Customer support is a crucial part of any business, and there’s significant value to making customer encounters as productive and positive as possible.
However, no business is completely stagnant. Changing marketplaces, seasonality, scaling up or down, and many other variables can contribute to increasingly complex customer service needs. One of the ways that businesses can address this issue of changing support needs is to outsource it to experts with a confirmed reputation for delivering great experiences.
Customer service outsourcing is a type of business process outsourcing (BPO) that involves delegating one or more business processes to an external service provider.
Business owners often look to outsource customer care when:
Outsourcing isn’t confined to just a single type of business—depending on their use case, almost every company can potentially benefit from it.
Handing off a part of your business to an external provider can sound scary. However, when you choose a quality outsourcing company, there are more than a few benefits to outsourcing:
When most folks hear “reduced costs”, they assume that customers will also experience reduced quality. That doesn’t have to be the case. It’s about optimizing your business processes and gaining access to already-perfected service solutions.
Finding, hiring, and training in-house customer service representatives can be time-consuming and expensive. And, any time you experience employee turnover, those costs are compounded. With a quality outsourcing solution, many of those costs and obligations are offloaded to your provider and built into your contract. You’ll save on:
Outsourcing service providers may also cover the costs of some of the CX/CS software you need (or have their own proprietary software you can use), saving you the cost of purchasing them yourself.
One of the biggest benefits of outsourcing is that it can help you provide much wider customer service coverage in several different ways:
Covering “off hours” is often difficult for in-house support teams, unless half of your people are night owls.
Evenings, nights, and weekends are popular times for customers to reach out to you, especially if your company is B2C in nature, or if you have a product or service that is being used 24/7 (e.g., MedTech solutions).
Outsourcing enables you to offer extended support by spreading your coverage to locations outside of your time zone.
As your business expands, you may see more demand in other countries or locations. But what if your in-house team lacks the language skills, cultural knowledge, or general ability to work in a different time zone?
Outsourcing lets you bring on associates who speak multiple languages, have diverse backgrounds and experiences, and are available to help customers in other locations.
Being able to provide support in different languages based on your customer base is great. However, if you’re not a native speaker of the languages you want to offer support in, it can be extremely difficult to find and evaluate support representatives.
Representatives who offer support in any given language at an outsourcing company have already been evaluated when it comes to their proficiency and skills.
An excellent customer service experience starts with a quick response. When you have better coverage, your response times are going to improve.
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. Using the “follow-the-sun” method, companies can answer customer questions 24 hours per day to achieve shorter wait times and offer fast answers.
Outsourced support representatives are experienced and knowledgeable about resources, tools, and best practices in the CX space. Many outsourcing companies provide their partners with guidance on things like tooling and strategy, in addition to delivering support operations.
They also usually have a large community of other support representatives, which means they have access to resources and experiences from many different backgrounds.
Having access to already trained and ready-to-go support specialists also allows you to lean on their experiences, making it easier for you to hire in-house in the future. Many of our partners find themselves learning from their outsourced team, for instance.
Especially for companies just starting up, providing good customer service can be tricky. Often, when the need for customer support isn’t great enough yet to hire in-house, support is covered by existing team members.
Even though the “everyone does support” mindset is great for bringing employees closer to customers regardless of their position, it can start eating away at what they should really be focusing on.
Being scrappy is awesome, but at some point, it is not reasonable for non-support people to spend a large chunk of their time on it. It may even start to affect the quality of your product or service. Outsourcing your customer service doesn’t mean completely removing yourself from support, but it does allow you and your team to focus on core responsibilities out of the queue.
Especially if you don’t have someone on your team who already has experience with both hiring and customer service, it can be very hard to evaluate support representatives.
Because quality customer service outsourcing companies are experts in the space, you can rest easy knowing that the representatives provided for your business will be more than competent.
People who work at reputable outsourcing companies are there for a reason. They’ve been screened for you, and you can be sure that they already possess the skills needed to succeed. Obviously, outsourced representatives are only as great as the policies and training provided by the company, so make sure to do your homework well and find the best provider for you.
Regardless of your company size or type, support needs are almost never the same 24/7/365.
Imagine if something happened and your entire business suddenly needed 50% more support coverage. What are your options? Burn out your existing support team? Start scrambling to find, hire, and train additional reps?
Outsourcing allows you access to flexible arrangements that help you adjust your service team to one-time or seasonal changes. Things that can affect what kind and how much support you need at any given time include:
Outsourcing companies can also provide flexibility in regard to which kind of additional support you need. You can hire your full support team outsourced, or use outsourcing as a supplement to your in-house support. With outsourcing, you get exactly the number of people with the skills you need at the present moment—no more, no less.
Generally, outsourcing companies are willing and able to provide insights and reporting for your support metrics. Tracking and reporting on those metrics can be tailored to your specific business and needs.
Metrics that customer service professionals are used to reporting on can include:
Especially if you or your team members are not well versed in support metrics, this provides a great opportunity to learn more about them and how they contribute to your business goals.
Customers expect you to meet them where they are. Even if you’re starting out with only one or a few support channels, a time will come when you need to add more.
Learning how to handle a completely new channel (for example, phone support in addition to email) can be difficult for your existing team, especially if they have no previous experience with it.
Different support channels also require different skill sets—phone support can be much more challenging and stressful than email support, for example.
Outsourcing allows you access to people who are already experts in very specific support channels, and scale your channel coverage without overwhelming your existing team.
There are many benefits of outsourcing customer service, including cost savings and offering high-quality support as your customer service needs change.
Just make sure to do your due diligence and thoughtfully evaluate each provider in order to make the partnership as effective as possible. For more information about how to make sure your outsourcing efforts are successful, check out our guide to quality outsourcing.