GUEST POST: Service Outsourcing Should Be at the Top of Your 2021 To-Do List
Today’s customer service leaders are under enormous pressure to deliver high quality service to more customers across a growing number of channels with budgets that are not matching the pace of interaction growth. Facing these constraints, some may find themselves purposely hindering the customer experience (turning off channels, reducing hours of service, or increasing acceptable response time windows) instead of considering an entirely different approach to their costs. Read about why you should really be considering outsourcing right now.
By Amanda Quinn, SVP Finance & Marketing, ArenaCX
Picture this: The new smart watch you ordered online has finally arrived. You successfully turn it on and get it syncing with your phone. For the first week or two everything is going great – you’re loving the health insights, being able to respond to messages on the go, and finding out the weather with a flick of your wrist.
But then, all of the sudden, your watch stops receiving text messages. You go to the manufacturer’s website and call their support line. The estimated hold is currently 95 minutes. “That’s crazy,” you think.
So you go try to self-serve by visiting the company’s help center to look for articles that might explain what’s going on. You follow the directions to troubleshoot (turn the watch off and back on, turn your phone off and on, unpair your watch from the phone) with no luck. You even call your nephew to see if he knows any tricks you don’t.
Now what? Do you call the manufacturer back and just resign yourself to the long wait? Do you email the general support address and hope you get a timely response?
Let’s paint a new picture of service.
Imagine the original scenario, but this time when you go to the manufacturer’s website you see the option to start a chat and the estimated wait time is less than 2 minutes. The agent asks you a few basic security questions, listens to the issue you’re experiencing and offers you a few easy-to-follow troubleshooting tips. Before you know it, your smart watch is back up and running and you can get back to your life.
Now, what if I told you the person you were just chatting with is actually an outsourced customer service representative based in Honduras. Would you be surprised that you could get “good” support from an overseas agent? Most people would be.
Unfortunately, customer service outsourcing has a lingering bad reputation from a time when offshore centers were notorious for treating their customer service agents with little respect. When you hear “offshore call center,” sadly, you probably still picture poorly vetted sweatshop environments with underpaid, mistreated, and miserable workers. While I’d be remiss to say that those types of outsourcing centers have become completely extinct, I can gladly say that that awful scenario is becoming less and less frequent as the number of well-managed contact centers consistently rises.
Think about outsourced service in a new light.
Over the past few years, the outsourcing industry has made considerable improvements so it’s time to start thinking about outsourcing in a new light. Now there is a plethora of well-managed contact centers with excellent performance records, high ethical standards, sophisticated technology, and a deep appreciation for the modern customer experience.
Today’s modern contact centers are well-prepared to handle the day-to-day operations of assisting the customer at multiple touches and through multiple channels. They also strive to meet the financial, culture, social responsibility, data security, and regulatory compliance requirements of the companies they are representing.
This can be accomplished by a demonstrable shift in the way CSRs are managed: They can now expect fair wages, respect from their employer, and opportunities for career growth and success. As a result, these happier CSRs have a more positive outlook on their work, which reflects in how they treat the customers they’re serving.
This has been widely recognized in the industry, and more and more outsourcing centers are doing what it takes to do right by their employees and by their client’s customers. After all, Happy Customer Service Representatives = Happy Customers = Higher Customer Satisfaction Scores
Ranging from small boutiques to publicly traded companies, contact centers are now present in every geography, helping fill language and time zone gaps for internal teams. Brands can partner with firms that are local (US-based), nearshore (Latin America and the Caribbean), offshore, or even an open-talent firm.
Better yet, a combination of partnerships is often the best bet, allowing brands to tap into a disparate set of skills and strengths for different aspects of their business. This enables the brand to save money on support costs while maintaining the level of support their customers expect and deserve.
In short, service outsourcing no longer requires a tradeoff of quality for cost.
For those still hesitant to trust these improvements, take comfort knowing that industry watchdogs, news outlets, and social media platforms won’t hesitate to spread the word about bad actors in the outsourcing space. A bit of vetting and getting customer testimonials will help you find the partners who fit with your business.
It’s important to outsource with integrity.
This obviously includes choosing a reputable partner who treats their employees responsibly and respectfully, but it also means that once you’ve chosen your partner(s), it’s imperative that you treat them as such: trusted partners. You and your outsourcing partners must understand that you are mutually responsible for business outcomes and must manage the relationship collaboratively. Your partners can become huge assets in your quest to deliver high quality support with a constrained budget.
We view the traditional headcount-based model of engaging with a contact center as an impediment to creating the true spirit of partnership most brands desire. Instead of contracting on a per-agent basis, we recommend engaging your partners on a per-interaction model where they earn more of your business the better they do. We believe aligning incentives for your company and your partners is key to long-term successful partnership.
In short, if you feel your customer service operations are not 100% able to meet your customer needs (channel, hours, languages, etc.) within your budget, you should really consider outsourcing.
ArenaCX is the world’s first marketplace where contact centers compete to better serve your customers. We make it easy to find and trial new contact center partners. If you’re interested in learning more about outsourcing or how ArenaCX can help match you with vetted, ready-to-onboard partners visit ArenaCX.