Is customer service outsourcing really the best option?
Saving money is always on the mind of just about every business out there. Is customer service outsourcing a road you want to travel down? While you might outsource some things like order fulfillment, customer service outsourcing is a very different process. This is when you are taking your employees out of the contact and interaction they have with the customers and replacing them with a company that automates the process and will typically use call centers to satisfy the questions the customers have.
Large scale companies like DirecTV and Lady Fitness have been successful with their customer service outsourcing but it doesn't always mean it keeps the customers happy. When you outsource customer services, your customers are usually read information from a script. This script does little to appease them but it does free up the time your staff members may be spending on the phone trying to deal with the issues your customers have. Some of the customers need to go to outsourcing services as they are strict about contract rules and obligations and they almost always get a difficult customer to pay their bill or honor the contract they originally signed with your company.
Outsourcing can be a great way to reduce operating costs but it can lead to customer backlash. Choosing the wrong outsourcing service can put your company in the hot seat as customers will become upset with the way they are being treated when they call in for customer service. They might also become frustrated if you have chosen a company that has language barriers and it's difficult for the customers to get an answer to their questions.
If you are seriously considering customer service outsourcing, there are a few things you need to consider before you move ahead with it and assume it's going to change the way your company operates:
- Confidentiality. Whenever you outsource, you run the risk of having your customer's personal information stolen. Credit card information and other personal information will be given to a 3rd party and this doesn't always sit well with your customers. Be careful about using outsourcing services overseas since there have been a number of fraud risks and theft that happens when the information leaves the US. You need to try and protect your customers by preparing legal documentations about your rights and their rights and you must also include job descriptions for each person at the call center as to how they need to handle the phone calls that come in.
- Performance. A call center doesn't have the same relationship you have with your customers. They aren't going to work on fostering the relationship with your customers and they certainly aren't going to look for ways to strengthen communication with the customers. They often get hundreds of phone calls a day and they start to get into a set system of how they handle the call and they aren't going to move away from this to try and make a customer feel like they had a wonderful experience by talking to them on the phone. They just want to get them off the phone and onto the next call. You will lose some of the communication and relationships that you have worked hard to create.
- Productivity. The other thing you need to consider is how the productivity of the call center will impact your company. Since you aren't there to work on building relationships and making a sale, there is no way to guarantee you can increase your sales by outsourcing customer service. If you end up paying a lot for outsourcing and you aren't seeing a nice return, you may want to consider starting up your own call center and transferring your accounts to it instead.