Outsourcing customer support is an effective way to manage your customer service system, but it can be a double-edged sword.
Customer support is the backbone of a lasting relationship between you and your customers (current and potential). Your brand can flourish or perish by your customer support system. In fact, a poor customer service experience is one of the top reasons consumers (B2B and B2C) switch brands, providers, or partners. Check out these numbers before we explore how outsourcing customer support can be beneficial.
- 90% of Americans use customer service as a factor in deciding whether or not to do business with a company.
- 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service.
- 49% of American consumers switched companies last year due to poor customer service.
- 78% of customers have backed out of a purchase due to a poor customer experience.
Not to mention that customer service is the #1 factor influencing a buyer’s trust in a vendor nowadays, which paves the way for a boost in retention, loyalty, a better user experience, and long-term gain.
To make the best out of a relationship with a customer support partner, you need to make sure you consider every aspect of this relationship.
Find a Customer Service Provider with Experience and Expertise
Before taking a dive into what to consider when outsourcing customer support experience, there are a few things you need to take into consideration when you start researching for your perfect partner. Beyond business goals, think about selecting a partner that understands the importance of customer support and has experience and expertise in your industry.
Outsourced agencies and providers tend to have specific expertise. Most likely, they have spent time and other resources toward improving their service, and keeping up with industry standards and trends. Pick a provider that has been able to perfect their craft, strategy, and processes to support your customers.
An expert and experienced customer service agency allows you to focus on what your brand does best while they implement the best approach for your company and customer base.
Additionally, make sure you find a vendor that has the technical command required to efficiently attend to the needs of your specific vertical or niche. For example, Simplr specializes in support for e-commerce companies, Ameridial provides customer service for businesses in the retail and automotive industries, while Cloudtask provides customer support and other services primarily to SaaS companies and startups in industries like e-commerce, healthcare, manufacturing, and finance.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s go through the most important factors to consider when outsourcing customer support.
1. Quality Control Beyond Cost Reduction
According to 68% of customers, a kind and respectful representative is the key ingredient to outstanding customer service. This fact alone should be enough to emphasize how important it is to know what quality control processes are followed by your outsourced customer service provider.
Your provider’s management structure is one of the key variations to take into consideration. Some management structures are weak and provide the minimum amount possible of supervision and guidance. However, if you partner up with a firm that is truly working as a partner and not a mere provider, you’re much more likely to get access to a full support department with tiered management layers to accomplish quality control.
One of the main objectives of hiring an outsourced customer support agency is to minimize operational costs and other expenses. Instead of building the team and the system internally, your outsourced partner absorbs the following costs/processes:
- Employee turnover
- Call center infrastructure
- Office space
Outstanding customer support providers will invest top resources to perfecting all these processes in a way tailored to your needs that includes an emphasis on having the latest and greatest service, software, and AI to streamline processes and improve the functionality of your customer database.
2. Pricing and Integration
The customer service outsourcing market offers different pricing structures for different industries, verticals, and even companies. The most common ways to price services for call centers, for example, are:
With this pricing model, you get the advantage of paying for what you use whether it is per resolution or per minute. This model may bring up soaring prices when volume fluctuates. Agents working this way are often more focused on volume instead of quality.
Pay time up-front
In this model, you pay for a set amount of time in advance. It’s advantageous when you face spikes in volume and you can get discounts for longer time periods. However, you might run into high overage fees or waste your money if you don’t use up all the time you paid for.
Flat fee per agent
Here you pay per agent working for you. This option incentivizes service quality because request amount is unlimited. On the other hand, if the volume goes down you still pay the same and a long-term contract is many times required.
The pricing model that’s right for you depends on your needs regarding volume, customer needs, goals, and objectives. But it also depends on the partner you select because you might be able to customize your service and hire additional services like channel management, lead generation, etc.
While outsourcing a call center for example, can be more cost effective, price alone is not enough for you to select a partner for your outsourced needs. Your goal is to find a firm that is more than just a provider. You need to find a true partner that will become an extension of your company.
Integration is key when selecting a partner. This factor is even more crucial if your outsourced team needs to work together with your internal team. Being able to align your processes and workflows will make it easier to reach your goals and accomplish your objectives. Plus, your customers will enjoy a consistent experience at every point of contact.
3. Data collection and security
Security and confidentiality are among the top concerns when working with an outsourced customer service provider. Your outsourced partner will be collecting tons of data from your customers. Go through the fine print and all details with your prospective partner in order to make sure you’re getting all the value possible from the data collected.
Avoid all sorts of uncertainties around data security and ownership of the data by clarifying the details regarding these aspects before the work starts.
4. Culture Alignment, Language, and Talent
Culture alignment has become one of the most important factors to consider. Having an outsourced customer support partner that is aligned with your work culture is a highly decisive factor regarding success in your new partnership.
Work environment, workflows, working rules/regulations, communication styles, relationship/team building, and problem-solving are key aspects to keep in mind regarding cultural alignment and success.
A sure way to get a taste for your partner’s culture is to have a conversation with their leadership and management team. This will give you a good idea of what’s important to them and how their culture and environment will fuse with yours.
Find out their outlook on the following areas and others that are of specific interest to you to improve performance and boost your KPIs.
The most common reason to outsource is to reduce cost. It’s true that you’ll no longer have to pay for fixed costs (building, computers, phones, etc.) and personnel costs. However, you are still making an investment in a service that needs to help you reach your business goals.
That’s why allocating a budget to an outsourced partner is easier when that partner is in line with your culture and goals, but also is committed to providing and managing ongoing training, data collection and insights, innovation, and general management of your project.
Investing the time to work with your outsourced partner in setting clear goals, objectives, and KPIs also helps to allocate a budget that is fair, transparent and managed according to the goals. This will also allow you to monitor progress and find opportunities to improve along the way.
Outsourcing customer support and service need to be approached as if you were building a new partnership because you actually are. Even if you’re outsourcing mainly to cut costs, take into account all other aspects required to make the partnership a success for you as the hiring brand, for your partner as the providing brand, and for your customers as the main beneficiaries of this relationship.
Do your research, build a relationship, and make sure you’re in line with your customer service partner in order to achieve results and build a long-lasting partnership.