Consider Outsourcing Your Customer Service
Customer service of the not-too-distant past meant a call center. It could be staffed by your employees or outsourced, but the communications technology was pretty narrow. It might be inbound, outbound or both, but it occurred primarily by telephone.
Today, things are much different. Whether your people are contacting customers or the other way around, it occurs along multiple tracks. In addition to phone lines, you have a 24/7 mix of email, real-time chat, website-based queries and orders, mobile messaging and a host of existing or on-the-horizon technologies to further improve contact with your customers.
The fact that your options have increased so dramatically makes it both easier and more difficult to interact with your customers. So many more ways to do it, and so much more to learn.
That’s perhaps the biggest reason to outsource customer service. If you’re not an expert in state-of-the-art inbound and outbound communications technology—and why should you be?—you can spend too much time trying to put all the pieces together. Here are some of the key reasons to explore the possible advantages of outsourcing.
They understand the technology. You don’t. Technology is a friend of business—until it becomes an obstacle. You could find yourself under-invested, with perpetually antiquated technology, or spending too much time and money on the next great innovation, the one that never actually comes. If you outsource customer service to a quality vendor, you don’t have to stay on top of the communications technology. They will.
It’s not necessarily your skill set. Your salespeople might be great on the phone or face-to-face, but hate to respond to emails. Or to troubleshoot when they should be selling.
You can’t do it all, all the time. The first time you don’t respond to a text query or an email complaint because the responsible employee is sick or busy, you’ve lost a customer. Ditto if the call comes in at three a.m., when your people have the pesky habit of sleeping. An outsource customer service center provides 24/7 response along every channel of communication.
Consider at least these two factors before making the outsourcing decision.
Does the vendor mesh with your culture? How critical is customer service to your organization? If it’s an important part of your culture (and it should be) make sure your vendor understands your commitment to customer relations and can fully support it. Find out, not by asking the question, but by playing customer. Test-drive your vendor before committing to a longer-term contract. Place calls, send email complaints, query by text in the middle of the night.
Do they understand your business? How complex are the products or services you sell? If it sounds like your prospective vendors are reading scripts and struggling to understand customer needs, see if the situation can be improved through better training. Also, look for vendors who’ve handled clients with similar complexity. Or only outsource the least complex parts of your customer relationship.
Explore your alternatives. The proper outsource customer service relationship can let your company get back to doing what it does best.