How to best market offshore

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Erv Magram
Erv Magram

Many of America's largest companies have been using offshore resources for manufacturing and services for many years. Today, the depth of business process outsourc­ing has increased dramatically to encompass mail order processing, warranty/product regis­tration processing, special campaign support, document/information data entry, document scanning and legal transcription, insurance, legal, accounting and human resources.

For catalog companies currently operating large in-house domestic call centers, the use of a quality third-party offshore call center outsource facility can greatly increase internal efficiency and reduce overall operational costs significantly. Since the outsourcer is now your lower cost provider, here are some opportunities you may take advantage of:

Staff your call center for mid-volume periods — there's no need to staff for the first week of a catalog drop. In effect, you may be best served by having 35-40 full-time staffers rather than 50. Eliminate second and third shifts that require an inefficient management structure and are difficult to staff and control. Close your call center on Sundays and holidays, when per-call costs are probably highest.

By offshoring, there's also no need to franti­cally ramp up staff for holiday, Valentine's Day or Mother's Day call volume, and no need to worry about blizzards, systems crashes, earthquakes or hurricanes. You simply flip the switch and increase your allocation to the outsource call center until the winds subside and the snow stops. When they are a quality lower cost provider, the decision to send the calls out is also a financial plus.

The decision concerning which offshore teleservices companies to consider is a surpris­ingly similar process to the one you would use to select a domestic provider, with a few important additional considerations. Check references and listen to live calls. If possible, work with people whose reputation you already know and who you can trust. Con­sider those companies that have experience with catalog clients and know the level of service that is required. Select the host coun­try wisely — consider countries in which the population is Westernized, where the labor force speaks American English, and where there is a familiarity with American culture and a favorable attitude toward America.

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