The Pros And Cons Of Outsourcing Customer Service
Without a doubt, customer support is one of the most important functions within a business. Customers are the lifeline of a company; without them, there is no business. Every call counts, each online chat matters, and all email requests need first-class service quickly.
With customer support, an essential and time-consuming duty, many business leaders outsource to ensure their customers receive excellent care every time. Passing the customer support responsibilities to experienced professionals allows a company to focus on other core functions to increase productivity.
Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing customer support so you can determine if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks for your business.
What is Customer Support Outsourcing
Customer support outsourcing is when a company hires a third-party organization, typically a call center, to handle all of their communication with customers. Outsourcing dates back into the 1950s but is becoming increasingly popular as more business leaders hear about the awesome benefits it brings.
Customer support is one of the top business functions outsourced today. The outsourcing partner acts as part of the team, including modeling the company culture to deliver excellent customer care on behalf of its client.
Customer Support Functions to Outsource
Customer support looks differently than it did years ago. The truth is, consumers have higher expectations when it comes to service and support from a company. With competition high for most businesses, delivering an exceptional customer experience is essential to stay in the game.
The tech-savvy world that we live in has a huge influence on consumers' expectations. The internet is at the fingertips of most individuals at all times of the day or night. When a customer reaches out to a company for support, they want it quickly, efficiently, and through the channel they choose.
Most customer support outsourcing providers offer service through all the common channels, including phone, email, SMS, online or in-app chat, and social media, and typically 24/7. Awesome, right? Your customers receive excellent service when they want it and through the channel they choose.
Customer support outsourcing providers offer inbound and outbound calls. Meaning you can have them contact your customers directly for things such as appointment setting, providing order updates, collecting information, payment processing, or whatever your needs.
Some businesses have their outsourcing partners contact their customers to conduct surveys or gain feedback that they use to improve their processes. The great thing about outsourcing is, most providers are flexible and adjust their services to fit your needs.
Advantages of Outsourcing Customer Support
There are a ton of awesome benefits of outsourcing customer support which is why it’s so popular. Let’s go over all the advantages you can gain from outsourcing customer service.
1. Cost Savings
Business leaders are always looking for ways to reduce costs while maintaining quality. Outsourcing customer support is a cheaper alternative to keeping the functions in-house.
Let’s face it; overhead costs seem to increase every year. With the cost of office space, salaries, benefits, technology, supplies, the numbers just keep growing. The benefit of outsourcing your customer support is that you just pay for the services and don’t have to deal with the behind-the-scenes expenses to get the job done successfully.
You avoid the high cost of recruiting, onboarding, and training customer service agents and managers to oversee the operations. You don’t have to worry about the high costs of keeping your technology and communications up-to-date, as it’s all on the shoulders of the customer support outsourcing provider.
2. Deliver Better Service
Next to cutting costs, the other topic on the minds of business leaders when it comes to customer support is delivering excellent service. A great way to provide exceptional customer care is to outsource it to the pros.
A customer support outsourcing provider specializes in customer service. They have a team of experienced and trained agents who know how to quickly and efficiently satisfy their customers' needs. They solely focus on delivering excellent service so your customers receive the best care.
The agents are also trained on the best practices for handling all types of customers, even the most difficult ones. When handled correctly, an upset customer will become happy and satisfied after an interaction with a friendly and experienced support agent.
Without a doubt, an excellent way to increase revenue organically is to focus on your customers. Happy customers will return and become loyal to your brand when they trust your company to deliver satisfactory products and services.
Some loyal customers become brand advocates doing quite a bit of marketing for your business with referrals, word of mouth, and positive online reviews. So outsource customer support to focus on making your customers happy, and you will see your revenue grow without forking out a ton of dough into marketing.
The secret is, happy customers will spend more money on something when they know they will receive exceptional care.
3. Up-to-Date Technology
As we all know, technology is expensive. Operating a call center means you need technology to make things run smoothly. And if you want to deliver exceptional customer support, you need to always have the latest technology for a smooth process.
When you outsource customer support, the outsourcing provider is responsible for purchasing the high cost of the latest technology and maintaining them – no more putting any of your team members on the task of researching, shopping, and buying the newest technology.
4. Around the Clock Coverage
With consumers calling the shots nowadays, you’ll need to stay competitive with the products and services you deliver. Customers don’t like to wait for service. They want it quickly and efficiently no matter the time of day or night.
When you outsource customer support, you have the awesome advantage of having support agents available 24/7, which your customers will love. If a customer has questions or needs service after your regular business hours, it’s no problem as your call center agents will always be available to help.
Customer support looks a lot different than decades ago. Customers don’t always like to pick up the phone to receive service from a company. Nowadays, consumers expect support through multiple channels, and they expect to use the one they prefer.
Outsourcing customer support to a provider means you’re able to offer multi-channel support easily. Many outsourcing providers deliver customer service through today's common channels, including phone, email, SMS, online or in-app support, and social media.
So no matter how your customers decide to contact your business, your outsourcing customer support agents are available to deliver the excellent service they expect. Let’s not forget, this great multi-channel support is accessible 24/7 when you outsource.
6. Increased Productivity
Customer service takes a lot of time and energy. Outsourcing your customer support functions to a call center means your internal staff can remain focused on the core business duties to increase productivity. No more being pulled away to handle customers’ requests.
When business leaders are not bogged down with customer support issues, they have more time to focus on critical tasks, including improving the bottom line and company growth. So when you outsource your customer support, you increase productivity and improve efficiency.
Disadvantages of Outsourcing Customer Support
Yes, there are a ton of advantages that come with outsourcing customer support. But, there are some drawbacks to be aware of. Let’s go over the disadvantages of outsourcing customer support.
1. Less Control
The reality is when you outsource customer support; you are giving up some control. You are essentially hiring a third party to handle the critical job of servicing your customers. So, you are losing some control over the day-to-day operations and your customer support team.
You’ll have some difficulty monitoring quality assurance, but you are putting it in the hands of your outsourced customer support manager. You will have to trust the manager has your company's best interest in mind with the quality of services delivered.
Releasing control for some business leaders is no easy task. It does take hiring the right company that you can trust to provide excellent customer care, each and every time.
2. Lack of Knowledge
When you outsource customer support, you put your customers in the hands of a third party to answer their questions and provide service. If the outsourcing provider doesn’t do their due diligence to understand your business, its products, and services completely, they will have some difficulty satisfying your customers' needs.
Providing inaccurate data is sure to upset customers. You must be certain the outsourcing customer support team you hire wholly understands all aspects of your business they need to provide the service your customers expect.
You’ll want to be sure you consistently provide updated information to your outsourcing provider so they can always serve your customers accurately and effectively. It’s best to notify your outsourcing customer support team of new products, their features, costs, and benefits before it gets rolled out to the market.
Open lines of communication for questions and concerns are essential to be sure the entire team is on the same page.
3. Culture Barriers
Company culture is the shared values, attitudes, and behaviors of a group. It's what makes your company unique. Customers connect with a business based on the culture, and they get to know a company more by the interactions with them.
The company culture should show through every interaction with a business, including the ad that drew them in, the ordering process, and the after purchase support.
Imagine a company that has a light and fun atmosphere that shows through the silly but creative ad that drew in a prospect. The website was a breeze to navigate, and ordering was painless. Then they call into the company to receive customer service, and the agent is unfriendly, inefficient, and has a long wait.
Just one interaction with a company can change the opinions of its customers. Your customer support team must mimic your company culture to help develop close bonds with customers, so they feel connected to your brand.
If you outsource customer support, you must be sure that your service team has the same company culture or authentically mirrors yours to avoid customer disconnect.
4. Security Risks
There are some security risks when you outsource customer support or any business function. You’ll have to release some private information about your organization and provide access to your customer database.
You’ll want to be sure to hire an outsourcing partner that is reputable that you can trust to protect your business from any security risks. Of course, when you have your customer support in-house, you still have the chance of employee theft of private data.
You must ensure the team you hire, whether in-house or outsourced, is trustworthy to protect your business.
Cost of Outsourcing Customer Support
The cost of outsourcing customer support varies depending on a few things. Some of the factors that go into pricing are the volume of calls and the availability of services needed. Some companies contract a call center for a specific number of agents available and pay per hour or monthly. While other companies just pay per minute for service.
There’s commonly the option to have shared agents or dedicated ones. Shared agents handle customer service for multiple companies, and it’s typically charged by the minute rather than hourly. Companies that choose shared agents are typically ones whose call volume fluctuates at different times of the day or have lower call volumes.
Dedicated agents solely handle customer service for one company. This service is commonly changed by the hour and works best for businesses with higher or consistent call volumes.
Some outsourcing customer support teams can upsell or cross-sell to your customers if you offer multiple products or services. These sales typically come with bonuses or commissions to provide incentives and motivate the team to sell more.
How to Maximize on Outsourcing Customer Support
OK, so you see, there are a lot of advantages to outsourcing customer support with some disadvantages to keep in mind. When you weigh the pros and cons and decide outsourcing customer support is best for your business, you’ll want to be sure it goes well.
Here are some tips for getting the most out of your outsourcing customer support partnership:
1. Choose the Right Business Process Provider
Choosing the right provider is the most important factor when outsourcing customer support. Not all providers are created equal. You’ll want to be sure the outsourcing provider can meet your needs and understand the importance of providing exceptional customer service.
When you interview with a provider, the customer contact center should show genuine interest in your company, needs, and goals. The company should provide data on the technology they use, how they provide service, and how they manage quality control.
The outsourcing provider should provide a dedicated manager to oversee your customer support team to ensure your customers receive first-class service every time. The company should provide transparent pricing for exactly what it will cost to manage your customer service needs.
The outsource customer support provider should model your company's culture and provide value to your business and customers. Find out what type of training they provide their agents, how they handle upset customers, and what processes are in place to tackle issues quickly.
Remember, customer service is a top priority if you want your business to succeed, so it shouldn’t be taken lightly and it's best to put it in the hands of experienced professionals.
If company growth is your plan, you’ll want to choose a partner that can quickly scale with you. Be sure to ask the outsourcing provider if they can add additional agents to your team as your business grows.
2. Define Your Goals
You’ll want to define your goals when it comes to call center services. What expectations do you have? How do you want services provided to your customer base? When do you want support available?
Understanding your needs and goals will help you translate them to your provider to ensure everyone is on the same page and you're satisfied with the service.
3. Over Provide Information and Resources
Your outsourcing customer support agents act as part of your team. So, just as you would provide your in-house employees with all the details, features, benefits, and costs of your products, your outsourcing team needs to know them too.
The more information you provide your outsourcing customer support team, the better they will serve your customers. Providing them with a knowledge base or a list of Q&A’s will help them respond to customer requests accurately and quickly.
Customers want service with as few interactions as possible, with just one preferred. Educating your outsourcing team on your policies and processes will help them provide excellent care to your customers.
4. Schedule Regular Meetings
When you outsource customer support, it's important to schedule regular meetings with your team manager to get updates and feedback. These are times to see if there’s room for improvement and implement any changes needed.
There should be a standard process of how the business process outsourcers provide feedback, whether it be call stats or survey responses. You’ll want to be sure your customers are satisfied with the support provided. That’s what all this is for, right? Total customer satisfaction is the ultimate goal.
5. Open Lines of Communication
When you outsource customer support, it's best to offer open lines of communication on both sides. You want your customer service team to feel comfortable contacting you with any questions, comments, or concerns they have that may interfere with providing top-notch service.
Since many outsourcing customer support providers are located overseas, you’ll find there’s a significant time difference. It’s best to let them know the best times to contact you and the means of communication you prefer and vice versa. You want to be sure you understand how and when you can make contact with your team manager.
What To Do Next
There are many advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing your customer support staff, but the benefits and capabilities outweigh the drawbacks, for most companies. Saving money to improve the bottom line while increasing productivity and delivering exceptional customer care 24/7 through multiple channels (phone support, email support, social media support, chat support) is why many business leaders choose to outsource customer service.
Choosing the right provider is key to a successful outsourcing partnership long-term. Your customers expect first-class service and it takes an experienced team with a customer first mindset to quickly deliver and satisfy their needs. Communicate often with your outsourcing manager to ensure your team has what it takes to provide excellent service with every customer interaction.
Are you ready to outsource customer support to reap the sweet benefits? If so, contact Awesome CX today.