If you are looking forward to find a third party to take care of your customer service department, you are not alone. About 54 percent of all companies use services of third-party customer support teams to connect with customers. The customer service outsourcing industry is set to reach a whopping $110 billion by 2014. When setting up a startup, you can’t expect that your customer service will be uniform in the early stages of business development. When in the founding stage, customer support may not be your number one priority. It is likely that it isn’t even on your radar.
When you are dealing with the customers at the early stages of your startup, you have to think through the lens- think about the product-market fit. You need the customers more at the early stages because they are going to lead you the way forward. It’s like you are blindfolded and don’t know where your foot should step next. Feedback is one area customers can lend a hand. Since your team may be busy putting up other business processes, you can consider a customer service consultant. Here is a guide for customer service outsourcing:
Right Reasons You Want to Outsource Customer Support
You will want to outsource customer service to lower your operations costs, that’s a good idea – no business wants to go overboard in incurring costs. Scaling down the costs means taking the strategic analysis of the pain points and finding out ways to deal with them. Outsourcing allows a company to hire contract workers instead of having full-time employees. You aren’t paying a fixed salary, transport costs, healthcare benefits, and over time – all of these can amount to huge staff maintenance expenses.
Outsourcing helps you get on-demand customer support, especially during the busy times like holiday season. You can outsource additional customer care services to take care of the increasing support demand. Third-party customer services can help streamline repetitive tasks. Outsourcing also helps scale up your business. If your business is experiencing a rapid change and growth, your workers may not have adequate time for customer service, and you need that taken care of by a qualified support team.
The Wrong Reasons for Outsourcing Customer Service
You just don’t wake up one morning and head to the office only to call a customer support service company to handle your customer care needs. There must be a good reason you are outsourcing and it comes from the nature of your customer service. If you are taking your customer support to another party because you want to heavily slide down the high budget you have, it could backfire. Handling customers is a very sensitive and important aspect to your business and you don’t want to give the role to just anyone, for any reason. You also don’t want to outsource customer care to make a quick fix or avoid responsibilities. There has to be a valid reason you are doing it.
How to Flawlessly Outsource Customer Service
Before you to outsource online customer service, you need to have an action plan showing how you intend to accomplish your customer support goals. Establishing your brand voice and tone will help you get the right support team. Your customers have been communicating with you and are used to a familiar voice or tone – whether through text, email, phone call, or through your branding. The support team you hire should carry that voice and tone. You need to have guidelines stipulating what the team may or may not say to your customers. Have a hypothetical situation the team is likely to encounter in the future and see how they react. Ensure that the team can handle difficult customers – and you know some customers can really be rowdy.
Find multiple options and see which customer service support team best suits your company’s needs. Some third-party customer support services specialize in handling repetitive conversations or high volume queries, while others have the flair to handle in-depth situations of a brand. The language needs and time differences are other things you want to consider.
Outsourcing is just that! You are giving a third party a key to the doors of your customer support. The third party becomes your brand’s face; he or she talks about you and your brand. You don’t want your business to be represented by a team that doesn’t care about your privacy, security, and safety. You need to check the security and legal risks involved when signing the contract with the support team. Reviewing your internal security helps protect sensitive data of the customers as well as your business data. You can restrict access to sensitive information such as health records and credit card details to the third party customer support team.
Also, invest in tools that help you to keep in touch with the outsourced customer support team. You can use tools such as Skype and Slack. There are other tools such as Time Doctor that you can use to bill your support team.
Training is also very crucial if you are going to have quality customer service from a third party. No matter how demanding your schedule is, you have to allocate time to train the team. The quality of services the support team offers and how it relates to your customers can make or break your brand. It is estimated that 51 percent of customers do not do business again with a company after having one negative experience. That’s something you want to avoid with the third party customer support team by training them. Also, customers are 65 percent more likely to go spreading negative feedback that comes from one poor service interaction.
Type of Customer Service and Mode of Communication
Customer support companies offer services in different ways. There are companies that use email support, others use call centers, and others have live chat rooms. It will depend on your mode of communication for your business. Today, email is a common method of communicating with customers. Email support is considered a safe outsourcing bet and many customers don’t expect that they will get responses to their queries instantly, probably 24 hours. Email support gives the customer service representatives time to research any issue they may not be familiar with about your brand or something that requires consultation with your employees.
If you have a large volume of customers interacting with your business, you can opt for call centers. When using call centers, ensure you get a reliable company because some may be overburdened with inbound and outbound calls.
Besides the traditional customer support methods, businesses are today using social media to handle customer issues and concerns. A customer would ask a question on Facebook and a support team representative gives a quick response. When using social channels, the support team should understand the proper way to respond to the customers. Some responses can even be public and read by many customers if they are about issues affecting a big number of customers. At other times, the response may be private if a customer is inquiring something particular with them. Social media communication is fast and customers can quickly get responses without waiting long. Some businesses can even be proactive in which they search for common complaints and queries presented on the internet and respond to them on social media.
Hiring Customer Service Team
When considering customer service outsourcing, you need to ensure that you have a reliable team. The team should be able to communicate effectively without language barriers. You can perform random test calls to talk to various members of the call center customer support team and discover if there may be any issues with language barriers. If customers cannot effectively communicate with a support service team or worker, it is frustrating and your brand may begin to wilt.
See the testimonials about the company or look for outsourced companies that provide incentives to their representative staff like bonuses. Some businesses use call monitoring software to record calls. This is important because it helps gain an understanding of how the representatives are dealing with issues. You can listen to random conversations and see how issues were resolved. The recording of calls is also essential for legal purposes and escalated customer issues or complaints.
Conduct periodic test calls to see how things go on in the real support service you outsource. You can make an anonymous call or pretend that you are a customer of your business and call the representatives at the call center to see how they resolve an issue. The test calls offer you a reflection of how your customer calls are handled. So, you have an idea whether the third party customer service support team is delivering to expectations or not.
The Wrap Up
Customer service represents the face of your brand, you can taint it or bright it depending on the customer support service you choose. The right customer care outsourcing can help keep high standards of your business without incurring extra expenses from an in-house team. When outsourcing, ensure you get legal representation to sign any contract and review the paperwork. You don’t want to risk the security of your business and your customers by hiring a customer support service blindfolded. Choose a team that understands your brand and further strengthen its ability to resolve issues by training them. Let them know which issues they can handle and which ones they can’t.