USPS to outsource contact center

The U.S. Postal Service has awarded Convergys Corp. a $255 million contract to outsource USPS' entire customer contact center network.

The contract includes a four-year base period with six one-year renewal options. It has a total potential value of $700 million.

For the Contact Center Network Solution, Convergys agents will provide all the agents, facilities and equipment to support telephone and Web inquiries from Postal Service customers. The facilities will be situated in Denver and Orem, Utah.

Convergys agents will handle general inquires, such as questions about international mailing, supply orders, advertising, e-mail and specialty stamp products.

"We would assume for the United States Postal Service full control of the people, the processes and the technologies of the call center," said Jim Boyce, senior vice president of sales customer management group at Cincinnati-based Convergys.

The contract was announced at the end of last month and the transition is already under way, Boyce said. The company plans to start taking calls in Denver by March and have a total of about 1,200 agents handling calls at both centers by the end of the summer.

The Postal Service previously outsourced portions of the contact center network to TeleTech Holdings Inc. and kept some of the service in-house. The new contract will outsource all the contact center management and support, Boyce said.

"They're going to improve performance and lower costs," he said. "With us, this is what we do. It's our core competence. You're really better off outsourcing these services to a company who only does this and does it better than anyone else."

Boyce said the previous contract was "not as comprehensive" and involved less customer contact management.

The contact center is a central part of the Postal Service's customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and to have a successful CRM strategy, the agency needs seamless interaction among the channels of communication, said Brian Bingham, manager of CRM and customer care research at IDC.

"Call center services are really a core component of CRM, because it's really one of the only direct places where you can interact one-on-one with customers" and get feedback, he said.

Bingham called the contract "robust" with newer technologies and self-service capabilities for facilitating customer care.

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