5 things you should be aware of before outsourcing your customer service operations
60% of the enterprises outsource some or the other piece of their customer service function. That’s a massive number, and they do them for good reasons. The main reasons are the outsourced provider’s expertise and the cost savings associated with the outsourced relationship.
Besides that, an outsourced customer service organization’s advantages would include access to the latest technology, short response times, highly skilled agents, a 24/7 window, and easy scalability.
That being said, customer service is a critical part of your business, which can make or break your business.
While thinking of outsourcing, you should be considering these:
- Can you really trust a provider to care about your customers as much as you do?
- Can you trust them with one of your most important business operations?
While we understand the pros and cons of outsourcing customer service, it is imperative that enterprises don’t have a choice but to outsource at least a part of their customer service operations.
Let us look at how we can get this outsourcing right and the key steps you should take before getting into an outsourcing relationship.
While training on your offerings is a fundamental component of outsourcing, you need to ensure that the outsourced partner understands the tone of your company voice. This is the vital component of having a consistent customer experience across the customer journey.
Create a set of brand guidelines on what can be said or cannot be said.
They need to have a deep understanding of your company culture, customers, tone, and products and services.
Identify repetitive tasks, which have a standard response and handling procedure. Get those outsourced at the beginning to get your partner to understand your company and its offerings.
Assess all the possible channels the partner can handle – email, messaging, live chat, telephony, video, and chatbots. Based on the channels they are comfortable with, figure out what can be outsourced.
Run through hypothetical scenarios that the partner will be facing in the future and assess their reaction to the situation. Work and iterate on the reactions.
Make the partner care about why you exist and why it makes sense for your customers to continue in the relationship.
Pick the partner for the right reasons
Cost savings should be incidental to the relationship. It should not be the reason why you sign up with them.
Some of the right reasons would mean:
- Do they provide you a location advantage to address customer needs in that location?
- Do they provide you with the option of 24/7 availability?
- Do they provide different language skills?
- Do they have automation and intelligence tools – chatbots, live chat, messaging, and intelligence engines?
- Do you want to empower the partner’s agents to be creative and make informed decisions on your behalf?
- Do they have experience in your domain and handling high-volume of inquiries?
- Do they have a track record of problem-solving and dealing with demanding clients?
These would be great starting points for getting into an outsourced relationship for your customer service.
You need to figure out what you want to monitor. Do you want to increase revenue from existing customers? Do you want to improve customer satisfaction levels?
Define your objectives for the relationship, and identify metrics you want to measure and monitor.
Figure out how frequently you want your partner to report the metrics. Work on the iterations based on the metrics, and ensure accountability from your partner.
Set aside time for regular training with the agents of your partner. Pull out call recordings, screen recordings, and run them through an analytics platform to pick the red flags. Prioritize the red flags and put together training programs at regular intervals to ensure they are up and running with the expectations.
Look at every metric positively from a training perspective and not from a policing perspective. Enable and empower the partner agents to deliver the best possible customer experience on behalf of your brand.
Run a pilot
While you want to get the outsourced customer service relationship going, you still want to ensure that your partner meets your objectives.
How do you ensure that?
Run a pilot for a short time on the channels you have identified. Provide the necessary training, make them aware of your expectations, and monitor the outcomes.
Once the pilot runs its entire course to your satisfaction, scale the operations and start adding more seats, more work, and more channels.
These are probably the most important considerations you should look at before deciding to get into an outsourced customer service relationship. Any outsourcing is a two-way process, where the provider and the organization that outsources need to work together by having their expectations clearly defined. This would ensure the success of the partnership, and in turn growth of the organization for the right reasons.