How to Outsource Customer Service Without Sacrificing Quality
Everyone loves to hate customer service. It can be extremely time-consuming, but it’s one of the few chances you get to speak directly to your customer. Outsourcing to a trusted customer service partner is a great way to keep your customers close, while keeping your team focused on more pressing matters. Before you outsource customer service, check out the pros and cons, as well as a few tips for a seamless transition.
In-House vs. Outsourced Customer Service
There are pros and cons to every business decision, and outsourcing customer service is no different. Here are some of the key pros and cons to keep in mind.
In-House Customer Service
- Allows for full quality control
- Provides confidence of customer privacy and security
- Can be time-consuming and costly
- May cause staffing problems during busy seasons
- Can slow productivity due to task switching
- May create inefficiencies during off-seasons
Outsourced Customer Service
- Can lower overall operational costs and boost efficiency
- Creates a more agile team
- Requires less time spent hiring
- Provides less instability based on seasonality
- Scales quickly to accommodate rapid growth
- May create language barriers (if partnering internationally)
- Increases the potential for privacy concerns
How To Outsource Customer Service the Right Way
Outsourcing customer service is easy. But outsourcing it in a way that benefits your company and your team can be tricky. Keep these guidelines in mind if you decide to outsource customer service.
Choose Your Partner Carefully
It can be tempting to go with the first customer service partner you meet. But taking time to interview, vet, and test potential partners now will save you time, money, and effort in the long run.
When deciding how to outsource customer service, consider asking your potential partners questions like:
- How long have you been in business?
- How many accounts do you manage? How do I compare to your other clients?
- How do you staff? How do you measure agent performance?
- What programs do you use? Do they integrate with my existing business systems?
- How do you handle seasonality of business?
- Do you offer other business services, like warehousing or fulfillment?
- What are your data privacy and security protocols for customer data?
Take some time to develop a list of questions, and don’t be afraid to bring one of your current customer service representatives along to help vet the team they’ll be training.
Onboard Your External Team
It’s crucial that you train and onboard your new customer service provider just like you would a new internal team member. Explain your brand and messaging. Describe your audience, their needs and desires, and their current pain points. Discuss how your new partnership can eliminate these pain points and what your external team is responsible for.
It’s also a good idea to provide formal documentation at this point about your company, audience, and brand. This way you won’t have to rely on word of mouth when your customer service partner hires someone new. By onboarding your customer service team as you would a new team member, you can create a smooth transition for everyone involved.
Create Goals and Measure Your Success
Creating goals and taking the time to report back on them will help you know if outsourcing is worthwhile. Here are some of the metrics you might ask your customer service partner to report back on daily, weekly, or monthly:
- Number of support tickets entered
- Average reply time
- Time from ticket entry to resolution
- Percentage of satisfied customers
- Number of negative vs. positive reviews
By setting goals with your customer service partner, you’ll both understand your responsibilities and have something to work toward as a team.
If you wouldn’t put a customer on hold listening to elevator music for an hour, your customer service provider shouldn’t either. Don’t be afraid to set reasonable expectations for the way you want your customers to be treated. Knowing what to expect will provide consistency for customers across your brand and messaging.
Above All Else: Communicate
You can’t fix a problem until you know what’s wrong. Open, honest, and kind communication is key to any good partnership, and customer service is no different. Keep in touch with your customer service partner through weekly emails, calls, or meetings. You’ll be notified of changes sooner and will be able to express concerns before they become significant problems.