The Benefits of Outsourcing Your Customer Service Strategically
Outsourcing may be part of your 2023 business plan. With the rising cost of running a business, outsourcing your customer service can help you grow while strategically conserving resources. Companies of all sizes outsource their customer service for many reasons. Especially when they need to focus on other aspects of their business during economic uncertainty.
Let’s start with the basics before we get into the benefits of outsourcing customer service.
What does it mean to outsource your customer service?
BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) is when a company hires an external team of experts to perform business functions such as customer service. A BPO solution like an answering service can offer flexible coverage that enables you to outsource all or part of your customer service team. Many businesses outsource their customer service to save time and money while increasing in-house productivity and efficiency.
Navigating BPO: three key factors
Before entering a BPO agreement there are many factors to consider. How you choose to weigh these factors will be specific to your business and industry. Here are three key differences to understand when navigating outsourcing:
Domestic vs. International Outsourcing
The primary difference between these two types of outsourcing is the location where the work is done. Domestic outsourcing means your customer service is handled by a company in your country. In contrast, outsourcing your customer service internationally means that workers can be located in another country or dispersed globally.
Short-term vs. Long-term Outsourcing
Short-term outsourcing can be an immediate solution when you require urgent or temporary support for a specialized project, seasonal campaign, or unexpected disruption. However, many companies that try an outsourced customer service team tend to see long-term benefits. Looking at outsourcing as both a long-term business partnership and strategy can help you find the sweet spot between flexibility and stability. It also gives your service provider the opportunity to understand the nuances of your business and provide more customized solutions.
Dedicated vs. Shared Customer Support
When you outsource your customer service to an answering service or a call centre, there are normally two service options available. In a dedicated service model, agents are assigned to work solely on behalf of your company. In a shared (or blended) model, agents are trained to provide support on multiple different accounts. Both shared and dedicated agents are extensions of your team. Companies that benefit most from dedicated agents often require in-depth customer support and have the potential for high call volumes.
Investing in the right frontline support can deliver a significant ROI. Here’s how:
1. Prioritize core business areas.
Generating revenue can be challenging during an economic downturn. As your business grows, outsourcing can help you reduce your workload to re-focus on what matters most.
An outsourced customer service team enables you to prioritize your time, energy, and resources on the most profitable things your company does. By freeing up your time from other tasks, you can focus on differentiating from the competition through value-added services.
2. Optimize resource allocation.
Strategically outsourcing your customer service can help you more effectively manage your time, people, money, processes, and technology. Let’s use the cost of a new hire as an example.
The cost of hiring a new customer service rep goes far beyond wage. It encompasses recruiting, training, benefits, integration and more. Considering this, it’s not surprising that It can take up to six months or more for a company to break even on its investment in a new hire. Outsourcing enables you to allocate some of those resources elsewhere – like investing in employee development instead.
3. Gain access to specialized expertise.
Training is also a key component of any successful customer service strategy. Agents must have the technical expertise to navigate software and a required to provide an exceptional experience.
Outsourcing to an answering service gives you access to best practices, specialized knowledge, and experience relevant to your industry. Specialized agents can also help you expand your reach by offering multi-lingual services. This is a huge competitive advantage if you lack the resources to provide the extensive, ongoing, training that outsourced customer service reps receive.
4. Strengthen support structures.
Outsourcing also enables you to bring in additional resources, like people, when they’re necessary. Call volumes can increase significantly due to peak periods, seasonal events (i.e, tax season, winterizing services), or widespread crises (i.e. pandemic, product recall). If you’re understaffed or unprepared this can result in missed calls and stressed-out agents.
An answering service can help your in-house team keep their cool by handling overflow calls. When you outsource additional support, you can maintain your customer service levels while ensuring your agents or receptionists are adequately supported.
5. Be more agile and responsive.
Outsourcing can strengthen your overall customer experience. Customers today expect predictable, seamless, service across communication channels when interacting with your brand. They also want instant service through their preferred channel whether it’s day or night.
When customer expectations change rapidly, an answering service can provide scalable solutions to help you adapt. Outsourcing is a more cost-effective way to offer 24/7 customer support via phone, email, and live chat, so that you can meet customers’ expectations and ultimately drive growth.
6. Increase quality control and monitoring.
Top-tier customer support requires the latest technology and well-defined quality assurance (QA) processes. Outsourcing to an answering service that already has the right infrastructure in place can give you greater control over your service quality.
It’s also worth noting that service level agreements (SLAs) are an integral part of outsourcing your customer support. An SLA is an agreement that includes key performance metrics that will be monitored and used to measure the quality of your service. This contract should also include information about how calls and associated KPIs will be recorded, reviewed, evaluated, and shared with your company.
7. Identify operational efficiencies.
There are a lot of metrics you can measure and track with data taken directly from your calls. Outsourcing your customer service can give you access to customized reporting in real-time, or on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Robust reporting capabilities can help you optimize existing processes. Using call data analytics you can identify departmental bottlenecks, new market needs, or employee productivity issues. Just like a new employee, a new business partner brings with them a fresh set of eyes and experience which can uncover innovative opportunities.
8. Retain customers and increase satisfaction.
Investing in a better customer experience can help you strengthen your customer relationships and increase your brand value. Outsourcing to a highly-trained customer support team can give customers the type of service that keeps them coming back.
Trust takes time to build. Offering flexible, reliable, personalized, customer service can nurture that process. After all, customer loyalty is driven by positive experiences that leave customers feeling valued and cared for.
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