How to Approach Customer Support Outsourcing

Businesses continually try to find a balance between maintaining costs and providing quality care to customers. Customer support outsourcing can be a cost-effective way to cut costs and manage company growth.  Employees and resources can instead be applied to functions geared to output and efficiency. For this type of outsourcing to be successful, it is important to understand what it involves and the things to look for.

Advantages of customer support outsourcing
Customer support functions of any business in customer service can be time consuming and labor intensive. Complaints and routine inquiries require research of the issue in question and trying to resolve problems while maintaining professionalism. Certain times of the day may also experience high volumes of requests for support. By outsourcing this function, employees can focus on core functions of the business. It can help maintain productivity by concentrating time and resources on what the business is set up to do.

Outsourcing saves money in terms of salaries and training costs. By outsourcing, there is less overhead for the business as customer service is not done in-house. Money does not need to be spent on expensive costs of training programs for of new and existing employees.

Outsourcing can bring 24-hour service coverage in customer support functions. Contract firms that specialize in these services often have employees work in shifts around the clock to be available to handle customer needs. Businesses do not need to worry about staffing needs. If done in other countries, salary considerations like shift differential may not be an issue.

For firms that need to provide customer support but only on an irregular basis or at low volume, outsourcing can be ideal. They do not have to pay for employees who will have nothing to do in some periods but be overwhelmed in others.

Customer support outsourcing also gives the benefit of language. If services are outsourced to Latin American countries, services can be provided to bilingual or Spanish speaking individuals in the U.S. English is spoken primarily in India and the Philippines. Outsourcing services can be used there providing English speaking staff at a lower rate of pay. However, part of the outsourcing process will be ensuring those who will be answering the phone are highly proficient in the language.

Disadvantages of customer support outsourcing
Proper customer support often requires detailed knowledge of a company and its products. When outsourcing, it is difficult to train employees in this knowledge. There is also the fact that they will have no loyalty to the firm they are answering calls for.

To make sure the vendor is doing the job properly, time and resources will need to be devoted to monitoring their work.

Choosing an outsource firm and avoiding problems
There are steps that can be taken to choose the right firm and avoid problems. These are your customers and how they are dealt with reflects on your company. The way customers are treated can either enhance dissatisfaction or ensure repeat business. It is the only human contact many customers will have with a company and must be done properly.

It is important to look for a firm that is familiar with your industry. Check if the outsourcing companies have worked with similar businesses to yours. See if they specialize in your area of business, or if they provide general customer support services. Have someone in command of the outsourcing account who can handle a smooth transition of services.

Good customer service requires the right technology. Make sure the outsourcing firm has the proper technology infrastructure and software.

When setting up a program for customer support outsourcing, review the reporting standards of firms to see how they handle inquiries. Companies should have ways to track data and calls. Check to see the format they use and if it conforms to your needs and specifications. It is also important to know exactly where the calls will be handled.

When contracting with an outside firm, it is vital to set up a way you can independently monitor calls and service to customers. Customer service is an important aspect of any business, and there is less control when an outside party handles it. It is necessary to have access to information to include recorded calls, time spent on calls, number of customers served per day and any other data that can help evaluate the services provided. Arrangements should be made in advance with both parties prior to finalizing contracts.

To reduce the risk of the vendor taking secrets to another company, sign a non-disclosure agreement. Know what percent of that vendor’s business will be with your company and their financial health.

In addition, refuse any offer by outsourcing companies to set up their own in-house number for your business. Keeping your own number will make it possible to change companies at any time should the need arise.

Scripts for how to greet customers will need to be developed for outside firms that will best reflect your business and services. Staff should be trained specifically for your company’s needs. If possible, review the turnover of firms that you may work with. Places with high turnover may be continually dealing with new employees who cannot offer the best service due to lack of experience.