If you’re a business leader looking for ways to cut costs in your company, you’ve probably considered outsourcing your call center.
Sometimes controversial, many customer service leaders firmly stand by this decision, believing that it alleviates costs that can afford to be cut down. Others disagree, with the mentality that keeping call centers in the same country is worth the extra costs.
If you’re considering making this change or have already begun the transition to this process, read on to learn more about outsourcing customer service as well as the pros and cons of utilizing an external call center.
Why might a company want to outsource their customer service?
Outsourcing customer service tends to mean companies can spend more of their resources and time prioritizing other aspects of the business. Maybe you’re looking to be a bit more product-focused, allocate more time to content creation, or are looking to hire top notch sellers. Rather than having employees in a customer service department here at home, you have the potential option of hiring people outside the U.S. via an external service to oversee your customer service and support operations. Usually the sourcing, hiring, and training of these employees is done entirely externally.
These outsourced services can handle bits and pieces of your call center or handle it completely for all functions, and can be an extremely efficient and cost effective option for businesses of all sizes.
Here are the Pros:
1. It is less (sometimes much less) expensive.
This may seem obvious, given that it does tend to be the primary (if not sole) reason for outsourcing customer service.
The cost of living in some foreign nations — with one of the most common ones being India — is much lower than that of the United States. These countries generally pay workers lower rates, thus saving you and your company money.
2. You can provide around-the-clock customer service.
For better or for worse, customers for the most part now expect quality 24/7 customer service. It would obviously be extremely costly to pay local employees to work long overnight shifts, but by outsourcing your call center you can easily cover every hour of the day when you consider varying time zones and rates of your international employees.
3. It saves time.
Hiring new employees can take quite a bit of company time. You need to ensure that new employees have been well-interviewed and properly trained, with strong communication skills and a knowledge of your company and its products.
Having an outsourced call center can take some of this weight off of your local employees shoulders by having someone else handle staffing. That way, your company can focus time and energy on more pertinent tasks.
4. It's helpful if you're a global company or looking to expand internationally.
Whether your business already has customers across the globe or is looking to expand its footprint overseas, it can be very helpful to have outsourced call centers.
More specifically, it's obviously beneficial for those call centers to be placed in countries where you are interested in doing business or having customers. This way, there are already relationships with locals and an understanding of the culture and market trends.
5. During busy seasons, you have the option to transfer calls your team can't handle.
Almost every industry has busy seasons. There might be certain times of the year when there's a higher call volume than usual, like around holiday seasons. Or maybe an outage or wider spread issue causes a sudden influx. During these times it can be difficult to manage an unexpected spike in customer inquiries. By having an outsourced call center whose job is to handle overflow, you can easily transfer calls to the call center without breaking a sweat.
What are the downsides?
1. You will probably face some cultural and communication barriers.
When outsourcing your call center, you might have to take some extra steps to ensure you and your company have an understanding of the language, culture, and work customs of the nation in which you wish to operate. There might be language barriers on the phone — such as different accents or lack of understanding of idioms or nuances — that can impede progress and potentially result in a less than positive experience for your at-home customers.
2. You won't have much control over who gets hired.
If you decide to use a foreign call-center, you’re usually foregoing your right to vet applicants or have any say in hiring. These employees won't get passed through the company for approval and might not have the same quality assurance you might use. Thus, your company might find that some employees hired at these call centers are unfit for the job, but you don't have a say in the situation.
3. You will have less (if any) cross-functional collaboration.
In your company, teams likely work closely together — especially if they're in the same building or even on the same floor. However, in an outsourced call center, employees don't have the same relationships. Thus, there might be a decrease in collaboration, resulting in lower morale and miscommunication that may influence customer relations.
4. You might notice less emphasis on customer satisfaction.
Since outsourced call centers are an external partner, they might not have the exact standard or dedication to stellar customer satisfaction as your employees at home. That's not to say these employees don't care about satisfying customers — it's simply that localized employees at your central offices are more likely to want to build and strengthen customer bonds to build loyal, lifetime customers.