More and more companies are considering the possibility of outsourcing their customer support functions to an external organization. But the analysis of all the pros and cons of this approach can be confusing even for an experienced manager. Still, with the right preparation, the benefits of this process will outweigh the potential drawbacks. This article will teach you how to prepare and get the most out of your partnership with an outsourcing customer support organization.
So, here’s what is important in this matter.
Define your goals and desired results of outsourcing cooperation
Understanding your goals will help both you and your outsourcing partner to correctly prioritize work. Planning results will allow you to set your expectations and enable an outsourcing vendor to manage them properly. The results should be measurable so that you can record them and monitor their implementation from time to time.
Improved quality of customer service, improved quality of your product, money-savings – all this can be recorded in numbers that will be guides that are helpful for both parties. Also, this will be useful at the stage of negotiating the terms of a contract.
Find a suitable outsourcing partner
Nowadays, the variety of outsourcing companies is greater than ever. But quantity does not mean quality; plus, it complicates searches. So don’t look for the lowest cost of services – cheaper doesn’t mean better. Instead, take a comprehensive look at all the benefits of a particular outsourcing company, such as:
- experience in the market;
- soft skills of support agents;
- the ability to quickly increase/decrease the number of support agents if necessary;
- professional development programs for support agents;
- detailed tracking of calls in the tracking system, recording of incoming calls;
- customer care strategy;
- maturity of internal processes.
Analyze the usefulness of your outsourcing company from time to time. As in the case of other services, don’t be afraid to change the company if you see that it doesn’t suit you. A failed attempt doesn’t mean that outsourcing is not your thing but rather speaks of a one-time unsuccessful choice of a contractor.
The outsourcing model of client support has proven its effectiveness over the years, so you shouldn’t reject all its advantages because of one negative experience. Try to choose an outsourcing partner following other criteria, search for it via recommendations of your business network, or contact recognized leaders in this field.
Transfer knowledge well
The quality of your outsourcing team’s work depends on how fully you transfer the necessary knowledge to them. Of course, the agents’ skills will help them provide a good level of customer support even without special knowledge, but for the best results, the outsourced support team must possess the following information:
- peculiarities of your product;
- peculiarities of your clients;
- quality standards of your support service;
- your behavior patterns in conflict or problem situations.
Transfer your quality standards, training manuals, and scripts for communicating with clients to the outsourcing partner so that its agents can work as part of your company. The synergy of skills, the experience of the outsourcing partner’s support team, and your specialized knowledge will give the maximum effect from such cooperation.
Incidentally, be ready for the need to modify your standards/behaviors or knowledge bases. Outsourcing companies are those that have experience with such things and can tell you the possibilities for their improvement.
Establish regular and effective communication
Regardless of your product’s specifics, you will need to regularly communicate with the outsourcing partner on the current state of affairs, problem analysis, KPIs, feedback from support agents, etc. The outsourcing partner’s willingness to constructively discuss such issues indicates their attitude towards you as a customer.
For instance, if the company prefers communicating via email and is passive in discussing the above topics, this is a red flag. After all, a professional outsourcing company is supposed to approach your needs and expectations actively and attentively. In other words, your outsourcing partner is supposed to demonstrate the same approach to you as to your clients. Communication plays a critical role here, so don’t underestimate it.
What your business partner is discussing, how they prefer to communicate, whether they listen to you, whether they are constructive, whether they share expertise for your benefit – these are the markers that can help you predict if your future cooperation is going to be fruitful. On the plus side, this can be assessed at the initial stages of your work together.
Along with that, you need to promptly and fully convey all new information to your support team, which is necessary for their work. This can be product knowledge updates, new information about clients, changes to your scripts, etc. If such information is not received on time, outsourcing agents won’t be able to provide high-quality support to your clients and the service level will drop – nobody wants this. That’s why effective communication is a concern for both parties, as it is essential for overall success.
Control the final result
One of the aims of delegating work to an outsourcing vendor is to free up your resources so that they can focus on something more important to your company. But this doesn’t mean that you can forget about monitoring the final result at all. At least at the first stage of cooperation, you need to actively monitor your new team’s performance and planned key performance indicators (KPIs).
You can abandon this micromanagement later, when you’re sure that your new team of agents works at the proper level and properly represents your company to clients. Here are our tips for monitoring the work of an outsourcing partner:
- agree on a format for regular reports, which will suit you;
- test the work of your agents as a secret shopper;
- check KPIs no fewer than once every 2 weeks;
- analyze the work of the agents in difficult problem situations;
- monitor tendencies in customers’ responses.
No matter how professional the work of outsourcing agents is, there is a high probability that clients will notice the changes. Therefore, it is recommended to monitor the reaction of your clients even more closely than before and make adjustments to the outsourcing company’s work and KPI, if necessary.
Remember that damage from poor quality customer support can seriously damage your business reputation. However, by following our above recommendations and keeping your eye on the ball, you can prevent this. And the high-quality work of specialized support agents will bring the reputation of your company and your product to a new level.
Efficient outsourcing collaboration frees up your resources and opens up new opportunities. What can you use this newly available working time on? Think about it. Strategic issues, ideas for product improvement, process optimization – you choose what to spend your energy on. And support is now the task of those responsible for it.
We at Andersen believe that working with a professional outsourcing partner is beneficial for both parties, and in the case of customer support, clients as a third party benefit as well. High-quality and well-organized customer support can increase your clients’ satisfaction and loyalty. That’s why we strain to provide high-quality support services and continuously evolve to be among the best on the market. Contact us to find out how our experience and expertise can help your business.