Does Outsourcing Customer Service Mean You Never Deal with it Again?
Unfortunately, the answer is no.
As we reported on Twitter in early 2018, many companies that outsource customer service do so in order to focus on their core businesses, so we assume this isn’t the answer you wanted to hear, but it’s important for us that you have all the facts before you make a big decision like that.
Yes, the majority of the customer service operations will be done by your outsourcing partner, yet someone in your company will need to manage the relationship with this customer service provider.
Today, let’s talk about the few elements of customer service you probably shouldn’t outsource, at least not entirely, at least not at first.
Collaborate with Your Customer Service Outsourcing Partner to Come Up with Strategy and Success Metrics
If you work with a provider that’s been in business for a while, chances are they know what it takes to ensure customer service success. But their definition of success – or the definition of the majority of their clients – might be different than yours, and that’s OK.
That’s why it’s important to take the time you need to understand what you’d like to accomplish, and then talk about it with your partner.
For example, according to Deloitte, the #1 reason companies outsource is to reduce costs. If that’s you, one of the key elements you’ll need to work on is staying within budget.
Source HelpGrid’s Instagram account
Or, if your #1 reason is to prioritize customer joy above all else, your partner needs to know it.
Stay open to what your partner has to say. They might suggest to adjust the strategy to fit your goals, or might suggest a more realistic goal, based on their experience. When you work together, combining your understanding of your market and their understanding of delighting customers, you’re much more likely to reach a profitable strategy.
Then, work backwards together, and decide on KPIs (key performance indicators) that will give you insight into how well things are going, and what you still need to tweak.
There’s Employee Training Only You Can Do
When companies outsource their customer service operations to HelpGrid, for example, they know we train our agents with the most effective customer service strategies, and provide them with the most powerful toolkit we can to brave through any challenge that comes up in calls, so customers finish the call happy.
But we don’t know your products, your brand voice, the feelings you want to convey when customers reach out, or even the questions they most frequently ask, at least not at first. And here’s what happens when your customer service partners don’t know that information:
Now, in some cases, you can send over some information or conduct a workshop, and your provider’s team can take it from there, so you won’t need to train every new agent that joins the outsourced team.
But you need to be proactive in making sure the agents are knowledgeable enough to handle customer calls professionally, and that they do so in a way that aligns with the rest of your company, so that customer service remains an extension of your company, even when it’s outsourced.
Supervise to Ensure Brand Messages, Personality and Attitude are an Extension of Your Company
The last thing you want when you outsource your customer service is that customers will feel like they’re talking to one company on Twitter and Facebook, and another company on the phone and via email.
Split brand personality can be a tough experience for customers to navigate through. As the video below explains, it’s kinda like watching a karaoke performance, where a few people sing the exact same song as they get up on stage together, but each person is singing it in a completely different genre.
This could happen whether you outsource or not, so from time to time, supervise calls and emails your provider’s team is doing to ensure this doesn’t happen, and figure out where you need to spend more time training.
That’s not always that obvious at first, especially if you were a solopreneur until not long ago, and your brand voice was basically your own.
Being funny or compassionate might have come to you naturally, but now that you no longer answer every call or email yourself, take time to study how your team understands and implements your core values, and where they need some support to go deeper and represent you better.
Expect to supervise more closely at the beginning, and then gradually let go more, as your customer service outsourcing partner takes over the training.
Don’t be afraid to ask your partner to help you figure out the process. They’ve done it before, and they’ll know how to help you succeed.
Outsourcing Customer Service Saves You Significant Amounts of Time, But Your Outsourcing Partner Needs Your Help, at Least at First
As we shared on Facebook last year, 64% of companies are working to improve vendor management capabilities, according to Deloitte.
Source HelpGrid’s Facebook page
As we shared back then, “if you’re thinking about outsourcing your customer service… it’s important to talk to potential providers about what they need from you – both upfront (like product training) and on an ongoing basis – to succeed.”
This means you can’t detach entirely, but dedicating enough time upfront will significantly reduce your involvement down the line, saving you an abundance of time to focus on your core business.
Whether you only have one in-house manager involved or a whole team (depending on how large your customer service operations are), we recommend that they stay on top of developments and trends in the customer service industry if you want to turn your customer service operations from a cost center to a profit center.
That’s what this blog is about. We’re here every week with research data, practical tips, and the occasional good laugh, to help you succeed. Make sure you sign up to our newsletter, so you don’t miss any important strategies (we’ll also send you our complimentary guide to the top 2019 customer service channels according to research), or, if you need more personalized support, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected], and our team will be happy to answer any question you have.
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