Disadvantages of Outsourcing Customer Support and How to Solve Them
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64% of business leaders say that customer service has a positive impact on their business growth. Customer satisfaction and retention are two of the most important goals of eCommerce, that’s why small and big businesses alike maximize cost-effective strategies such as outsourcing customer support.
Outsourcing your customer support team brings several advantages:
- Cut costs and lets you save time and money
- Quality assurance from highly skilled experts
- 24/7 customer support
- Increase business’ scalability and efficiency
- Better risk management
- Improved customer experience
On the flip side of these advantages, some cons are inevitable. Here we name some of them, with the corresponding solutions to help you navigate and improve your customer service.
The more you do it, the more you learn, and the better you get at outsourcing.
1. Inadequate knowledge of the business
Outsourced teams may not be as knowledgeable as in-house teams when it comes to your business culture, values, or ethics. You hire them to accomplish certain tasks, and their focus might go 100% in that direction. You may have a specific culture that makes your customers tick, and your outsourced customer support agent is unaware of it.
This reduced understanding can show up in their output and affect overall performance and dedication. The best-outsourced teams specialize in efficiently mapping your processes and procedures. But some details and some knowledge fall into gaps.
If you don’t bridge this gap, they cannot represent your brand or connect with your customers.
Create a brand guide with your core values and the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of your products/services. This can easily be shared with your outsourced team without time sinks from you or your internal team.
Practice clear and consistent communication. Share the vision and ethics of your business. Centralize an information channel where you can keep everyone updated on new releases or language, price changes, policies, etc.
2. Reduced control over work performance
When an outsourced offshore team handles your overall customer support, it reduces the control you have over the said business process. Because they work with little to no supervision, you can’t monitor their performance regularly. They might even propose changes to your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Compliance with your policies aside, you do have less control and less visibility in day-to-day operations and carrying out of your customer support tasks.
Before outsourcing, make sure you do your research – set clear objectives and expectations for the project or role. Provide detailed training manuals, and how-tos, and share existing knowledge bases. Set expectations on time frames, Service Level Agreements (SLAs), and what’s considered best practice. Identify and confirm the main points of contact and set regular meetings to keep in touch.
Again, it comes down to clarity about your brand. Communicate your SOPs and non-negotiables when it comes to output.
3. Lack of collaboration between outsourced and in-house teams
Your outsourced team and your in-house team work separately, so communication and collaboration may be limited. They might not have the means to contact each other and discuss issues in real time, thus, hindering a united approach to customer support.
Outsourced teams also tend to work remotely and team members are not in the same location or time zone. In return, communication may be vague and inconsistent, and some information may be isolated, resulting in poor customer support performance.
Implement a unified communication channel where all teams can interact and discuss things. If not in real time because of time zones, then with visibility and accountability.
You can use business messaging platforms like Slack, MS Teams are ideal for fast communication and quick updates. Project management apps like Asana, Trello, and ClickUp provide centralized communication on tasks and projects with searchable history.
4. Less transparency over customers’ feedback
Getting direct feedback from your customers gives you insight into what’s working and what needs improvement. But with an outsourced customer support team, the feedback is directed to them.
Your outsourced team will, yes, relay the feedback to you, though with added distance and time, the conversation can be distorted. You may not be getting the same rich feedback and wide-bandwidth information you once got directly from customers.
Use a helpdesk system (Freshdesk, Zendesk, Gorgias, Help Scout) to track and monitor all communication from your customers as tickets. Automate data collection with Zapier or IFTTT. The triggers can be certain words in the messages. This way, you and your teams can get insights from customer concerns. Manual entries are good too for detailed feedback from customers.
5. Language barriers and culture clash
Outsourced offshore customer teams may not be familiar with the culture of your geographic location, and may not be able to address customers with fluency. Mistakes in colloquialisms and a certain tone of voice or accent can cause customer dissatisfaction, misinterpretation, or messages lost in translation.
Hire a team who, if not already experienced in that culture, can learn and adapt quickly and can read contextual clues.
6. Risk of exposing confidential information
When you work with an outsourcing team, sharing your business information and intellectual property is inevitable. Customer support teams need access to sensitive personal data to properly respond to customers’ queries.
In this case, you would worry if the information is secured or not, knowing that an outsourced team works for different businesses.
Do a thorough background check before hiring your team. Learn their client security protocols and data protection system for outsourced work. Have them sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement and a Service Level Agreement to protect your business and your customers.
Control access to your platforms, folders, and docs through cloud-based systems; Google Drive, Lastpass, and encrypted file-sharing services.
7. Divided attention and lack of dedication
Your in-house team works only for you and is focused on your customers, but you can’t say the same thing about your outsourced customer support team. They’re busy working with other clients too.
Part of outsourcing efficiency is you get an assurance of focus and productivity. But it comes back to having no control and visibility over the work being done.
Implement time-tracking solutions so you know your teams are focused on your business on your hours. The best teams and agencies use time tracking software like Hubstaff, and Time Doctor, among others, so you can even see screenshots of your team’s hours if you choose to.
Outsourcing the right customer support team
When you outsource the right way, you resolve the cons of outsourcing before they happen and you work with a talent pool that fits all your business needs. When you outsource your customer support, think about how to do it effectively.
- Set clear and measurable goals. Before you search for your perfect team, you should know what you want to achieve and how you will monitor the progress.
- Choose a team that fits your brand. Find a team that shares the same values and customer approach as you, for a smooth transition so customers feel that they are part of your business.
- Review security and legal risks. Before signing into contracts, determine how much customer data you’ll expose to the outsourced team. Check their data protection systems too, and review contracts carefully.
- Acquire the right tools. You’ll need to have unified communication as well as customer support tools to work closely with your outsourced team. Invest in the right tools and channels to streamline your collaboration.
Making your customers happy is vital in maintaining your business, and with outsourcing, you can leverage specialists to do the work for you.
Just keep in mind that there are benefits and drawbacks, but if you choose the right customer support team and build good work relationships with them, you’ll see more satisfied customers and more sales rolling in.