As a business owner, customer service should be your utmost priority. Whenever customers have complaints or inquiries, you need to address them right away. When you are a startup, it is okay that you’re the one to handle customer service issues. However, as your client base grows, it can become overwhelming to handle all those concerns while managing your business at the same time.
Now, more than ever, you need to focus on delivering high-quality customer service. 90% of Americans use customer service as a factor in deciding whether or not to do business with a company. While price and quality of products is still important for them, you also need to focus on customer service. The #1 reason customers switch brands is because they feel unappreciated.
Customer service is a time-consuming task. If you will be answering inquiries or concerns, you might not have the time to focus on your core tasks. Handling customer concerns is one of the tasks that you should consider outsourcing to a provider. Statistics reveal that customer service is among the most outsourced processes. It is predicted that the outsourced customer care services industry is set to become a $110 billion industry by 2024.
If you are busy growing your business, you won’t be as efficient in providing excellent customer service as much as you once were.. Learning how to outsource customer service is important in order to meet the needs of your clients without sacrificing the other aspects of your business. In this article, we shall cover the following topics:
- Signs You Need To Outsource Customer Service
- Wrong Reasons To Outsource Customer Service
- Benefits of Outsourcing Customer Service
- How To Outsource Customer Service
- What To Look For In A Customer Service Provider
Signs You Need To Outsource Customer Service
Customer service is more important now more than ever. When customers have complaints or need an issue to be addressed, you need to be there for them. You may have in-house staff who can calm down irate customers but they aren’t always there to help customers out. Outsourcing customer service becomes important because it gives you an easy way to “extend” business hours. You may think that it’s an additional expense on your part but outsourcing can become a worthwhile investment in the future. But when does outsourcing make sense for your business?
You’ve fallen behind on your to-do list
As a business owner, you want to be hands-on with handling customer calls, sending emails, and chatting with customers. But eventually customers will flood your website with concerns and this can get in the way of growing your business. When the volume of customer inquiries starts taking up most of your time, it is time to consider customer service outsourcing.
You need to get more competitive
In today’s digital world, customers are looking for a 24/7/365 on-demand shopping experience. 58% of consumers prefer online shopping instead of in-store because they want to shop at their own convenience on their own schedule. A customer service provider can help with after-hours support for basic inquiries and questions.
Outsourcing provides your customers with an “always open” mentality. It will allow customers to contact you whenever it’s convenient to them. By operating 24/7/365, you can address emergencies that your in-house staff can’t attend to during the weekend or after their shifts.
Holidays are coming
The Holiday season is that time of the year when you will be bombarded with customer inquiries. This time of year will be chaotic for your full-time employees who will not be able to handle the increased workload. The outsourced providers will provide your team with additional support. They can handle escalated tickets. High-level inquiries should best be answered by your in-house staff. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Hanukkah, and Christmas are the peak times when you will need to outsource.
Business is good but bandwidth is short
When learning how to outsource customer service, it might be easy for you to think that customer support is a supplemental task. With this mindset, you teach your current team to become product experts, taking turns to address customer concerns and questions. While this can be a fine solution, they may no longer become productive with their assigned tasks.
To help your in-house staff focus on their core functions, outsourcing can be a viable solution. You can scale your business proportionally while maintaining high-quality service.
You want to increase global coverage
Outsourcing customer service makes sense if you want to increase the geographic reach of your business. If you plan to expand to another country or territory, you will need to hire multilingual support employees to communicate with your new customers.
Wrong Reasons For Outsourcing Customer Service
Unfortunately, outsourcing isn’t appropriate for every business. While there are signs that you need to consider outsourcing, there are also situations when outsourcing doesn’t make sense.
Don’t outsource to reduce costs
Yes hiring a per hour provider will be lower than hiring internally. However, hiring small numbers of well-trained outsourced agents isn’t the cheapest option. The very low cost BPO providers are best for companies with much higher volume of repetitive support requests.
Don’t outsource to avoid customer service responsibilities
Outsourcing isn’t a way of handing support to a provider and washing your hands of it. For outsourcing to be successful, it should involve a partnership that requires work on both sides. The two parties should have regular communication, continuous training, quality review, and work with the external provider to make your investment worthwhile.
Don’t outsource for a quick fix
Yes, customer service providers are experts but don’t expect them to provide solutions to all of your problems overnight. It takes time, consistency, and planning to deliver great customer experience. You may need to spend a lot of initial hours training your outsourced team.
Benefits of Outsourcing Customer Service
Customer service outsourcing can take the most mundane tasks off your shoulders so you can focus on business growth and expansion. It will save you several hours of not having to send emails, cold call clients, or answer phone calls from customers. Let us take a look at the benefits of outsourcing to a provider:
With outsourcing, you can have more flexibility in creating support manpower without taking your full-time employees away from their regular tasks. With a flexible team on hand, you don’t have to worry about the seasonal spikes in volume and at the same time don’t want to worry that you will be letting people go.
Access to a large and qualified talent pool
If you are looking for an overseas team, you will have access to a large pool of talent that can speak English at a fraction of the cost than in your own country.
Outsourcing customer service will allow you to set your sights on developing and growing your business. You can focus on other things like innovating your products.
Outsourcing can save you time and money
Being a customer service representative can be a tedious job. It can really be a stressful one. For this reason, employers spend a considerable amount of money for keeping their employees happy and for a high customer satisfaction rating.
Recruiting and managing people can take much of your time. Keeping that in mind while focusing on the growth of your business can be overwhelming. By outsourcing, you can have the time to review and analyze your workflow and improve your standard operating procedure.
utsourcing customer service, will provide you the benefit of being able to address your customer’s needs 24/7. You want to be there to answer questions or solve problems that arise or else they could go somewhere else. When it comes to customer service, you can’t tell them “be back tomorrow” hence the need to have 24/7 operations.
Free from Lawsuit
Every year, many companies and top-level executives deal with lawsuits from their staff. By outsourcing, you free yourself from the legal risk. Everything will be shouldered by the provider.
Reduced healthcare costs
If the team you will outsource is from abroad, you will not be responsible for shouldering the healthcare costs. It will be the responsibility of your outsourcing partner. If the provider broke an arm or leg during their stint with your team, the healthcare costs will be shouldered by your outsourcing partner.
How To Outsource Customer Service
Outsourcing customer service is a great way of keeping customers happy. By outsourcing, you can bolster customer service without having to hire additional staff or invest in new technology. You can utilize the provider’s pool of talents and leverage their technology and best practices. In order for outsourcing to be effective, here are steps on how to go about with outsourcing.
Establish clear goals
In setting goals, consider two things: what you want from yourself and what you want from your partner.
To start off, why are you outsourcing? If your goal is to cut costs, how much do you want to save before entering into a negotiation? If you simply want to free up your employees so they can focus on their tasks, ensure that their roles will be covered by the provider.
If your aim is that customer support is done by trained professionals, focus on that. This should be clearly defined by your top-level management.
Next, define what you want from the outsourcing team. What is the goal of the outsourcing team? Will they provide support to existing clients or try to increase customer retention? What are the services included in the agreement?
Make sure that you check with your legal department for any potential legal and security issues related to customer service outsourcing. There might be some restrictions on your company policies such as how much client information and data can be shared with a third party.
Think about your customer
Who will better know your customers than you do? The way they will interact, the social media channels they use, and their contact preferences—all this will be vital when outsourcing customer service.
Your knowledge of your buyers persona as well as your experience with your customers will help you decide which service to hire and outsource. In a way, you are sharing your voice with your partner so they need to talk to customers like you do.
Choose the right partner
When it comes to outsourcing companies, there are plenty of options to choose from. However, not all of them are created equal. Consider several providers to find the most suitable for your needs. Here are some tips when looking for a suitable partner:
- If you have clients around the world, seek a multilingual 24/7 customer service team
- Look for the best customer service rep with the right skills
- Find out how your partner handles difficult clients
- Determine their capacity to manage high-volume queries and/or in-depth conversations based on your needs
- Look for an outsourcing partner with omnichannel approach (phone calls, online chat, email, social selling)
- Examine their track record and talk to some of their previous clients
When learning how to outsource customer service, keep in mind that cheap is not always best. Quality assurance is more important than picking the lowest priced outsourcing partner.
Train for quality
Outsourcing customer service will also help save potential training costs for in-house staff. Most outsourcing providers already have trained customer service reps with experience handling various situations.
However, you will still need to onboard your new partner. This will help them understand your culture, buyer persona, and the quality standards you have set for your organization.
Once they have been onboarded and you are already working with your chosen partner, you must measure the performance of your support team using some key indicators such as number of tickets, average response time, average resolution time, net promoter scores, and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scores. Evaluating your team should be a continuous process to assure they are on the right track.
Open communication channels
Customer service outsourcing will only be successful if there will be a two-way communication. There should be constant communication about which things are effective, needs improvement, and the areas where more training is requires. Also, you should check the important feedback from the customers.
Understand your voice and tone
Your customers are used to the way you talk to them, whether in text, on the phone, or through marketing. When you outsource, you want customers to sound like your internal staff. You will really need to be clear with them during the onboarding process. If possible, work with your provider to help them really understand your approach.
What To Look For In A Provider
There are different providers out there. How do you know which is the right one to partner with? Here is your outsourcing customer service checklist:
What do you want to achieve by outsourcing customer service? Are you looking for stronger processes? Do you want to minimize hold time or call abandonment rates? Are you looking to improve customer retention? By determining your goals and your desired outcome, it will become easier for you to proceed.
Do you want to outsource to a service provider onshore, near shore, or offshore location? Onshore is located in the same city or state as your company. Near shore providers are located within the same region. Offshore service providers operate from other continents.
If you are looking to cut costs, offshore service providers tend to have the lowest rates while onshore providers are the most expensive. With offshore providers, time difference does not matter since they will work according to your time zone.
When looking into service providers, make sure that their expertise aligns with your customer service. Also, look at their track record in the industry and what they have accomplished so far.
Service Level Agreements
Check the SLAs that the service provider presents. Consult your lawyer or specialist if you don’t understand any of the terms. Make sure that the SLAs are suitable to your business requirements and that the provider is held fully accountable for the project.
Outsourcing will allow you to free up your time so you can focus on your core functions. However, you would still have to coordinate with the service provider to make sure that your agents are performing well. You can have one of your in-house staff act as the coordinator to regularly update both sides.
Metrics serve as an indicator to measure whether your team is meeting performance goals or not. It will also help you identify areas for improvement. This way you can devise ways to optimize processes.