One of the most common hesitations among companies and government agencies that are thinking about outsourcing the customer service process is a concern they’ll be abdicating the decision-making process necessary to resolve a customer’s problem or request. That’s especially true for government agencies that depend upon federal or state funding, which carries strict rules about decision-making, and who performs functions that affect tax amounts, penalties, and audits within a program.
It’s an understandable concern. Take Netfor and the partners for whom we provide customer service support. Our agents are trained as an extension of your customer service, informed by your best practices in order to develop a clear understanding of customer needs. Outsourced customer service for government agencies can respond to anyway a customer might reach out, including:
- Phone calls
- Online Chat
The resolution of those contacts depends upon the situations and the information our team gathers. The vast majority of the time, we’re able to resolve the matter during that first contact based on the parameters designed by our clients. If not, there’s a well-defined process for escalating the problem or request.
On one level, that’s straightforward, but it does beg the question: by following this well-defined process, are Netfor agents making decisions and therefore violating established rules?
Outsourced customer service trained for YOUR decision-making parameters
The short answer is no. The decision is inherent in the parameters established by our clients. They define the specific course of action, protocols, and workflows that need to be taken based upon the information gathered by our agents. Netfor’s regimented Knowledge Management practices ensure all workflow parameter adds or changes are approved by the proper legal authorities within our client’s organization prior to being placed into production. In essence, our clients have instructed us, “If a caller tells you A, you take action #1. If a caller instead tells you B, you take action #2.” There’s no uncertainty or wiggle room, and more importantly, absolutely no judgments being made by our agents.
We can explore the question more deeply by examining the meaning of a decision. If you open the dictionary, you’ll find a decision defined as a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration. Decisions require multiple points of input and a certain degree of subjectivity on the part of the decision-maker. Netfor’s agents are instead processing a series of answers to binary questions that involve zero consideration or subjectivity. In fact, if there is any question about how to best handle the needs of a caller, the agent will immediately escalate the request, which usually involves forwarding it to an agency employee. Any decision-making that has to occur is performed by our client, not by us.
Decisions owned internally + Time saved with external partners = Win-Win
So if the Netfor agents aren’t making decisions, what exactly are they doing? Using simple terms, our agents are giving time back to the agency’s staff. We free the agency’s staff from handling the vast majority of calls, emails, and chats that have simple, straightforward resolutions. Without our support, those contacts would be a constant source of interruptions interfering with the agency’s productivity. Instead of devoting time and energy to every single problem or request, the staff only needs to focus on those that require consideration and judgment — in other words, they handle only those requests that require an informed decision.
Through the structure of our business process outsourcing (BPO), Netfor can handle all of the processes that do not require any subjectivity or application of the relevant law. When our team encounters a problem or request that isn’t clear-cut and doesn’t fit into the workflows our clients have established, they hand it off to the subject matter experts — the people who have the knowledge and authority to make decisions.
Plus, Netfor’s structured process approach further enhances the efficiency of the agency’s internal operations by gathering the information the agency’s staff needs to make those decisions. Before a problem or request is escalated, our agent has already gathered the relevant information and passes that along to the agency employee. When the agency’s decision-maker picks up the call (or ticket, email, or chat), they already have all or most of the information they’ll need to reach a resolution or conclusion, so their conversation with the caller may be measured in seconds instead of minutes.
There’s yet another benefit. The caller is happier because their problem or request can be resolved more quickly, and they’re not forced to repeat everything they already told Netfor’s agent. Instead of feeling like they’re dealing with layers of bureaucracy, they come away with the impression the agency has a genuine desire to solve their problem more thoughtfully and efficiently.
Getting started with Customer Services outsourcing for Government Agencies
So Netfor’s approach to BPO clearly doesn’t interfere with federal or state rules that demand agencies make certain decisions. Our team resolves problems and requests in the manner our agency clients specifically mandate, and when the situation makes that impossible to achieve, we turn it over to the real decision-makers who have the knowledge and power to handle whatever needs to happen.
The agency can accomplish more with less internal staff, so that staff isn’t distracted by an endless stream of “what time do you open on Tuesday?” calls, and the callers are impressed at the care, concern, and speed with which their needs are met. It’s an approach that makes the most efficient and cost-effective use of the agency’s funding and budget, whether that money comes from local taxpayers or a federal program.
Looking to save time for your government organization? Outsourcing your customer call center and other services can help lower overhead costs, simplify staffing needs and create the focus your team needs to excel at what they do best. Check out our call center and help desk solutions to see if Netfor could be a good fit for your outsourcing needs.