How to Outsource Customer Service for Growth
In 2019, outsourcing customer service is very popular. Outsourcing customer service has many benefits that can help your business grow. It allows you to scale up the business by concentrating on other facets, bring down costs and most importantly provide you a good quality & professional touch to your entire operation. People who are qualified to handle customers are a huge asset to every organisation. These people can be sourced online, but how do you do it?
To answer this, it’s imperative to first understand that outsourcing of any kind should be done only when you feel that it cannot be handled efficiently in-house. Any kind of outsourcing done as a quick fix or to avoid responsibility is a wrong move. It will act as a detriment to your growth by negatively impacting your business reputation. outsourcing should also never be done if you are in need of a drastic budget cut because you are bound to fall for the cheapest option which may not necessarily be the right one for you.
How to Outsource Customer Service
Outsourcing customer service is all about mindset. If you as the business owner is not convinced about outsourcing, your customer is bound to feel its impact. Be clear on why you want it and what purpose do you want it to serve. Once you set the course right, things will move in a more orderly fashion. If you want flawless customer service through outsourcing, you should follow some basic guidelines:
1. Research Your Options - Until you have done complete research, you should not make any decisions. The golden rule is to look at all possibilities and weigh their pros and cons before finalising a decision. You need to research the type of customer service you want, whether that be a call centre, email, social media, freelance sites or a mixture of them. You also need to be clear whether you want an actual physical or virtual customer service support centre.
Additionally, see what various companies offer. Invite them to either make a presentation or send a bid with details of services offered. If required, you can ask for recommendations and see what types of customer services are the most popular in your industry and whom to approach for them. Once you are armed with all the necessary information, you can make a decision which will be in line with what l the parties concerned (board of directors, shareholders, and investors) want.
2. Consider Legal Implications and Security Risks - Often we forget to look at the legal ramifications of outsourcing customer service. There is a definite security risk in making customer data available to others. Before making the data available to a third-party, do a review of your own security measures. Identify the sensitive data and restrict access to it. Ask your tech team to review the security measures that the third-party has in place to protect the data at their end. Once you are satisfied, get the contract drawn up. Let your legal team scrutinise the documents to ensure there are no loopholes and everything is legal and valid.
3. Establish Brand Tone - There is a definite tone that you have set with the customers in whatever communication you have done with them so far. They are used to the way you communicate. You cannot suddenly break that chain even if outsourcing is your only option. The company that you outsource your customer service to has to carry on in the same tone so that the customers do not find anything remiss. So your outsourcing partner has to sound exactly like you in all their communication with the customer.
4. Train Your Outsourced Team - Training your external support team is essential. Training will lay down the guidelines regarding what they can or cannot say to the customer. It will also give them a dry run, through hypothetical situations, of what to expect from the customer end and how to handle it. The quality of customer support has to be exceptional. Training will only help to set the manner for the right way of doing things. Even your own in-house personnel need to be trained about how to send any misplaced customer communication back to the right source, or how to guide the customers to the customer service cell for professional handling of their query, concern or grievance.
5. Invest in Communication Tools - There might be situations in which immediate communication is necessary. In fact, such situations do arise and there is nothing to worry about. To make communication easy and hassle free you can invest in a good communication tool like Skype. Communication is a two-way process, so whatever you invest in has to be agreed upon by your external support team.
6. Focus on Infrastructure - Yes! Security of data is a big concern, but so is the infrastructure setup of the customer support partner. Infrastructure here would refer to the appropriate equipment and software to support your strategy. Before deciding to go ahead with someone, it is best to go on their premises and check out the kind of operations they run and whether they have a suitable infrastructure to support it. If not, you can ask them to either build it up in order to get your business or you should look for someone who can support your scale of operations with ease.
Successful Customer Service Outsourcing
There is a definite shift in the medium used by the customers for contacting a company. Picking up the phone and dialing is no longer a preference. They’d rather go online to the company website and contact the customer support cell. What they expect in turn is professional handling of the concern they have. To give the customers the best possible experience companies are shifting to outsourcing. To outsource customer service you need to take into account the customer preferences (their channels of communication). Choose your service partner carefully because how they handle the customer service will have a direct impact on your business. Establish clear-cut goals, hire good agents and do everything in your power to facilitate their success. At the end of the day, their success is your success as well.