More and more organizations have started outsourcing their customer service functions to third-party companies. From monitoring and managing emails, voice, fax and real-time chats to receiving website orders or queries, customer service functions are probably the most outsourced back office support today. This is not surprising at all given that outsourcing customer services bring a number of benefits to the table, including reduced overhead costs, improved productivity and better focus on core business tasks.
Despite the aforesaid benefits of customer service outsourcing, however, many companies are still not convinced that this is a good option for their business. Often, the root of such skepticism can be attributed to the wrong information that abounds regarding customer service outsourcing.
A post from RealBusines.co.uk lists down five of the most common misconceptions about customer service outsourcing and the truth behind them.
Language can be a barrier
A typical complaint about outsourcing to an overseas firm is that communication issues often arise due to language barrier. Sure, there are instances when people call customer service or call centers for assistance and fail to get the solutions they want because there is a language barrier. However, this is not often the case in some outsourcing locations like the Philippines.
As one of the top customer service outsourcing hubs, the Philippines boasts excellent language skills, with a huge-portion of its workforce being English-literate. This in turn enables Filipino customer service representatives to better deal with western clients. Beyond this, multilingual staff is also increasing in number, thereby providing better service for non-English speaking clients.
Work quality can be compromised
Quality is always an important factor when it comes to delivering customer service as this is one element that ensures client satisfaction and improved customer relations. Unfortunately, many companies fear that the level of quality they expect will not be met if they outsource their customer service to other firms.
While the level of quality can be subjective when it comes to outsourcing, it cannot be discounted that a good number of companies choose to outsource their tasks because they achieve better output compared when they are doing them in-house. In fact, in one research mentioned by RealBusiness, many companies continue to engage in outsourcing contract because such approach helped enhance the quality of their customer service in a variety of ways. These include issue tracking and reporting, 24/7 availability, backup coverage for peak call times and multilingual support. All these prove that outsourcing can provide multiple opportunities for enhancement, which in turn heightens the level of quality a company can deliver to its customers.
Too much time will be spent on training agents
In order for an outsourcing firm to provide the needed level of customer service, there is a necessity for the client company to provide trainings for the outsourcer’s agents. For this reason, many executives are reluctant to enter into an outsourcing arrangement because they think they will spend a huge amount of time doing trainings, which equates to higher costs for the company.
However, in most cases, the client company only needs to deliver initial training to the first and second batch of agents. Succeeding rounds of trainings would then be provided by managers and trainers. To avoid training fade, though, the client company should still offer ongoing training for its in-house staff, who would eventually assume the responsibility of providing intensive education to the outsourcer’s agents.
Lack of control over the outsourcer
Given that most outsourcing companies are located overseas, a lot of executives are concerned that they might not be able to properly manage their offshore partners due to geographical distance, which might lead to substantial errors that could jeopardize the company’s operations. However, client companies can take control of an outsourced customer service even from afar by collaborating closely with their outsourcing firms. Before the contract is signed and work gets underway, proper communication channels and responsibilities should be defined so that customer issues will not be accidentally abandoned and critical issues are addressed in a timely manner. Nonetheless, technologies like webchats and video conferences can be set up to keep in touch with the outsourcer and its agents.
It is expensive
For any company that has relied on an in-house customer service function, switching to outsourcing is a huge step that often brings the idea of six-figure set-up fees and huge amount of expenses. While this might be true in the past, cloud technology solutions and more flexible workforce in many countries make it possible for outsourcing to become more economical in recent years. In fact, many companies have done away with these set-up fees as there are outsourcers that do not charge such payments for their services.