Outsourcing customer service without losing your brand

4 min read

We all know of businesses with notorious call centers. Poor service, long wait times, rough reception, and lack of expertise can drastically affect a company’s reputation. Customer service can become a company’s main talking point, but the inability to provide basic customer service sticks.

With the available technologies connecting businesses with customers, there’s no reason why you customer service can’t be outstanding. And if it’s not, potential customers will know about it based on online reviews and ratings.

But outsourcing your customer service doesn’t have to bring you business down. Outsourcing can save on expenses, but most importantly, it allows you to leave your customer service in the hands of trained professionals. So you hope.

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Many companies have discovered the joys of lower costs of living. They’ve outsourced parts of their business to cut down on workforce costs. Why pay more than you have to right? Well, sometimes deals are too good (or inexpensive) to be true (or effective). Don’t sacrifice quality for savings.

Many business owners will advise against outsourcing overseas because it can take away from your brand. Regardless of the training and system in place, it just isn’t the same. Of course, outsourcing doesn’t have to go overseas. There are plenty of domestic businesses that work as customer service departments for other companies. And if your offices stretches internationally, it’s best to situate your customer service within that consumer community.

But, with your company divided, how can you trust and maintain that your outsourced customer service partners are representing your brand effectively?

Choose Wisely

There’s a lot involved in outsourcing a department, especially one that directly represents your company.

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After all, if you choose a third party provider that you’re not happy with, it’s not like you can just turn around and find a replacement. A lot of training goes into outsourcing in order to effectively represent your brand, answer technical questions, and walk customers through challenging processes. Imagine doing all of this more than once.

Of course, having a middle man can sometimes overcomplicate things in terms of communicating information, especially when multiple languages, processes, and services are involved.

Communication is the meat-and-potatoes of customer service. For this reason, your business should be concerned with your customer service partner’s communication skills, both with the customer and with your business.

Do some research into different companies that offer outsourced customer service. Don’t settle for the cheapest; weigh your options in terms of language skills that would cater to your customer base.

Your ideal outsourced customer service partner should exhibit effective language skills in English, as well as any other popular languages amongst your customer base. Additionally, employees should be familiar with various accents as much as they are for different attitudes.

Although the individual customer service hiring side is not up to you, it’s important to understand the skills and abilities that third party providers offer. This can be achieved by viewing online reviews of the outsourcing business itself. (Now we’re getting meta.)

Set Guidelines

Your company’s culture gives you an edge on competitors. Don’t take it for granted. Connecting with your customers keeps them coming back. Similarly, when selecting a third party provider, choose one that meshes well with your company’s culture.

As states, “It costs more to get a new customer than to up-sell to an existing customer. That is why customer service and satisfaction is so important.”

When you outsource, the disconnect between your business and the customer service provider can harm your business. To avoid clouding your brand, you should set guidelines for your service partners to follow.

For the sake of your brand, enforce a standard. Without any basis, each customer will experience a different standard of service, and with experience comes expectation. Part of your brand is maintaining a standard of expectations. Your customer service partner needs extensive training on how your business runs, including the company culture.

Your outsourcing partner should be a seamless extension of your business. That’s why they’re called “partners”.

Keep Communication Open

Customer service isn’t just about having reps that can walk customers through repeated issues. It’s about advocating for all customers, taking feedback, and communicating that feedback where it matters. Without being open to suggestions, your business dries up like cement. What does cement do?

Nothing. No growth. Nothing.

The tricky side of customer service is accountability (that is, knowing that your standards are being upheld by outsourced partners). Your business should conduct regular reviews, provide customers with surveys after dealing with a representative, and act on customer feedback.

Customers will figure out pretty quickly if their feedback and concerns are being taken seriously based on changes made and the time it takes to implement. Many call centers have employees trained to assist with repeated issues and questions but don’t take any steps to correct or avoid these issues.

Shareable metrics keep management in the know. In terms of performance indicators, you should review your CSAT (customer satisfaction score), NPS (net promoter score), active vs. resolved issues, average resolution time, and customer retention.

By having an open stream of metrics between your business and your third party provider, you’re able to nip issues in the bud, rather than let representatives provide bandaid solutions for every issue.

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