is the most likely to result in a sale.

Studies have found that customer engagement – one of the high water marks of success in the contact center industry – cannot take place without employee engagement. When employees are treated like disposable commodities, they simply don’t have enough emotion invested in their jobs to be engaged. So while the numbers may look good on the RFP, chances are, these numbers have little root in reality. 

Edited by Cassandra Tucker