Looking Into Domestic Outsourcing

Considering outsourcing your contact center? Shop around carefully, align your goals with the service provider, and don’t underestimate the importance of the outsourcing company’s culture.

This was some of the advice that Timothy J. Holody, chief operating officer/general manager of Boca Raton, FL-based Seta Corp., offered attendees at the National Conference on Operations & Fulfillment earlier this month.

Holody went through the process of transitioning to outsourced provider nine years ago when Spiegel, one of Seta’s key marketing partners, went into bankruptcy. “We faced a loss of 50% of our overall business,” Holody said, “and we needed to cut costs dramatically.”

Seta Corp., which operates Palm Beach Jewelry, consolidated its two call center locations – one in Boca Raton, FL, and one in Cincinnati, OH. But after the consolidation, “We then faced the worry of not having a backup site, particularly a problem with the hurricanes in south Florida,” Holody said. “We looked to secure a backup site with an outsourced provider.”

When Seta decided to outsource, “it was crucial to be sure we captured all of our costs,” Holody said. “We determined that we would save in excess of $500,000 per year and establish our costs at a per transaction rate.”

Seta developed a detailed transition plan and decided to outsource 100%. The company outsourced its call center functions twice before settling on its current provider, Marketing Alternatives.

Seta Corp., which has been around since the mid-1950s, has syndicated partnerships with Swiss Colony, Roaman’s, Metrostyle, Woman Within, Spiegel, Newport News, Amazon, and Overstock. The company ships 1.5 million units per year. Seta has an extensive upsell program that is measured on a per order basis.

The culture of the company you’re doing business with is very important—not just the people handling your calls, Holody said. “There needs to be a comfort level. Not just talking to the call center manager. I can talk to the owner.”

Keys to domestic outsourcing are a provider that handles customer calls with proper care, within established service standards and within acceptable cost/budget standards. Aligning your goals with those of the call center provider is crucial to success, Holody said.

Some merchants think keeping the call center inhouse offers better control and lower costs, and that customers will get better service in-house because outsource companies are unreliable.

But Holody said that for Seta, domestic outsourcing saves money and stabilizes costs. “Customers receive better service than we could provide inhouse,” he added.

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