Thinking of outsourcing your customer service operation? If so, then you’re in the right place. Many businesses are contemplating outsourcing their customer service for a variety of reasons. With rapidly advancing technology and an increasingly interconnected world, outsourcing is more viable than ever. Many of the problems that were previously associated with outsourcing are no longer a problem. For example, communicating with your outsourced team is fast and efficient nowadays.
Customer service is a critical component of a thriving business. It’s something you need to get right and get right every time. Customers can be fickle and if they have a bad experience with your company, they won’t hesitate to move on. It’s this unrelenting pressure to offer excellent customer service that drives companies to look at outsourced options. Conversely, it’s also why people are so cautious about outsourcing. Can you really trust another company to care about your customers as much as you do? Can you trust them with one of your most important business operations? These are legitimate questions that businesses grapple with when considering their customer service outsourcing options.
With that in mind, today we’re going to look at the pros and cons of outsourcing customer service as well as the 6 steps you should take if you decide to go ahead with outsourcing. Let’s take a look.
The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Customer Service
- Access to the latest technology – Customer Service outsourcing companies use the latest technology and resources to provide excellent customer service. They use omnichannel platform software, responsive and advanced AI, top of the line phones, and more. Implementing the latest technology yourself can be costly and time-consuming.
- Short response times – Great customer service is like a well-oiled machine. It’s fast and responsive, and just works!
- Highly skilled agents – Outsourcing companies hire the best agents for the job.
- Access to 24/7 service – You can tailor your operation to be available whenever it is needed. You don’t have to worry about the logistics of scaling it up in-house.
- Access to a wider range of skills – Do you want agents who can speak in different languages? What about an agent who can assist with sign language video call customer service? You can often get access to a broader range of skilled agents by outsourcing.
- Less hassle for you – Managing a customer service operation is no easy feat. It can be extremely demanding. You need to manage schedules, resources, KPIs, and more. When you outsource, you no longer have to worry about the day to day running of the contact center. You can focus your attention on other areas instead.
- Scalability – Does your customer service team get more calls during certain months or seasons? Do you want to scale up and down easily when it’s needed? This can be done very easily with an outsourced team. You simply communicate how you want the operation to be scaled and they handle the rest.
- Cost savings – You have greater control over costs when you outsource your customer service. Hiring full-time customer service staff is expensive and can also be financially risky. If you need to scale down your operation at some point, you will be faced with offering redundancy packages or other costly alternatives. Outsourcing also guarantees that you are maximizing the efficiency of your customer service and this also cuts down on costs.
- Loss of control – By handing over responsibility to someone else, you lose some control over the day to day running of your customer service operation. You trust the company with your information and clients.
- Tone of company voice – If your company has a unique approach or tone then it may be difficult to emulate this with an outsourced team. It’s not impossible, but it will take some extra work.
- Communication issues – Communicating with the outsourcing team is paramount. They would be communicating openly and often with your company to offer the best experience to your customers and your business as a whole. If this isn’t handled well then it could cause issues for your customers.
- Privacy – The outsourcing company may get access to sensitive or confidential information about your customers, clients, or business. This needs to be handled carefully.
6 Steps to Follow When Outsourcing Your Customer Service Operation
So, you’ve decided you want to outsource your customer service, what next? Here we’re going to outline the 6 steps you should follow to ensure a successful shift to outsourcing.
1. Establish Your Goals
This step is crucial. You need to sit down and decide exactly what you want from your outsourcing company. What do you want for your company? What do you expect from the outsourcing firm?
Let’s take a look at some common goals for outsourcing and how you should tackle them.
- Saving costs – How much money do you want to save? What areas, in particular, do you think you are spending too much money and by how much do you want to bring this down?
- Access to better technology – Is there something that your competitors offer that you don’t? Do you want to compete with them in this area? Do you want a great self-service chatbot? Or Live Chat? WhatsApp messaging? Outline what technology you want access to and choose firms that can deliver on these.
- A broader range of skills – Is this important to your company? Do you frequently get calls from customers who speak a different language and want to accommodate them? Or is your customer base more local and homogenous? Either is fine, you just need to decide how important this is to your business and whether it will increase the value of your customer service.
- What kind of contract do you want? Do you want it to be fixed-rate or flexible?
Goals for the Outsourcing Firm
- Location – Where should they be based? Do you want agents with an accent native to the country you do business? Do you want to meet the team physically?
- Hours of operation – Can they provide customer service when you need it?
- Leadership – Do you want complete control over your customer service vision? Do you want to decide on scripts, tone, technology? Or are you happy for the outsourced customer service firm to take a more active role in defining your operation? Do you want them to offer advice and guidance or just follow your instructions?
It’s important to talk to key individuals around the business about these goals. You should talk to department heads as well as the legal team.
2. Pick a Team Who Can Match Your Company Voice
The outsourcing team you choose must ultimately be convincing as representatives of your company. They should sound like you and behave like you. Take a look at your customer personas, target audience, and key customer demographic data. What approach works best for your customers? What do your customers like about your customer service approach? Is it your bright and friendly tone? Or is it your resolute professionalism?
Whatever it is, make sure you clearly define what your company’s voice is. Think about how your customers feel when they interact with your business and how you want them to feel in the future.
Getting this to work effectively might take more work with some companies than others. Carefully read reviews when testimonials when choosing your outsourcing company. Additionally, pay attention to the other clients they have. If they provide customer service for governments or big-name companies, they are likely reliable.
3. Choose a Flexible Company
Pick a company that can be flexible about making changes. You don’t want to write up a contract with great intentions only to find it doesn’t work in practice but that you’re now stuck. Sometimes we have ideas that sound great on paper but don’t land well in the real world. This can happen for a variety of reasons and isn’t always related to the capabilities of the company. For example, you might think your customers prefer a certain approach when they don’t. Or you might try to implement Live Chat only to find that your customers barely ever use it.
Choose a Partner That Can Meet Your Goals
You’ve established your goals, now you need to use them to pick your partner. Consider the following:
- If you operate internationally, do they have multi-lingual agents who can communicate with your customer service team?
- Do they have a proven track record of great problem-solving?
- Do they have a proven track record of great dealing with difficult clients?
- Can they handle a high volume of incoming queries?
- Do their agents have the right skills for your business?
- Have they provided customer service for a company in your industry before? This can help tell you whether they are a good fit for your business.
4. Create a Robust Onboarding Process
Outsourcing your customer service team can take a lot of pressure away from you and your business. However, this doesn’t mean you should just hire a team and let them get to work. You need to create a robust onboarding process so you can get the firm and its agents up to speed on your business. They need to have a deep understanding of your company culture, your customers, your tone, and your products and services.
Customers will become frustrated if they start talking to agents who lack knowledge or expertise in your company. They will feel helpless and abandoned. Don’t let this happen.
5. Track Success
You need to define what success looks like for your relationship. Do you want the firm to meet certain KPIs? Do you want them to increase customer satisfaction? If so, how do you want this to be measured?
Decide what metrics you want to measure and then create ways to continually track the success of the customer service outsourcing firm. Do you want them to run regular customer satisfaction surveys?
Decide when they should report key stats to your company. This could be every morning, a few times a week, or once a week. You want to receive regular reports and hold the company accountable for your goals. If something isn’t working how you hoped then you can address this quickly to mitigate any damage.
6. Decide How and When You Will Communicate
There needs to be an open line of communication for your partnership to thrive. Appoint someone who can act as a point of contact in your business. This person or persons should always be available to answer calls and emails from the outsourcing firm.
You should also ask for a contact to be appointed on the other side. If you need to get in touch with the company, who do you call? You should also set expectations for how quickly you expect the company to respond to your communications. Do you expect an answer within 15 minutes? 30 minutes? An hour? Decide what works best for your company.