The benefits of outsourcing customer service go beyond cost savings — it can help you scale your business while maintaining an excellent customer experience.
Customer service and support are a crucial part of any business, regardless of size or type. There’s significant value to making customer encounters as productive and positive as possible.
However, no business is ever completely stagnant. Changing marketplaces, seasonality, scaling up or down, evolving products and services, and many other expected or unexpected variables can contribute to increasingly complex and constantly changing customer service needs.
One of the primary ways that businesses can address the issue of rapidly changing needs in customer service is to outsource it to experts with a confirmed reputation for delivering great experiences.
Outsourcing customer service is not about cutting corners. It’s about finding a solution that helps fully meet customer needs regardless of the current business environment or situation.
In this post, we’ll briefly explain what customer service outsourcing is and which benefits you can expect to see from choosing to outsource.
Customer service outsourcing is a type of business process outsourcing (BPO) that involves delegating one or more business processes to an external service provider that has the existing knowledge, skill sets, and technology to serve customers well.
Business owners often look to outsource their customer care when:
Outsourcing options are not confined to just small businesses or big ones—depending on their use case, almost every business can potentially benefit from outsourcing.
Handing off a (very important) part of your business to an external provider can sound scary at first, especially if you have no previous experience with doing so.
When you think it through and choose a quality outsourcing company, there are more than a few benefits to outsourcing:
When most folks hear “reduced costs”, they assume it’s by cutting corners and using the cheapest service available. The assumption is that, with these reduced costs, 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 optimized service solutions.
Finding, hiring, training, and maintaining in-house customer service representatives can be very 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 for an in-house team.
Essentially, outsourcing eliminates many fixed costs that come with having an in-house team. Further, because outsourcing is more flexible than hiring in-house, you can save money by paying only for your very specific needs.
Additionally, if you’re working with a quality outsourcing company, they may also help you achieve business goals. Quality customer service means better results in metrics such as resolution time, customer satisfaction score (CSAT), customer retention, etc. Improvement in those core areas will lead to better business outcomes, which also reduces overall costs.
Probably 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 very difficult for in-house support teams to hire for and manage effectively, unless half of your team are full-fledged night owls.
Evenings, nights, and weekends are often 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 after-hour and weekend 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 that speak multiple languages, have more 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.
Better general coverage brings us to…
An excellent customer service experience starts with a quick response. When you have better coverage, your response times are most likely 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.
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.
Customer service outsourcing companies employ the best experts in the space. Outsourced support representatives are very experienced and knowledgeable about resources, tools, and best practices in the CX space. Many outsourcing companies can provide their partners with guidance on things like tooling and strategy, in addition to delivering support operations.
They also have a large community of other support representatives around them, which means they are constantly learning, and have access to resources and experiences from many different backgrounds and business types.
For example, at PartnerHero, we hold monthly peer group meetings, where associates can learn from each other and exchange knowledge and ideas.
Having access to already trained and ready-to-go support specialists also allows you to learn from them and their experiences, making it easier for you to hire in-house in the future if needed. Many of our partners find themselves learning from their outsourced team, for instance.
Especially for small companies just starting up, providing good customer service can be tricky in many ways. Often, when the need for customer support isn’t great enough yet to hire in-house, support is covered by existing team members such as engineers or founders.
Even though the “everyone does support every now and then” mindset is great for bringing all employees closer to customers regardless of their position, it can start eating away at what they’re really meant to 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 doing it. It may even start to affect the quality of your product or services.
Outsourcing your customer service doesn’t mean completely removing yourself from the support process, but it does allow you and your team members 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 reps or even know what they need to possess in order to be able to provide quality service.
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 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.
People who work at reputable outsourcing companies are there for a reason. They’ve been screened for you, and you can be sure of their competence.
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? Or stay where you are, and risk upsetting customers by not providing the support they need?
Another great benefit of outsourcing is having access to extremely 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. Do you need more front line support or a team leader?
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 great 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 very well versed in customer service and support metrics, this provides a great opportunity to learn more about them and how they contribute to your general business goals.
Outsourcing gives you access to talent around the world and from many different backgrounds.
In addition to adding flexibility to your own business, you’ll also guarantee the well-being of the representatives you hire.
If your business model needs to change or something unexpected happens, you won’t have to worry about going through hiring and training in-house just to have to let people go in case you’re forced to suddenly scale down.
Layoffs are never ideal—if an outsourcer’s team needs to shrink, they can usually shift their associates to another program, rather than leaving them without work.
Also, quality outsourcing companies take good care of their employees—if you choose the right provider, you can be sure that your representatives are happy and productive.
Customers expect you to meet them where they are. Even if you’re starting out with only one or a few support channels, there will probably come a time when you need to add more channels to your existing ones.
Learning how to handle a completely new channel (for example, phone support in addition to email) can be time-consuming and difficult for your existing support 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 volume increases.
No matter what channel, location, type of support, or 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 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.