By: Fraser Wilson, Global Head of Marketing, AnswerConnect
With the post-pandemic shift in work culture, outsourcing is set to fill the gap for businesses wishing to embrace the ‘working from anywhere’ model.
While some companies look to technology and automated answering to handle customer service, customers have been left feeling unsatisfied and overlooked with processes that don’t resolve problems or queries. This is where the question of outsourcing comes in; is engaging third parties to provide customer service the solution?
What do we mean by outsourcing customer service?
Customer service is critical to the success and every day running of your business. From troubleshooting to product enquiries, feedback to complaints, customer support encompasses a range of tasks. But, as your business grows, so do the challenges of tracking, managing and responding to your customer base. The importance of consistently professional customer service cannot be underestimated; when done right it can seriously boost a company’s bottom line and help maintain a reputable name. But when mismanaged, your customer service can cost you projects, customers and even your reputation.
Outsourced customer service is the process of transferring management of customer-facing communication channels to a third-party service provider like AnswerConnect. Despite an industry-wide push to replace humans with bots and AI, the pandemic has proven how much consumers still value real human interaction. This push for real human engagement can be delivered via the right outsourcing partner. Working with outside contractors – or outsourcing customer service – offers a unique solution. Not only does it allow companies to conduct business more efficiently and effectively, it’s more cost-effective than hiring in-house.
Although it sounds like a simple solution, over the years, outsourcing has been negatively associated with lay-offs, diminished corporate responsibility and ambiguous work ethics. However, in certain cases outsourcing is the best option — especially for SMEs looking to grow at scale without the added costs of hiring and training a dedicated customer service team. Today, third-party customer service teams aim to act as an extension of your business, communicating with customers the same way internal employees would.
Customer service: What are the benefits of outsourcing?
When properly utilised, outsourcing can enable you to effectively streamline your operations and maximise your time. By outsourcing elements of your business, including customer service, you can strategically refocus your resources and build business continuity.
Round the clock customer support
It’s 2021, and your customers expect you to respond instantly. The quality and availability of the customer service you offer has a direct effect on how many people return to – or stay with – your business. By outsourcing your customer service, the option of customers being able to reach you 24/7, 365 days a year becomes available, increasing loyalty and trust in your business.
Improved resource management and cost savings
Outsourcing your customer service has major cost benefits. If you don’t have the budget to hire and onboard a full customer support team, bringing in dedicated external support can be a considerably cheaper solution. Hiring remote assistance means you can avoid the need for additional office space. Instead, you can direct your spending to other areas of the business.
In addition to cost savings, outsourcing can relieve pressure from your internal team and allow them to focus on their individual role and core business activity. With customer engagement covered by a third-party, you can refocus your team on converting leads and streamlining your internal processes.
Increased flexibility and diversity
Outsourcing your customer support can also offer greater flexibility to your business. With your customer support handled out-of-office, you may be able to reconsider your office space size and even location.
It can provide access to specialist expertise, particularly in new markets. For example, you may be looking to scale your business across different locations. By outsourcing to a company based in these new areas, your customer service agents will be able to speak to your new customers fluently in their chosen language.
The ability to scale up. Quickly
For startups and small, seasonal businesses, dealing with fluctuations in demand can be a major challenge. Outsourcing allows you to scale your customer service capacity up and down according to need far faster than hiring a dedicated in-house team.
Things to consider before outsourcing your customer service
Like every business tactic, outsourcing comes with a number of things to consider before investing.
Finding the right ‘voice’ for your brand
Customers have chosen your business for a reason. They trust your brand and the product or service you provide. It’s essential to choose a third-party capable of accurately representing your business to your customers. With the right outsourcing solution, you can maintain a cohesive connection between your brand and customers and focus on growing your business.
It’s essential that agents portray an accurate representation of your company values with every interaction. Trials allow you to get a sense of how the outsourcing partner will work for your brand, with the option to scale once in place.
Miscommunication across departments
Communication between customer service teams and the rest of your business is vital, however this can be difficult to manage when outsourcing your customer service. Having clear processes in place can help with this, ensuring there is no miscommunication between in-house employees and external support teams.
Likewise, customer feedback plays a huge part in business growth. When you use an external vendor, you’re putting this vital means of customer communication in their hands. Streamlined feedback procedures and processes should be implemented from the beginning to ensure comments are passed onto the internal team.
Outsourcing your customer service and support doesn’t have to mean alienating customers, cutting team members or damaging your brand identity. When used correctly, it’s simply a smart way to build flexibility and strength into your business model.
Fraser Wilson has accrued over 10 years’ experience working within small, medium and large businesses. He is currently Global Head of Marketing for AnswerConnect; supporting the company in their provision of 24/7 live answering services to businesses across a variety of industries throughout the UK and North America.