Outsourcing customer support
Sometimes giving your customers the best customer support means outsourcing those services. It’s a common practice for larger online businesses, but it can also grant new opportunities for smaller businesses. How to make external customer support work and what are the benefits?
- How does outsourcing customer support work
- Which processes should be outsourced?
- When is outsourcing customer support a good idea?
- Benefits of outsourcing customer support
- Disadvantages of outsourcing customer support
How does outsourcing customer support work?
If you’re thinking about outsourcing your customer support, there are several ways to go about it.
Processes to outsource
You can choose to outsource all of your customer support to a third party, or stay in charge of some processes. There are a lot of options, so knowing what your company needs and what you want is necessary before you contact a supplier.
Some online businesses outsource their customer support in the evenings and weekends, so that customers can contact them 24/7. This way, an online store doesn’t need to hire agents that handle those shifts. You can also decide to outsource simple queries. Most larger online stores handle their customer support this way: some processes are outsourced, while more complicated questions are handled by the business itself.
Online stores with a customer database can easily transfer those details to a third party
To be able to send customers their orders, online stores save their customer’s details. To keep a good overview of this data, most online businesses work with a database or CRM-software. Keeping a structured overview makes it easier to share these details with a third party. When a customer calls with a question, a third party can easily look up these details and help the customer.
Outsource standard customer support questions
If you’ve been running an online business for a while, you’ve probably noticed that most incoming customer support queries are about the same set of topics. Most online businesses come up with automated answers or templates to send these queries, but transferring these questions to a third party can save a lot of time.
Transferring standard support questions to a third party saves you a lot of time.
Questions about product details or materials might be more suited to be handled by your business itself, because you know your products better than a third party. But questions about shipping, return policies, and about ordering on your website can easily be dealt with by a customer support supplier. Questions about payments could also be handled by them, but if it gets too complicated, they can be transferred back to your business.
When should you outsource your customer support processes?
Whether outsourcing your customer support is a good fit for your online business, depends on several factors. If you notice that too much time and effort is going into answering queries, outsourcing can help you focus on other aspects of your online store, such as finding new products.
Fulfilment service providers can also take over customer support for online stores.
When online stores use a fulfilment partner that handles their inventory and logistical processes, sometimes these partners also take over customer support. For most online stores, this is an easy way to outsource several processes to one partner.
Getting to know the benefits and disadvantages of outsourcing customer support can also help you decide whether or not it’s a good move for your online business.
Benefits of outsourcing customer support
There are several benefits to outsourcing customer support:
Easier to upscale in peak season
Every business has to deal with peaks in which a lot more orders are placed by customers. For online stores, the holidays are usually very busy. Customers have high expectations of customer service, they want quick resolutions to their issues. A third party specializing in customer support will be able to upscale quickly during these peaks. They are known for their scalability and will make sure that your customers still receive the best service during those busy weeks.
Better availability by phone
High expectations from customers also means that they have high expectations concerning your availability by phone. If your support desk is only reachable during office hours, not all customers will be able to reach you. Online shoppers prefer to do so in the weekends or evenings and if an issue comes up for them while browsing your online store during those hours, they will have to wait longer for a response.
Having a call center dealing with your customer support means that your businesses will be more reachable by phone. These suppliers have more agents available to answer more calls and can also make sure that your business is reachable outside of regular office hours. This way, you’ll make sure that your customers always hears a friendly voice.
Having a team at different locations can help your company by being reachable outside of office hours.
Saves time and costs
Though outsourcing means paying a third party for your customer support, in many cases it actually saves a lot of money and time. You no longer need to invest in training your employees, in the best software as well as hiring more employees during peak moments. It also means that you can focus on other aspects of your business.
Customer support in multiple languages
If you’re already a crossborder online business or thinking about selling to several countries, outsourcing means that you can offer more language options in customer support. If you choose a supplier that has call centers in different countries, this means that customers can talk to someone in their own language and timezone.
Overall, a third party specialized in customer support will have the tools and knowledge to provide outstanding customer support. Given that your customer’s experience is an important factor in making a customer a loyal one, outsourcing can increase this chance.
Disadvantages of outsourcing
While it has many benefits, there are also some disadvantages you should pay attention to. Businesses are often hesitant about outsourcing because they fear that they won’t have any control over the quality of customer care. Making sure that your ideas of great customer care align with the party you want to hire can help.
When outsourcing customer support started becoming more popular, many businesses outsourced their customer support to a call center in Asia. This was cheaper than suppliers within Europe. Some customers nowadays fear that an outsourced customer support means that they will have to talk to an agent who is just following a rigid script. However, with the growing amount of suppliers for customer care, most of them are finely attuned to your customer’s cultural needs. Most suppliers are able to reflect your business’ identity as well.