You could be a startup business thinking of ways to grow rapidly. Or, you could be a company inundated with customer service concerns you need to address all at the same. Or, you could be a company missing a lot of opportunities because you just have too many things on your mind. You could just be having too many things that are important for you, all of them needing undivided focus. Each of them requires detailed focus on inputs, processes and results. Whether you’re a startup, an SME, or a large enterprise, these keep you awake all day, all night. Then you hear about outsourcing? Does it help? Do you need, for example, to outsource customer support?
In focus: Your customer support processes
Your concerns could be the same as those in the above situations. Business growth and expansion, supplies, delivery and fulfillment, people and organization management, customer satisfaction, engagement and loyalty: these are large blocks of thoughts all demanding attention. In this article, let’s talk about your customer support. How are you handling it? Is it taking out so much time from your day-to-day business hours? Is it taking out even more of your time because having an online presence is just a must nowadays?
Now, of course, you can’t do away with customers altogether because they are the reason your business exists. On the other hand, you just can’t focus on them alone, otherwise, it would just be a conversation with a lot of people and not a business. So, how do you balance your business and the reason for its existence? Do you need help? Do you need to outsource? What are the signs that your business needs to outsource its customer support processes?
Signs and misconceptions in outsourcing customer support
In order not to mess up with the signs, let’s first talk about a few misconceptions.
Planning, not a quick solution
First, deciding to outsource customer support should not come from a need for a quick solution. You, of course, want a solution, but keep in mind that you need a plan for this. What you would want is consistency in your brand image, and your customer service should be able to uphold that. Consider the time you need to prepare your outsourced customer support, then work your way backward the process. Make the process input as perfect as you can so you’ll get your desired results at the end.
Quality, not cost reduction
Second, the main reason for outsourcing a customer support team should not be about cost reduction. Now, this doesn’t mean that you must no longer bother with thinking about outsourcing because they could only incur expenses. What this means, instead, is that you need need to keep in mind that it also costs to maintain quality. Well, outsourcing a call center outsourcing company already means you don’t have to form a team on your own. There is no longer a need for your HR to hire more people, or, if you’re just starting out, to hire an HR to hire customer support employees. With that out of the way, you can focus your resources, and no longer much of it, on ensuring quality.
Communicate your expected quality to your outsourced company and they should be able to ensure it for you. You should be able to get the quality you require at corresponding costs. Costs vary depending on the specific services you need, but it should be significantly lower than doing it on your own. Bottom line, the cost should be reasonable enough to ensure quality.
Maintaining responsibility, not doing away with it
Third, outsourcing your customer support should not be about getting away with responsibility. While having to be there for daily customer support duties is no longer your burden, your customers remain your responsibility. Your outsourced team is an extension of yourself, your company, make them feel connected so they’ll be as responsive to your customers as though you’re the one doing it personally.
With the misconceptions out of the way, the signs should be visible enough whether or not to outsource your customer support.
Now, there are signs you could see early. Road signs, for example, tell you what to expect when you go further, allowing you to anticipate what’s ahead. Similarly, in your business journey, some signs allow you to anticipate and plan ahead.
If you’re looking at a faster business development solution early on to support your limited network of clients and then sustain your business, then outsourcing could be for you. A remote team could handle processes such as lead generation, follow-up, conversion, and monitoring of potential and new clients. David Villa, a CEO, best-selling author, trainer and speaker, in his Forbes article (24 August 2021) said, this increases support coverage quickly and ensures customer satisfaction right from the start.
Who can do it better?
Whether to outsource or to do it on your own is up to you. In deciding, though, see who can do it better, whether you or some outsourced company. The top question to keep in mind is whether you can do the single thing best; in our case, customer support. This question is on top of the list in a recent Forbes article (8 October 2021). According to the article, this comes from the principle business owners must abide by, “do what you do best and outsource the rest.” Should you think outsourcing is the better option, then you could expect better handling of the processes enumerated above. The article ensures this as we are already “in an age where specialists exist for nearly every outsourced responsibility.”
With their expertise, not only could you expect better processes, but call center outsourcing companies are also flexible. They can adjust to your requirements and can even be available for 24/7 support. Also, since they have anticipated those concerns already, they already have tools available even for call center services for small businesses.
Your business may already be up and running right now, and already with a customer support capability. But then you wonder how might it be better as you are flooded with customer support concerns, taking you away from your other important tasks. Perhaps the question to ask is: what defines a good customer support experience? This question could be welling out from the need to establish or maintain a brand image and the need to sustain brand reputation through an ideal customer support experience. If indeed, that is the root cause of your concern, then you need something that would result in an enhanced customer support experience.
In your striving towards the desired result, you may have gone over-budget, and tedious customer support processes have become repetitive. So, you would want an enhanced customer support experience that could, at the same time, lower operational costs. Also, you would want such process not only to be enhanced but streamlined as well.
Logan Rush, founder and CEO of a call-center services provider, in his Forbes article (15 June 2021) enumerates the elements of what makes a good customer support experience. For our purposes, let’s look at their common themes.
Providing a warm and welcoming atmosphere for customers.
To do this, the customer support team or staff must be able to consistently provide and maintain such composure. The team or staff must also have the capability to exude such warmth to customers and sustain it all day.
Promptness in responding to customers’ concerns.
Customers, especially those trying to reach you through customer support, hate waiting in line. The last thing they want, after going through the phone instructions and listening to the looped waiting music, is a support staff needing to hold the line to look for an answer. For promptness, you would need not only a helpful staff or team, but they must also be ready and well-informed.
Fostering meaningful and rewarding relationships with customers.
Fostering, of course, needs time. To develop it with time, make sure that both sides are experiencing getting into not only a meaningful relationship but also a rewarding one. You can make it substantial with actual rewards: Reward returning customers with after-sales care, and reward their loyalty with some perks or exclusives. Also, reward the team or customer support for a job well done or for going an extra mile.
Again, your customers are the reason you exist, might as well provide meaning also to their existence as your customers.
Now, to fulfill all these, if you think you need help from an outsourcing or BPO company, then go ahead. But, again, communicate your needs with them and, for sure, they’ll be able to deliver specifically whatever result you need.
Signs needing revisiting
You may have already spent so much time and resources for customer support, missing along the way some business opportunities. Every time you look at the results, all you can think of are the could-have-beens. It is at those moments when you realize effects could have been anticipated and some adjustments could have been implemented. Before that happens again, let’s revisit some signs you might have missed or ignored.
First: first impression.
Okay, so you already have a website. Now, how can customers get in touch with you? How many clicks do they need to get to the information to get to contact you? Are your FAQs enough to meet their concerns or do they come off as you showing indifference?
Readiness entails being able to anticipate questions, even random ones coming in through your website or your social media pages. Ensure promptness by having processes, human-like algorithms or actual moderators ready to respond on cue. This not only assures a warm welcome at all fronts but also enriches the customer support experience. Remember, first impression is important, and it happens even if you’re not looking.
Second, the reverse side: first touch resolution.
If first impression is the obverse side of a coin, first touch resolution is the reverse side. For an enriched and well-rounded first impression, your resolution should be as quick as the flip of a coin.
Generally, customers hate waiting in line. They want everything to be instant. As much as possible, limit resolution of concerns to just one phone call, one email or chat reply, or one polite, direct message in social media. So, by instant, they want minimal effort. Now, this is also good for your customer support, isn’t it? A concern successfully resolved with minimum effort－a single reply, an immediate resolution－is a job well done.
Third: omnichannel support.
While we’re at it, let’s consider all those fronts as “omnichannel” needing an omnichannel approach. There are inquiries that can be resolved with a single reply, but some customer concerns need assistance or guidance. With the available technology today giving birth to Siri and Alexa and making augmented reality possible, customer expectations increased dramatically. Customers, smartphone on hand or whatever wearable device, not only want to reach you, but to talk to you live. Here, first impression goes a long way and is sustained, provided that the one facing the customer is trained and well-equipped. Readiness, promptness and, also, showing signs of life, visible at all fronts, really make for a great first impression.
Benefits of customer service outsourcing
It is already common, nowadays, to shift or outsource some business processes by hiring a BPO company. Customer service is among the top outsourced processes. Here’s a quick rundown of the benefits of outsourcing from a Zendesk article (updated 29 June 2021).
Flexibility. Well, as mentioned earlier, call center outsourcing companies already have the tools ready and can adjust according to your specifications. If a 24/7 customer service is what you need, then they’ll set up a team for you.
Access to specialized expertise. Again, as said earlier, there are now very specialized skills for nearly any outsourced responsibility. Now, it is most likely that you can find the specialized expertise you require in a well-established BPO company.
Agility. BPOs understand that what their clients want is to be able to develop new business quickly, scale faster while staying focused on what they think for their businesses as more important tasks.
Outsourcing, therefore, is a great way to optimize business processes while minimizing costs. At this point, we can define what customer service outsourcing is. Outsourcing customer service through a BPO means hiring a contact center (BPO) wherein their team of experts and agents learn your products, services, policies and brand voice to resolve customer concerns across various channels on your behalf.
If you choose to outsource to a fully-trained call center partner, expect then to scale up your business, and even to increase global coverage, all significantly lesser than doing it on your own. But again, ask, do you need help with your customer support processes? If you need to act now, can you do it yourself or do you need to outsource? Again, do what you do best; as for the rest, you can outsource them.
One question remains, though. Who do you outsource? StratAccess can help you with that. We can help you with your requirements and find the right BPO for you. We at StratAccess can help you move forward.
Here are links to some of our service categories to help you get started.
StratAccess Inc. (StratAccess), established in 2012, is committed to finding the best centers in the Philippines for its clients for successful BPO solutions. The company is focused on transforming the landscape of call center partnerships to meet the requirements of today’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). StratAccess consultants are attuned to helping clients take a hard look at their business objectives, current organization infrastructure, and operational practices.
We at StratAccess strive to build long-term relationships that extend beyond the typical vendor-client transactions. Our primary focus is to successfully promote and serve each client’s products or services as though they are our own. Combined with the skill and knowledge of the Philippine outsourcing industry, our company has positioned itself as a leader in delivering its clients access to qualified quality and cost-effective BPO referrals.
Ivan Deligero is a contributing author at StratAccess. He likes deep dives into the bottom of things and sharing discoveries and strategies towards desired goals. His years of exposure in different industries have led to a deeper insight into organizational structures and operations, as well as the importance of process improvement. In his free time, he also reads and writes about some recent thoughts in philosophy.