Project time frame: September 2015 – April 2019
About the employer: Infomedia d.o.o. Banja Luka (infomedia.ba) develops custom software and internet marketing solutions with the purpose of web sales and package distribution.
The goal of this project was to find small- to medium-sized call center providers that could offer high-quality telesales and customer support services and to arrange and maintain successful business partnerships with them.
Located and arranged strategic business partnerships with more than 30 European and African call center service providers and other companies from the telecommunications industry. Analyzed and revised over 50 contracts with these companies and arranged their signatures.
Trained over 70 call agents from more than 20 countries on the custom telemarketing web application and guided them in reaching and surpassing sales goals for 30+ products.
– Remote teams of call center agents and their team leaders;
– Customer and technical support teams;
– Web developers and web designers;
– Sales specialists.
– Google and LinkedIn search engines for finding call center providers.
– Google Sheets for user and tech support activities.
– Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Acrobat for creating user manuals.
– Skype live calls for training sessions with call center agents.
– Kayako email ticketing for communication with call center managers.
– Inspectlet for monitoring user activities on our call panels.
– LucidChart for making work protocol diagrams and business process flows.
Main activities and responsibilities
– Creating project documentation and defining project activities.
– Research on potential call center partners, leading negotiations and closing contracts.
– Overseeing the system integration between our company and call center partners.
– Training and support to call panel users.
– Analysis, reporting, and improvements of call agents’ performances.
– Invoices and payments.
– Active communication and constant improvements in cooperation.
Creating project documentation and defining project activities
Managing a large number of external service providers on different markets was a completely new business concept for the company. Since I was in the charge of the project, my duty was to set up the project platform, including the creation of the project documentation but also the communication system between external service providers and internal teams of the company.
For this project I made the General protocol for call center project that covers the following:
– creation of the project documentation,
– researching on new partners and getting in touch with them,
– leading negotiations and managing contracts,
– leading system integration processes between the company and its partners,
– analysis and improvements of call agents’ performances,
– managing payments,
– coordinating support activities and maintaining good relations with providers,
– ending project activities and closing projects.
This protocol is built in a way that project activities can be delegated to another project manager, enabling the existing project manager to take over the next project easily.
Research on potential call center partners, leading negotiations and closing contracts
As the business of the company was developing, more sales channels were being added to the portfolio of the company. Eventually, the telephone sale was introduced, so the next challenge was to conduct a business partnership research and find call center providers that could offer telesales services. I used Google search, LinkedIn groups and telemarketing forums for the research.
Contract management was also one of my responsibilities. I was in charge of the initial communication with potential partners and negotiation of the best possible terms for the company. The most important aspect was determining service prices and payment methods, but other conditions such as levels of service, the validity period of the contract, liability, etc. were also negotiated. Possible additional features and specific technologies each call center was able to offer were also discussed.
One of my tasks was also to analyze contracts sent by providers. If some elements of the proposed contract hadn’t been by previously made agreements, I would have pointed them out so they could be corrected and contract forwarded to the signature. My primary responsibility was to negotiate the contract in favor of our company both from the economic and legal aspects.
Overseeing the system integration between our company and call center partners
To be able to even start the integration process, we had to first complete the building and testing of our telemarketing platform we used for inbound and oubound calls (more about that project here).
Each of the providers was using some specific cloud contact center software solution for connecting and managing calls. We needed to integrate their cloud systems with our Phoneorder telesales web application so they can use our customer database to make calls. My role was to communicate with teams from both sides in order to start the service on time and under conditions previously agreed.
Training and support to call panel users
Training of call panel users (call centers’ agents, but also their team leaders and managers) was conducted via Skype calls. I made user manuals so they could consult them before the training. During the training session, I shared my screen, went through panels and explained its functionalities. The training was arranged in a way that users felt free to interrupt me whenever they needed some additional explanations.
Later, through user support, our team has been helping them to solve any difficulties they had in panel usage. Main communication channels were Google docs and email ticketing. My responsibility was to intermediate between teams from both sides to keep the communication clean and to ensure smooth problem-solving.
Analysis, reporting, and improvements of call agents’ performances
After the production started, I monitored call agents’ work to see if they have any difficulties in working on the project and to make sure that they are working properly.
Monthly call reports from call centers were the base for invoicing, so I compared them with data from our own statistical system. It often happened that reports didn’t match for two main reasons: a mistake in call center report or an error/bug in our app. If the reason for the mismatch of reports originated in the Phoneorder (a web app that contains call panels), I would make a specification for the developer to fix it. A big number of fixes in Phoneorder happened after these reports were compared and analyzed. If the reason was call center’s mistake, I would elaborate on the issue and requested an adjusted report.
Invoices and payments
After I confirm to call center manager that their reports match ours, they send us invoices based on those reports. After doing the invoice check, and making sure everything is in order, I would forward them to the accounting sector.
Active communication and constant improvements in cooperation
Constant communication with call center agents was the key to successful cooperation since the goal was to reduce difficulties in working on the project as much as possible. Sometimes, agents were not comfortable enough to ask for help and they would rather keep things as they already are. In some other cases, they simply were not aware that some solution is available. This is why I kept track of user activities in call panels by using site recording tools such as Inspectlet. If I would notice any difficulties in panel usage, I would communicate with users until we solve them.
The other part of the communication was about the possibilities of improving overall project performances. A lot of ideas for the new and improved features of the Phoneorder came from call agents since they were its main users. This helped to increase the sales since we were making call panels and overall interface easier to use. Call agents also had very useful proposals on adjusting the sales text, type of customer data for collecting, etc. Maintaining good relations with call center agents was very important since it motivated them to participate not only in selling the products to end customers, but in the whole sales process, enabling them to play a key role in making our sales strategies more successful.
– General protocol for call center project.
– Protocols for call agents (call panel user manuals):
• Inbound call panel – Protocol for call agents (pdf)
• Outbound call panel – Protocol for call agents (pdf)
– Process flow for starting the cooperation with new call center providers.
– Process flow for ending the cooperation with existing call center providers.
– Process flow for checking call statuses.
Figure 1. Process flow for starting the cooperation with new call center providers
Figure 2. Process flow for ending the cooperation with existing call center providers
Figure 3. Process flow for checking call statuses