Every potential call center partner needs to have certain levels of technology, financial soundness, institutional stability, experience, capacity and capability just to be considered. Once these minimum standards have been established and the short list is complete, the real selection begins.
Some companies don’t seem to want your business. Maybe you’re not big enough, or you aren’t in the right industry, or you don’t match their profile for a good fit. Whatever the reason, valid or not, stated or unstated, you feel as though your business isn’t important to them. Take them off the list.
Is the management of the call center involved in its daily operations? Do they really understand the business or is their focus elsewhere? Are your direct contacts within the call center able to make decisions or do they require layers of authorization? How deep are they in the various support functions? Are they flexible enough to adapt to your needs with both their policies and their systems? And do they adapt grudgingly or readily? If flexibility is in their nature they will be able to show examples of it with other projects.
Every remaining company that wants to do business with you will show you its best work and allow you to talk with some of their clients. The job here is to sort these recommendations according to similarity to the type of business you want to do, the number and length of the business relationships, and the degree of access you have to those directly involved in projects. This level of analysis will reduce the list still further.
Tired of the Guided Tour? Want to get off on your own and talk to the locals? How free are you to visit with various disciplines and functions within the potential partner? Do managers give you their extension numbers and encourage you to call them? The list is shorter still.
Do the difficulties or problems you pose to various managers seem familiar to them? Do their responses indicate that they have dealt with similar issues before? Do they give you a sense of confidence that they can steer your project through whatever difficulties may arise? Would they recognize an opportunity to improve your project if they saw one? Do they seem stressed and overworked or relaxed and confident? We are down to one or two on the list.
Look at the people working in the call center. Are they smiling? Relaxed? Focused? Drop in on a training session. What is the level of engagement? The skill of the instructor? Talk to Human Resources. What is the level of attrition? Do people stay with the company? Stop in the lunch room. What’s the buzz? Ask yourself what it would be like to work here. If you wouldn’t want to, don’t.
People do business with people they want to do business with. How do you feel after a day on-site or a long meeting or a lunch with these people? Are you looking forward to seeing them again? Do they “get” your business? Do they seem to want to know more?