The benefits of outsourcing customer service go beyond cost savings — it can help you scale your business while maintaining an excellent customer experience.
Even before the pandemic, companies sought ways to improve their customer experiences. Customers expressed frustration with delays in response time or the lack of personal contact, and that often led to negative reviews on social media and elsewhere about customer interactions that were both damaging to businesses' brands and cost them their customers.
COVID-19 only served to compound customer service issues and further impact the bottom line at a time when budgets were being squeezed. One of the primary ways that businesses have addressed this crisis in customer confidence has been to outsource their customer service departments to experts with a reputation for delivering fantastic customer experiences.
As more companies seek cost-effective solutions for customer service that also meet customer satisfaction criteria, it’s important to weigh the benefits of outsourcing a customer service team against keeping support positions in-house.
In this post, we’ll explain customer service outsourcing, its benefits, and how to make sure you find a provider for outsourcing customer support that best fits your needs.
Customer service outsourcing is a type of business process outsourcing (BPO) that involves delegating one or more time-consuming business processes to an external service provider that has the knowledge, skill set, and technology to serve customers well.
High growth companies, especially those in the ecommerce, health & wellness, and SaaS spaces, often run into the challenge of meeting increasingly complex customer service needs as they scale. Business owners often look to outsource their customer care when their customer volume increases fast, when their business has seasonality, when they want to offer expanded coverage, or if they want to focus their full attention on developing or delivering their core product.
An outsourced customer service team can offer your company many benefits:
Recruiting, onboarding, and training an in-house team is very expensive, and any time you experience employee turnover, those costs are compounded. Outsourcing customer service can offer a better value since many of those costs are offloaded to your provider and built into your contract. Since building specialized teams is all your BPO partner does, you receive the cost-savings benefits of their scale. Outsourcing companies also provide more flexible staffing arrangements that can adjust to seasonal changes so you can adjust the size of your service team accordingly.
Outsourcing service providers may also cover the costs of some of the CX software you need (or have their own proprietary software you can use), saving you the cost of purchasing them for an in-house team.
An excellent customer service experience starts with a quick response. Getting back to customers quickly shows them you value their time.
According to a report from Forrester, “55% of US online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their question; 77% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service.”
Outsourcing allows your company to tap into resources beyond the ones you have in-house to respond to customers promptly. Using the “follow-the-sun” method, companies can answer customer questions 24 hours per day to achieve shorter wait times and offer fast answers.
Plus, because quality BPOs are experts in customer service, you know the associates hired for your program will be extremely competent.They’ll possess core skills, like active listening, empathy, and providing actionable solutions, which will help customers resolve their problems quickly and accurately.
Using an outsource provider can help you provide wider customer service coverage. Here are three ways outsourcing can increase your coverage and improve the experience for your customers.
Whether you run a small business, growing startup, or an established company, there may come a time when your customer requests come faster than your in-house staff can handle.
What might be a big problem for you is simple for an outsourcing company – they’re built for scalability and can easily assign or hire more support team members for your program as needed.
Evenings and weekends are often popular times for customers to reach out to you, especially if your company is B2C in nature. That’s when your customers are off work and have the time to reach out to get support. Unfortunately, staffing during “off hours” is more difficult for in-house support teams to manage.
Outsourcing enables you to offer extended after-hour and weekend channel support by spreading your support coverage to locations outside of your home time zone.
As your business expands, you may see more demand in other countries. But what if your staff lacks the language skills, cultural knowledge, or ability to work in a different time zone? Outsourcing lets you more easily bring on associates that speak multiple languages and are available to help customers in other countries.
It’s important to choose an outsourcing service that best fits your business. Here are some ways to decide what to look for when evaluating providers:
Customers expect you to meet them where they are, so even small businesses should plan to use multiple platforms to interact with customers, including email support, live chat support, phone support, and social media support. Look for an outsourcing service that covers the platforms you want to offer to your customers.
Depending on the size of your business and the volume of your support requests, you may opt for either a multichannel strategy, in which you offer support across multiple channels, or omnichannel support, where support interactions can float seamlessly between channels. Choose an outsourcing provider that can offer the type of support strategy you want to implement.
Some companies will want to partner with an onshore or nearshore partner because they’ll need to collaborate with the service provider during usual work hours. However, an offshore provider can help you offer round-the-clock service since they operate in different time zones, and can offer coverage in additional languages. Offshore providers also generally provide cost savings versus onshore in North America or western Europe.
Whether you choose live support, automated support, or a combination is primarily based on your unique business needs, budget, and customer base. When evaluating an outsourcing provider, make sure they’re equipped to offer the type of support you want to provide to your customers.
Customer service is usually categorized by levels based on complexity. If the support tickets you want to outsource are relatively simple and repeatable (like processing returns or exchanges for an ecommerce store) you may need Tier 1 support. If, however, your customers need more complex problems solved, like technical support troubleshooting, you probably need Tier 2, Tier 3, or Support Engineering help.
Ask your outsourcing provider if they can staff your team to the appropriate level of support for the types of tickets you get from customers. They should also be able to help you determine the proper support tier (or mix of tiers) for your team.
No matter what services you choose to outsource, these key factors can help you make sure you set the partnership up for success.
Leveraging customer support outsourcing is not solely about cutting costs, reducing staff responsibilities, or finding a quick fix for customer experience issues. It’s an effective way to complete tasks your business doesn’t have the capacity for and scale your business while maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction.
It’s important to find a partner who will take the time to work with you and learn about your business before diving in and taking over your service function.
Work with the outsourcing company’s associates so that they understand what your brand represents and how it fits into the customer experience. Take an active role in training the outsourced associates who will work on your contract and make sure brand guidelines are part of that training.
Be sure to ask the provider how they’ll integrate your brand voice into all steps of the customer service experience.
Don’t select an outsourcing company solely based on search results, reviews, or referrals. Rather, evaluate each potential provider based on all of the areas discussed above. Plus, make sure to ask each vendor thoughtful questions, and even ask to talk to existing associates and customers.
There are many benefits of outsourcing customer service, including cost savings and offering high-quality support as your customer volume increases.
No matter what channel, location, type of support, and level of support you need, outsourcing could be a good solution for your business. Just make sure to do your due diligence and thoughtfully evaluate each vendor you talk to in order to make the partnership as effective as possible.
PartnerHero builds outsourcing solutions that work for companies of all sizes. We carefully hire high-quality customer service teams and help set up your tools to deliver customer experiences that still feel in-house. Get in touch with our team to see how PartnerHero can help you scale your business.
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