Outsourcing customer service is appealing for many reasons: It can save your business money and resources. But under the wrong circumstances, it can give you a serious headache.
Almost any element of a company can be outsourced; from data entry to graphic design. The decision to do this becomes more complicated because outsourcing means another company will be interacting with your customers. This is certainly the case with call center operations.
The reality is that outsourcing is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Contracting out your call center can cut overheads significantly but poor service could lead to a mass departure of customers. As a result, it’s important to carefully weigh the pros and cons of call center outsourcing for your brand.
In this blog, you’ll find three of the most notable pros and cons of outsourcing a call center. These pros and cons will help you decide if outsourcing is the right choice for your business.
Advantages of Call Center Outsourcing
1. Lower costs
Most businesses are under pressure to manage or reduce operating costs. Outsourcing some or all of the contact center functions can be attractive if your company is laser-focused on the bottom line. Hiring, training, and equipping a contact center team is a large ongoing expense. A BPO will handle the costs of running your contact center for you, making it a fixed cost.
2. Increased productivity
As we’ve written about extensively, customer experience (CX) is important. The customer service department is a core element of CX, helping to form brand perception and determine overall business success. But providing solid customer service is no small feat, and setting up an effective customer service infrastructure is a huge undertaking for most businesses.
Call center outsourcing allows you to focus on other activities like production, sales, and distribution. This is even more relevant if customer service is currently handled by employees who have other roles and responsibilities they are juggling.
3. Better technology
One thing that many contact center outsourcing companies do to set themselves apart and bring added value is by investing in the latest technology. This means that you don’t have to! Whether it’s better ticketing software, smarter call-routing, or access to the latest AI technology available for the contact center.
If you choose the right subcontractor, you (or rather, your customers) will benefit from everything that this innovative tech can bring, without the huge upfront investment. It’s definitely a smart option for smaller customer support departments that aren’t getting the investment they need to provide the best possible service.
4. More flexibility
Call spikes happen to be one of our favorite topics to write about. Many contact centers have peaks in call volume as a result of holidays, bad weather, special promotions, and more. While call-backs are a cost-effective way of managing these spikes, outsourced contact centers can also help you manage high call volume.
Outsourcing enables businesses to scale-up customer service support during peak times without having to train, hire, and then lay off workers. They handle the heavy administrative work of scheduling, hiring, It’s not as cost-effective as a call-back solution but it does work.
5. Longer service hours
One huge differentiator for brands is their accessibility. Customers expect to be able to get in contact with you whenever they need you, not just when your office is open. Smaller, local businesses may get away with standard service hours, but any big brand (and particularly online retailers) really have to provide 24/7 customer support.
Here are some good examples of how customers perceive your brand if you fail to provide 24/7 customer support:
@PayPal has $2.5 Billion per year, but can’t afford 24*7 decent customer support. Doesn’t value customers.
— StrykerAce (@StrykerAce007) January 14, 2020
A billion dollar company can’t afford to provide at least 24/7 live chat customer support?
Sends an obvious message about just how much you carehttps://t.co/v86Qnss9qu
— Pvp update tweeter (@Pvpupd8tweeter) June 25, 2019
Outsourcing your customer support department to a global 24/7 operation allows you to offer your customers anytime support, which is fast becoming a customer expectation. If you’re smart, this doesn’t have to mean subcontracting out all your voice support every hour of the day. Look at which channels are most appropriate to keep live through the night. Social media and live chat are far cheaper to outsource than voice support and could be all your BPO needs to handle for you to provide round-the-clock support.
6. Expertise in customer support
Although most customers have a great idea about their product or service, it’s rare that they naturally have great customer support. Great customer support is essential for a successful company but it takes a lot of resources to keep up-to-date with the latest in the CX industry.
Customer support outsourcing allows your company to focus on getting better at the things it’s already great at. You don’t need to be a customer experience market-leader to be able to provide market-leading customer support to your customers. Specialist BPOs are designed specifically for that purpose. They stay up to date with technology and consumer behaviour, and their expertise can set your business apart in the best way possible.
Disadvantages of Call Center Outsourcing
1. Loss of control
The biggest reason that a company would keep its call center in-house is control. Losing control of your customer service means you have a reduced ability to deliver your brand promise in the contact center. There is always a risk that this loss of control over quality monitoring will lead to lower quality delivery. This is one of the major disadvantages of call center outsourcing.
Close supervision is difficult and even with a reliable and transparent external partner, you’re still placing a vital business function in the hands of someone else. Remember that every BPO has a focus on cost and operational efficiency, and your customers may well suffer because of it.
2. Lack of industry or company knowledge
The cost of hiring and training is high because it’s important that customer service reps have knowledge of your company and industry. Outsourced call centers rarely specialize in any one industry and will serve a range of companies.
If your call center agents require special knowledge to serve your customers, outsourcing may be a risk. You need to ensure that anyone speaking to your customers can give them the technical support they expect.
Customers will get a faster, more comprehensive response with a well-trained agent, and ultimately be happier with your service.
3. Language barriers
If you are outsourcing your call center overseas, it is possible that agents in these countries may lack the cultural knowledge and language fluency to communicate effectively. As a result, special consideration is needed when choosing an outsourcing partner to ensure that these agents are trained well and can communicate at the necessary level.
4. Quality can be expensive
No matter the size of the service you require, adding a business process outsourcer to your roster will be a large expense. It can be tempting to go with the cheapest options, but like many things in life, you’ll likely end up paying more in the end anyway. It’s worth paying more to ensure you get a good level of service, and this comes at a cost.
Another issue is that many providers require you to commit to a large contract, which is often well beyond the needs of smaller companies looking for support. Without being sure of the value upfront, this can be a very big risk.
5. Lack of feedback
Customer expectations continue to change rapidly, and a good contact center manager is able to keep up with their desire to use new channels or feelings about behaviour. The problem with contact center outsourcing is that the extra levels of management, as well as the increased distance between company and customer, can distort the conversation.
Your customers are freely contacting you every day to help you improve your product, and to let you know what they want to buy next from you. When you outsource your customer support department, a lot of that rich feedback gets lost. You may see numbers about queries handled and maybe specific cases, but you don’t get the same wide-bandwidth information flow as you do with an in-house team.
Is Contact Center Outsourcing Right for You?
Businesses are nothing without their customers; so, providing excellent customer service is the key to customer retention.
Outsourcing your call center operations could either improve or reduce customer satisfaction. The decision is not one to be taken lightly. It depends on your company’s needs and specifics. Remember to take those into consideration along with these pros and cons, it should be clearer whether outsourcing is right for your business.