What size team do you specialize in?
Why: Large BPOs may tell you that they take good care of your small team, but the reality is that if they are large and you are small, your small team will be managed by the most inexperienced person in the company, and you’ll likely be neglected. Conversely, small BPOs have no business entering into sales discussions with clients looking to on-board larger teams of 25 or more people. Finding the right sized BPO is of critical importance to your success.
Do you offer healthcare to your associates? What plan do you offer? What other benefits do you offer?
Why: Competition for talent is fierce, and retention of employees is key to your success. Healthcare insurance and other benefits are key to getting the best associates. The best healthcare plans in the Philippines, in order of quality, are: MaxiCare, Intellicare, and Medicard. In addition to healthcare, Other common benefits for associates are:
- Hospitalization insurance (normal: php 150,000)
- Life insurance (normal: php 200,000)
- Paid days off (normal: 20 days per year)
- Various allowances (normal: php 4500/month)
- Extra pay for working nights (minimum 10%)
Do you have executives in my home country?
Why: When things go wrong (hopefully not horribly so) it’s good to have a familiar contact in your home country to discuss it with.
May I speak to the owner of the company before the sale? After the sale?
Why: Using BPO services can be stressful. The ability to talk to the owner of your BPO from time to time is important. Make sure s/he will make time for you.
May I visit your offices?
Why: Some “BPOs” utilize a loose network of work-at-home employees. Others have offices, but pack their employees like sardines to save money. Some offices skimp on airconditioning, which makes it difficult for employees to concentrate on important tasks. The best way to get a feel for this, of course, is to visit. The second best way is a Skype video call with a video walk-around the office.
How many seats do you have open right now?
Why: One of the top expenses for a BPO is rent, and some BPOs run much leaner than others. Should you need a certain number of seats, you don’t want to have to wait until the BPO finds more space to lease, so that they will have a home for your workers.
Will I have my own agents, or will I need to share my agents with other companies?
Why: Some call centers share employees across various clients. This may not necessarily be a bad thing for you – in fact it may improve your coverage, but you should agree upon the arrangement ahead of time so that there are no misunderstandings.
How many agents do you have per square meter of office space?
Why: The better BPOs will have no more than 1 worker for 5 square meters (16 sq feet) of office space.
Have you disclosed ALL fees? Are there hidden charges that may surprise us later?
Why: Good BPOs charge an hourly rate, plain and simple, with $.01 or $.02 extra per minute of voice. Watch out for hidden extras!
What city is your BPO in, and why?
Why: This is important because at some point, you’ll likely want to visit. For the Philippines, the major BPOs are located in Makati, the business district of Manila. Ortigas and Quezon City are districts of Manila that are also common, but they can be 2-4 hours from the Manila airport. 2nd tier Philippine cities are Cebu and Davao, and they are harder to get to. To go to these cities, you’ll need to fly to Manila and then take another plane. Anything other than Manila, Cebu, and Davao, and you’re in a 3rd tier city, and you can expect complications.
What city will my employees be located?
Why: Some Philippine BPOs have “showplace” call centers in Makati, but then place your team in a second- or third-tier city. This may be problematic for you because visiting 2nd or 3rd tier cities can be difficult.