How to get the commercial model right for call centres?

Companies generally outsource their work when they want to focus on their core activities and want somebody else to work on their non core activities. The need for a good call centre also arises when the companies look out for cutting down the cost, when they have shortage of specialised skills and they have a challenge of managing a large work force. While getting into an agreement with a call centre what is important is the working relationship with the partnering firm. A good commercial model should also be in place so that both the vendor and the client can work on a collaborative approach.

For setting up a good commercial model what is necessary is to break the construct into basic components. The components can be broken into:

Key performance indicators,

  • Targets
  • Incentives &
  • Unit rate

There is no right and scientific way of fixing a commercial model, but while fixing a model the companies should look into these factors. They are:

  • The strategic priorities of the company
  • The relationship with the service provider
  • The degree of collaboration with the provider
  • Maturity of the company dealing with call centre operations &
  • Ability to measure performance

The commercial model should be made in such a way that it balances all the three strategic dimensions of a company i.e. cost, revenue and service. A balance has to be struck between the nature of different call types and the corporate priorities. What is really important in creating a good commercial construct is that creation of multiple commercial models should be avoided. Managers should work out the key performance indicators and then work on the model.

Operational Key performance indicators should be distinguished from strategic key performance indicators. The KPI’s should be kept as simple as possible and overlapping of KPI’s should be avoided as it may confuse the service provider and result in high administration cost. This may also affect the performance of call centre adversely. Budgeting to penalize and setting of unachievable targets should be avoided at any cost as this may result in demoralizing the service provider.

While setting up a commercial model it is very important to follow a conservative model if the relationship with the call centre is new. New models can be tried once the trust is established and the relationship between the outsourcer and the service provider has matured. What is important for any outsourcing model to succeed is a good service provider-client relationship. Both the parties should work closely on creating the right provider engagement model and work on a long term commitment.

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