Whether you're staffing up for your seasonal busy period, considering how you can build capacity in your customer service team, or are thinking more generally about the cost base and structure of your business in uncertain times, hiring outsourced live chat customer service agents should be a very serious consideration.
Yet quite often, there is a negative stigma attached to outsourcing customer service, as it brings to mind poor call centre experiences: long hold queues, operators following scripts with little or no flexibility etc.
However the perception of outsourced customer service as a cheap, commodity-based compromise is outdated. In fact with the right partner, for the right use cases, the decision to outsource customer service can dramatically improve the customer service you deliver.
WHAT DOES OUTSOURCING CUSTOMER SERVICE MEAN?
Outsourcing customer service is when a business contracts some or all of its customer-facing communication channels to a third-party.
Historically this has most commonly been to contact centre services, where agents are trained in handling incoming business calls. More recently, with advancements in technology and online services, there are a growing number of platforms offering the ability to hire channel, service and sector specialist agents.
Consequently the balance in service provision is shifting, away from purely telephone based communications, with that seen as the focus for highly trained, in-house resource, and the final stage of resolution.
By comparison, with consumers increasingly expecting and demanding customer service live chat, this channel has become a specialist outsourced service, acting as a first point of resolution, filtering customer requirements before referring to more expensive, in-house teams.
IS OUTSOURCING CUSTOMER SERVICE RIGHT FOR YOU?
In order to make sure that the decision to hire chat agents is the right decision for your business, you need to think carefully about the use case you are looking for them to help with, and whether it is going to be the right fit.
Here are four things to consider when looking to outsource customer service:
1. MAKE A DECISION BASED ON VALUE
Yes, one of the major benefits of outsourcing customer service is cost, it will invariably be cheaper than hiring an additional member of staff. However, if you are purely driven by cost and thus opt for the cheapest solution, you may be asking outsourced agents to help with technical issues that they must continually defer to your team, which will undermine any efficiency gain. Pick the solution that offers you a cost benefit over in-house management, but prioritises the quality of their service, ensuring you reap maximum return.
2. Consider YOUR PARTICULAR use case
Are there certain repetitive tasks that take up hours of your employees valuable time? Perhaps it is a particular type of communication with your customers which requires immediate response which you can’t guarantee on a 24/7 basis? If these communication channels can’t be fully automated without loss of service, then outsourcing could be a fantastic way to save cost and free up your internal resource to focus their efforts more effectively.
3. Be prepared to invest in the partnership
A good outsourcing partner should guide you through the process and ease any initial concerns you have about their ability to handle conversations on your behalf. And they should invest significant time in training and knowledge building. However, it is your business and you understand your brand and tone of voice better than anyone. Therefore, work with your partner and don’t be afraid to provide guidance where necessary. If you are not prepared to work with your chosen partner from the outset, you risk limiting the efficiency gains and effectiveness improvements that are available to you.
4. Consider sector experience
Finding a partner who knows your business and more importantly, already knows how to handle conversations with your customers in an effective manner, can reduce the number of barriers in making outsourced customer service the right fit for your business. Test for yourself how they handle enquiries on chat for other companies in your sector, but most of all talk to them, and hear what they have to say about companies who have succeeded best. There is so much you can learn that you may not have considered before.
DOES HIRING CHAT AGENTS WORK?
With customers increasingly engaging online 24/7, with an expectation of access to immediate information and a growing preference to communicate textually where possible, live chat really fits a growing need for your customer base and is a great way to start more conversations.
Sure, live chat is a better fit for some industries than others, but that is expected. In reality, live chat should be something that every business considers moving forward.
The emphasis your business places on live chat should largely come from two considerations:
Is it realistic that as a communication channel for your business, live chat can help you achieve your business goals (typically increased sales or improving customer service)?
Is it likely that your customer base is going to see live chat as an appealing way to engage with your business?
In most cases the answers to the above questions are a yes.
If that is the case, then hiring outsourced live chat agents should be a serious consideration, and working with the right partner, your benefits should be twofold:
Outsourcing helps improve the customer service you deliver, raise internal staff and sales productivity, and increase overall business flexibility.
Live Chat allows you to engage with more current customers and potential customers, offering improved customer service and increasing new sales opportunities.
Given the above requirements for best practice Live Chat, it would be very wise to consider outsourcing to Yomdel’s 24/7 managed live chat service. We can take all the stress away from you and handle everything on your behalf, including software, deployment rules, training our staff and handling customer service queries or generating you leads 24/7.
If you are interested in discussing any of the above, don’t hesitate to get in touch, we would be happy to chat.