Many growing businesses find it tough to identify the right time to outsource some, if not all of their customer services.
It’s a scary step, allowing your customers to interact with people who they think are employed by your company, but are actually outsourced customer service representatives.
In our experience, clients will often go through years of pain before they finally decide that outsourcing is necessary for them to continue to grow, and maintain service standards.
So, that being said, how do you know whether it’s time to outsource your customer services?
1. When it feels like Groundhog Day
Are you going through the same pressure points year after year with your customer services?
We often see this with seasonal companies that have much higher peaks at certain times of the year – primarily within the retail sector.
Your employees probably talk about it in the weeks or months leading up to the ‘busy period’, and how much they dread it.
An outsourced solution can offer an extra pair of hands at your busiest times. And the beauty of outsourcing is that you only pay for what you need. When your levels return to normal, you can bring everything back in house.
2. When stress begins affecting service
The stress generated by the pressure on limited resources can affect customer experience. Stress, as you will know, is bad for staff morale and for your customers.
Your staff won’t be able to provide the best possible customer service if they’re worrying about all the queued calls or the other jobs they have to complete by the end of the day.
On the other hand, if their day job isn’t solely focused on customer services, the rest of their work might not be completed. Depending on their areas of responsibility, this might lead to more calls from unhappy customers.
If this rings true, then you should consider if its time to outsource your customer services. We’ve heard from clients who tell us it has helped improve staff morale and retain their valued employees (rather than driving them to seek a less stressful job elsewhere).
Just as importantly, it is also likely to help improve your overall customer experience.
3. When you’re getting bad reviews
Bad news travels fast, especially in the online world. If you’re dishing out poor customer service, people will write about it on review sites, blogs and social media.
It’s even more important now than it’s ever been, as 67% of consumers are influenced by online reviews.
Of course it’s difficult to control the types of reviews you get. After all, some people just like to complain. But there’s no doubt that 10 five-star endorsements can be undone by one bad review.
You can improve customer satisfaction by cutting waiting times and improving first-contact resolution rates. A happy customer will tell their friends, family and the wider world (through social media) about your business – we see it all the time with our clients. You could do this by employing more in-house customer service agents or using a specialist outsourced contact centre (like us).
4. When you’re planning to launch a new product, service or sales promotion
You might be in the planning stages of launching a new product or service that could have a really positive impact on your business.
But often the little details are forgotten. Do you know if your inbound enquiries are likely to increase overall? By how much? Do you have contingency?
When your new product or service launches its already too late, customers are expecting you to be fully ‘geared up’ for its launch. And when they’re left to fend for themselves, you can expect some negative reviews and reputational damage.
But all is fine, because you’re still in the planning stages of launching your new service…and you’re reading this blog! It’s now up to you what you do with this knowledge…
5. When you’re entering new markets
So your business (let’s say it’s based in the UK) is trying to expand into new markets and it’s working – great! Customers are interacting with your brand online and they’re contacting you to find out about their order.
But here’s the problem: these new markets don’t share your timezone. When your new customer in Los Angeles is chasing up their order after finishing at the office, it’s 3:00am here in the UK.
Sure, you could get an agent to work night shifts. But finding a willing employee, at a reasonable rate of pay, who will be available every day of the year, might be harder than you think.
To really cater to these new and exciting markets, you’ll need to find a way to service them.
A 24/7 outsourced customer service provider can help you with these enquiries. You’ll be able to take payments throughout the night, making money while you sleep. Now doesn’t that sound like a dream?
6. When you’re growing…fast
Growth can be unexpected and rapid (anyone who’s mowed their lawn throughout a changeable summer will know what we mean!) Some of our clients have been forced to rope in their warehouse operatives to help with customer service enquiries when it just gets too much for the in-house team to control.
Warehouse operatives are undoubtedly great at what they do – that’s why you hired them for their job. But you probably didn’t hire them for their world class communication abilities – and your customers will notice.
At the same time, any staff you redeploy will face the same workload when they return to their post. This could mean orders go unfulfilled and customers call up to complain…a vicious cycle.
When you’re experiencing fast growth, resist the temptation to continue with the same old infrastructure. Investment will be needed to maintain your growth and build upon it.
7. When you’re struggling to recruit
Recruiting the right staff into your business can be a difficult and resource heavy experience.
Not only do you need to find the right staff, you will need to train them to your systems, altogether this process can take months – not very effective if you need to scale up your customer services quickly.
Recruitment comes with other cost you may not have thought about, for instance, if you recruit a few more people into the business, can you fit them into your current office space? – Do you have enough equipment to properly ‘kit’ them out?
If recruiting customer service representatives is becoming an ongoing hassle, maybe it’s time to outsource. It’s their obligation to acquire the right staff, train them proficiently and pay them a monthly salary. Now doesn’t that sound much easier?