Customers are increasingly demanding rapid, excellent service from an organisation’s contact centre – and rightfully so, says Louise van Zyl, manager, Technical Centre at Jasco Enterprise.

However, as contact centre managers look to add more communication channels, more capacity, and improve the service to customers, the CFO is looking for a tangible return on investment. While balancing these two stakeholders – as well as a host of other competing interests – many contact centre heads are realising the benefits of a fully outsourced managed services offering in the contact centre.

Moving from a simple break-fix service level agreement (SLA), to a deeper-level managed services contact, essentially means outsourcing every technology and systems aspect of the contact centre (in other words: everything other than employees). It covers technology deployment, integration, maintenance, support, upgrades, and innovation.

This immediately relieves contact centre managers of the headaches associated with the day to day operations. Their role is elevated, as they start adding more strategic input into the organisation, such as:
* Developing deeper customer and market insights
* Closer alignment with business managers and executives throughout the enterprise
* Focusing on innovation in the way the contact centre will operate in the future

With a traditional in-house support model, contact centre infrastructure is maintained by IT staff that usually have a broad ambit of responsibilities across the organisation. They tend to be ‘generalists’ in a technology sense, and are forced to spend the majority of time attending to support issues from every corner of the business – in other words, just “keeping the lights on.”

On the other hand, moving to a managed services offering from the right solution provider unlocks access to teams of specialists that are fully immersed in contact centre technology, trends and innovations. These specialists have the technical ability and the experience to find unique opportunities for the client.

This could be simply using the technology more fully or more efficiently, or introducing new innovations that further enhance the end-customer’s experience of the organisation.

So, by shifting from a lighter-touch SLA arrangement, to a managed services partnership, the client is empowering their outsourced partner with the control they need to elevate the performance of the contact centre. Issues bubbling under the surface – such as capacity constraints for instance – will be picked up by the managed services provider before they become a critical event.

They would have access to real-time reports and updates from network providers and other key players that determine the contact centres’ performance.

The intelligent use of new technology (such as remote support services) and scale economies (like sharing specialists across various clients), enables managed services providers to pass on the cost benefits onto their clients. These cost benefits, while preserving the same quality of service and retaining all the benefits of the outsourcing model, has fuelled the adoption of managed services in contact centres.

Most crucially, managed services entails a longer-term, strategic partnership between the outsourcer and the client. It is within this framework that trust develops, and a fundamentally better business structure emerges.

As the client starts sharing a closer knowledge of its business, the managed services provider is able to tailor systems more appropriately to the client’s needs. Similarly, the client gets access to the wealth of specialised expertise made available by the managed services provider. If done successfully, this is a powerful combination. Together, the two entities start designing the support model of the future.

A flourishing managed services relationship spawns all kinds of new opportunities for proof-of-concepts, new innovations, and various other activities.