OI Blog

Author

Peter Iansek

CEO & Co-Founder

Peter Iansek

Date

Oct 2023
OI Blog
Oct 2023

How to Outsource Customer Service

How to Outsource Customer Service
Peter Iansek

Author

Peter Iansek

CEO & Co-Founder

Table of Contents:

  • What is Customer Service Outsourcing == Customer Service Outsourcing
  • Challenges of Outsourcing Customer Service == Challenges of Outsourcing Customer Service
  • 6 Steps to Successful Customer Support Outsourcing == 6 Steps to Successful Customer Support Outsourcing
  • Outsource Customer Service Successfully == Outsource Customer Service Successfully with Operative Intelligence

What is Customer Service Outsourcing?

Customer service outsourcing is the process of hiring a third-party company or platform to handle customer service tasks on behalf of your business. This support staff will understand the product, platform, and service just like internal staff–so they can help potential and current customers with a range of inquiries. 

Some businesses might outsource help for specific products while others will outsource all of their customer service needs. You may also outsource customer service when expanding into different markets and countries. 

Pros of Outsourcing Customer Support

customer support equipment

1. Reducing Operational Costs

Outsourcing customer support can be a great way to reduce operational costs while ensuring that customers still have access to knowledgeable and helpful customer service representatives. Outsourcing customer support can reduce the resources required to interview, hire, and train internal staff. This means companies can operate with fewer in-house resources and free up valuable time for other tasks.

Businesses can also reduce overhead costs such as rent, salaries, benefits, and office equipment.

2. Improve Support Coverage

Outsourcing customer support means your business can operate across multiple time zones, provide 24/7 access to customers, and handle a wider range of customer inquiries. Businesses can also access a growing pool of talented customer service personnel who can provide localized and knowledgeable insights into different markets. 

You can outsource specialized skill sets that may not exist within your current team. 

3. Scaling Your Company

With reduced resources and specialized staff, outsourcing customer support can make it easier to scale your business. Plus, you can scale up and down their services much more efficiently than when hiring internal staff. 

As your business grows, so will the demand for more efficient ways to deliver outstanding customer service - making outsourcing an increasingly appealing option for businesses looking to succeed in a competitive market.

Challenges of Outsourcing Customer Service

customer support brainstorming

1. Different Communication Styles

When dealing with customer service in a different country or locale, the language barrier and cultural context can impact how the customer service representative communicates and connects with customers. There can be differences between “tone” and “style” of communication that may create misunderstandings.

To ensure successful outsourcing of customer service, organizations should consider the dynamics of international conversation styles, including expectations for politeness, directness, formality, etc., as well as any nuances that come from local culture.

Developing documentation on brand voice, customer service needs, processes and company policies can help ensure any outsourced customer service aligns with organizational communication requirements. 

2. Indirect management

Businesses that choose to outsource customer service give up a certain level of autonomy since they rely on an outside organization to handle their customer service needs. This can make it harder to directly oversee and manage aspects of the support operations due to geographical proximity.

Outsourcing customer service could also lead to delays in responding to customer inquiries due to time zone differences. However, the span of support hours are almost always agreed with the service provider to improve the timeliness of responses.

3. In-house Support Could Be a Better Fit

Outsourcing customer service can bring great benefits, but in some cases, it could be better to keep the support team in-house.

If your tickets are still low volume and you have yet to hire a full-time rep, it may be more beneficial to talk directly with customers rather than bring on a third party from the outset while interactions are still being learned and processes developed. 

Additionally, if your industry is highly regulated (e.g., medical cannabis) or you rely on government grants, outsourcing call center jobs overseas may not be feasible when specific  policies or certifications are required

6 Steps to Successful Customer Support Outsourcing

For businesses looking to outsource their customer support services, here are some best practices to ensure a successful transition. 

1. Establish Clear Goals

When it comes to customer support outsourcing, setting clear goals is essential. This ensures that everyone involved - the customer, the customer service team, and the company - are all on the same page. Here are some key points to keep in mind when setting out these goals:

  • Set Clear Goals for Your Customers: Customers should be given clear expectations of what they can expect from your customer service team. This includes things like response time, professionalism, and problem resolution. Ensure that these standards are included in any contracts or agreements with them. 
  • Set Clear Goals for Your Customer Service Team: Your customer service team should also have clearly defined goals they will strive to meet. These include areas such as ensuring high customer satisfaction scores and meeting agreed-upon timelines for resolving issues. Again, having these goals outlined in any contracts or agreements is essential so there is no room for misunderstanding or confusion. 
  • Set Clear Goals For The Company: Finally, make sure you have clear goals for your company's performance and success when it comes to customer service outsourcing. This can include things like cost reduction while still providing an excellent level of client care. Outlining these objectives upfront will help ensure everyone stays on track throughout the process and achieve positive results together!

2. Choose a Great Customer Service Partner

Finding the right customer service partner is essential for successful customer support outsourcing. It's important to start by clearly stating your customer service needs and what you expect from your partner. 

Research potential partners thoroughly to make sure they have extensive experience in providing excellent customer service experiences related to your sector or industry. Ask to speak to current and previous clients for their perspectives. Also, ensure they can provide you with detailed and comprehensive call center reports.

You should also consider the flexibility of the partnership and its scalability: you’ll want a partner that’s able to adapt and scale up/down quickly as needed–without compromising quality standards or increasing costs drastically. 

3. Create Brand Voice and Tone Guidelines

Creating a brand voice and tone guidelines is key to successful customer support outsourcing. It helps ensure that the customer support teams reflect your brand's unique personality while providing consistent, reliable service.

Start by defining what “voice” and “tone” mean for your business. Voice refers to the words used to convey messages (e.g., formal or informal language). Tone indicates how those messages are conveyed (e.g., friendly or authoritative).

Once you understand those two elements, create examples that demonstrate the proper application of voice and tone in various scenarios. For example, provide a sample conversation between the customer support representative and a customer to illustrate how each should act when engaging with customers. Ensure you include both positive and negative situations so that your team knows how to handle different levels of customer interactions.

Operative Intelligence helps businesses identify what their best in-house representatives do differently based on specific customer inquiries. This information sets a standard for performance to strive towards and aids in training staff.

Finally, ensure the team is aware of these standards by consistently monitoring their performance against them. Provide feedback when necessary and ensure they understand why it's important to maintain a consistent voice and tone when communicating with customers.

4. Implement Open Communication

To ensure successful customer support outsourcing, it is important to implement open communication between the company and its outsourced customer service team. This starts with building out a clear management team that can effectively work together with the outsourced customer service team to ensure everyone understands the expectations of all parties involved. 

Setting up consistent communication channels between the company and its outsourced customer service team is also important. This means having regularly scheduled meetings or calls so that any questions or changes in direction can be discussed promptly. Additionally, establishing open feedback loops allows for receptive collaboration and helps keep everyone on the same page. 

Finally, it is beneficial for companies to set up a clear process for managing information related to customer support activities. This includes tracking customer tickets, maintaining detailed records about customers’ interactions with agents, and providing training materials for new agents. 

Operative Intelligence enables management teams to quickly assess performance and identify which agents need more assistance without needing to listen to every call or send out endless customer surveys. 

Through this data-driven approach, contact center managers can coach with precision and drive significant improvements in terms of handling time and cost. Operative Intelligence provides the insight needed to target and solve any issues that are driving up costs or dragging down performance.

OI agent performance level
Operative Intelligence uncovers the span of agent performance at the inquiry level.

5. Focus on Quality Training

According to research, 70% of customers will feel more loyalty to a company that offers them a personalized experience. This is why it is important to ensure that all customer service staff understand their roles and responsibilities and how best to handle customers' requests and complaints. A clear and concise training process should be established, which includes both theoretical knowledge and practical skills. 

To deliver the highest quality of service to customers, focus must be placed on continual improvement. Customer demands and needs are constantly changing, so providing feedback loops and iterating upon existing processes can help keep up with them. Additionally, any new call center technology should also be incorporated into the training process for staff to stay up-to-date. 

Good communication between stakeholders is also key to quality customer service training. All relevant parties, such as team leaders, trainers, outsourced partners, and customers, should share their insights to create a consistent approach across different channels. This will ensure that each customer receives the same level of care regardless of who they interact with.

6. Measure Success

When measuring success with customer support outsourcing, the most important thing to consider is customer satisfaction. Traditionally, this is measured by surveys and other feedback forms, such as ratings and reviews. 

But these methods usually require time-consuming questionnaires and have low response rates. Survey bias can also occur due to respondents not being truthful or accurate in their answers. 

Operative Intelligence addresses all of these challenges for businesses, BPOs, and contact centers. Operative Intelligence can determine CSAT for 100% of interactions without surveys, simply using the language used by customers in their interactions. Operative Intelligence automatically transforms an organization's existing call or contact center data into real-world, actionable insights.

 It pulls macro and micro cost insights that reveal: 

  • Customer pain points and what they cost the business
  • What causes increases in handle time and cost and how to reduce it
  • Opportunities for engineering teams to improve the product 
  • The return on investment (ROI) of potential changes 
  • Which inquiries have the highest and lowest Customer Satisfaction
  • Where to train frontline employees to improve Customer Satisfaction

Outsource Customer Service Successfully with Operative Intelligence

Operative Intelligence has extensive experience working with customer service centers. The software provides a set of targeted, actionable customer service insights. These help customer service centers and their clients collectively focus on the highest-impact opportunities to improve customer service every day.

Operative Intelligence ensures: 

  • Increased collaboration and problem-solving capabilities
  • Improved agent and team effectiveness
  • Greater visibility into agent practices and results 
  • More real-time data 
  • Stronger partnership and collaboration with the customer service center

Furthermore, Operative Intelligence analyzes 100% of inbound interactions and shares the root causes of overall inquiries using direct phrases from customer speech. It shows every inquiry's volume, cost, and sentiment, so customer service managers know which changes will drive the highest impact improvements in their customer experience and operational and frontline performance.

Ready to drive changes at all levels of your organization? 

Book a demo with Operative Intelligence today.

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