7 Steps to Succeed at Customer Service Outsourcing

By Nick Tubis, Chief Marketing Officer

As mobile apps consume a larger portion of our attention and shopping dollars, it’s easy to emphasize the smart over the phone. It’s not surprising — you can summon a car to pick you up, you can order food delivered to your door, and you can interact instantly with people half a world away.

About three-fourths of all Americans own a smartphone, with adoption climbing fastest among people ages 50 and over and with lower income people. Two years ago, only 35 percent reported smartphone ownership.

Those smartphones are also becoming the favorite way to interact with your company. From chatbots to web forms to email to voice calls, the smartphone links your customers to your brand. Get it wrong, and you can lose customers for good.

That’s where omnichannel customer service outsourcing can take your customer experience platform to the next level. The goal is to be where your customers already are and meet them there with the service they can’t live without.

Even as traditional phone call centers remain the backbone of customer support strategies, successful companies are taking an omni channel approach to engaging customers in emerging customer contact channels.

The Forrester Research Inc. report “Top Trends for Customer Service in 2017: Operations Become Smarter and More Strategic,” confirms the trend toward omni channel customer service rather than a phone-only strategy.

According to Forrester, customers of all ages are moving away from using the phone to using self-service — web and mobile self-service, communities, virtual agents, automated chat dialogs, or chatbots — as the first point of contact with a company. Dimension Data reports growth in every digital channel and a 12% decrease in phone volume.

Companies are not abandoning traditional customer service channels but instead adding new channels as they become popular with customers.

With omni channel customer service outsourcing, you can leverage the power of an existing support center infrastructure. Using a trusted partner reduces capital expenses and allows your enterprise to scale as needed for business growth or in response to seasonal events.

To set up your omni channel customer service outsourcing center, here are 7 steps to keep in mind:

1. Analyze customer preferences

While phone support will continue to be a popular contact channel, analyze other channels such as the Contact Us page on your website, social media, chatbots and other tech options. Surveys can help uncover customer preferences as well. You don’t have to engage in every social media channel out there. Instead, you can train your customers where to find you.

2. Establish goals

Determine your key objectives, e.g. customer acquisition, retention or technical support. These teams will look different depending on your KPIs. Knowing your end game will drive strategic and staffing decisions.

3. Customer Service Outsourcing

A Deloitte survey found that 54% of companies outsource simple Tier 1 customer service inquiries, and 37% also outsource more complex Tier 2 transactions. Because the customer service segment is mature, there are many experienced partners available. These vendors can offer deep insights gained from many more interactions than a single company might experience on its own.

4. Physical or virtual?

Your outsourced customer service support center can be physical or virtual. Some vendors use hybrid solutions to attract and retain appropriate agents and scale to meet customer demands. A physical location has agents all together in a typical call-center setting. Virtual agents may work from home or other locations. An outsourced partner can staff 24/7 using agents in different time zones for example. A trusted vendor may offer a blend of physical and virtual to control costs and improve agent retention.

5. Hire the best agents

Selecting the right agents depends on your customer service outsourcing strategy. A call center focused on sales or customer retention will deploy different staff than a technical support center. In any case, the quality of support hinges on the caliber of the customer service agents. Work with an outsourcing vendor that screens for both aptitude and attitude. Many skills can be taught, but the ability to stay focused in stressful situations or to deal with difficult customers is a highly valued attitude that an agent already possesses.

6. Focus on infrastructure

For your omnichannel customer service outsourcing work with a vendor that has made appropriate investments in hardware and software to support your strategy. From headsets to data security, your vendor should be equipped to handle your demands.

7. Facilitate success.

Develop a training and review process with your outsourced customer service vendor. Engage the customer service staff in developing scripts and scenarios based on common questions and comments that come in via the various channels available. Ensure the work environment support physical and psychological comfort, and reward agents appropriately for sales and other milestones. Even with all the technology available, customer service is still a people business

Ultimately, the success of your customer care center is not driven your amazing technology. It depends on the people using that technology and how well they care for your customers.

Omni-channel isn’t a technology strategy. It’s a customer caring strategy that starts with listening to your customers first. To optimize your omnichannel customer service outsourcing strategy, partner with a vendor that’s as committed to helping your customers as you are.

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