10 Tips for More Engaged Outsourced Agents

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There are a variety of reasons to outsource customer service work. Having been a part of outsourcing from both sides of the relationship, I’ve discovered that there’s one thing that rings true. A decision to outsource is a decision to entrust an essential aspect of your customer experience to a group of agents not housed under the same roof as you. This can feel like a big responsibility and risk, and as I mentioned in a recent post on contact center attrition, it’s a reminder of the importance of partnering with an outsourcer that places great emphasis on culture and employee engagement.

That being said, the best outsourcing relationships occur when companies partner with the outsourcer and view their outsourced team as an extension of our internal team. Here are some ways to do just that:

1. Host regular colleague round table discussions

We often encourage our clients to meet with the colleagues on their team in a group setting. This is a great opportunity to find out what’s working well and what isn’t from the colleague perspective. Taking action on this feedback and closing the loop with the team shows them that their voice is heard and their opinion is valued.

2. Have periodic one on one meetings

Depending on the size of your team, take time to meet one on one with each member on occasion. Get to know your colleagues on a human level in addition to discussing their work. Knowing that the client cares about the success of the individuals on the team is very important.

3. Visit them regularly

A great outsourcing partner opens their doors to their clients, allowing them to set up shop and work with the colleagues as much or as little as they want to. Take the time to visit the outsourcer regularly. Your presence is integral in making colleagues feel a part of the team.

4. Allow colleagues to see behind the curtain

Consider flying some members of your team to headquarters to work with the internal team and learn more about operations. This is a great way to reward top performers. It leaves team members excited to go back to work and share what they learned and observed with the rest of the team.

voodoodonuts5. SWAG

A little SWAG goes a long way. While the colleagues work for the outsourcer, they also take great pride in the companies they represent. T-shirts and other items with the company name on it go a long way. If not SWAG, pizza and doughnuts are always appreciated as well.

6. Open communication channels

There are so many great tools out there to make communication between headquarters and the outsourced team effective. Tools like Slack allow colleagues to share feedback and ask questions and allow headquarters to share updates quickly. They also make the friendly banter between coworkers possible.

7. Recognize talent regardless of location

You may quickly discover stars on your outsourced team that perform every bit as good as your internal team— maybe even better. Don’t let the fact that they are outsourced stop you from giving them added responsibility and working with the outsourcer to reward and promote them accordingly.

8. Conduct employee engagement surveys

A number of our clients conduct their regular employee engagement surveys with their outsourced team. While you perhaps don’t have the same control over employee engagement as you would if they were in house, the right outsourcing partner will get you extremely close. Use that to drive real improvement to their work.

9. Empower, empower, empower

You may find that you want to limit the access and ability of the outsourced colleagues. As they become proficient, the more you can empower them to solve problems, especially if it prevents escalations, the better. A great team will prove themselves worthy of the added responsibility.

10. Have fun

At FCR, there is something fun going on almost every day in our centers. It’s ok to let your hair down and join in. Some colleagues from one of our centers traveled to a client that was local and glitter bombed her office on her birthday. I’m pretty sure she got them back all in good fun.

red-nose

These are just some of the ways we’ve seen our clients actively work to drive engagement with their outsourced team. In a great outsourcing relationship, the outsourcer welcomes and encourages it. This is a surefire way to drive attrition down and employee engagement up.

Jeremy-Watkin-Blog-Profile

Jeremy Watkin
Head of Quality
FCR

Jeremy Watkin is the Head of Quality at FCR. He has more than 15 years of experience as a customer service professional.  He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog.  Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership.  Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

5 Comments. Leave new

This is incredibly accurate. Making an outsourced colleague feel like one of your team members and showing them that their opinion is valued is irreplaceable, and results in a colleague who is protective of your brand and a star to your customers.

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Jeremy Watkin
05/12/2016 9:28 pm

Thank you, Glenna!

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10 Tips for More Engaged Outsourced Agents - Customer Service Life
05/24/2016 9:22 pm

[…] post was originally published on the FCR blog on May 12, 2016. Click here to read the […]

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11/20/2017 3:23 pm

[…] agents engaged and a part of the company culture is much like keeping internal agents engaged. Here’s an article I wrote with some practical tips for doing […]

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12/12/2017 9:49 pm

[…] agents engaged and a part of the company culture is much like keeping internal agents engaged. Here’s an article I wrote with some practical tips for doing […]

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