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Don't make these 5 service outsourcing mistakes

1st Dec 2021
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Outsourcing your customer support is not a decision to be taken lightly. There are hundreds, if not thousands of options to consider, and you’ll want to ensure you’re putting your customers into the right hands. Preparation is key—ensure you’re selecting an outsourcer at the right time and focusing on the right things. We rounded up 5 common mistakes that companies make when outsourcing technical support and customer support. 

Mistake #1: Outsourcing too soon

Before you jump into hiring a business process outsourcer (BPO), ensure you’re really ready. This is a common mistake companies make: looking for an outsourcer before they have the volume of customer inquiries that makes hiring a provider worthwhile. 

While some good outsourcers will take on low-volume accounts, many require a minimum of two to five agents. So if you barely have enough volume for one agent, or your customer support processes are still undeveloped, it’s a good idea to wait—because the best outsourcers will be less likely to work with you.

Plus, if your volume is low, then it’s likely your product is still immature. It’s generally better to hire someone in-house, or make customer service someone’s part-time job. That helps you stay close to your customers and pay attention to their feedback. Otherwise, you're putting someone else in the driver’s seat of vital customer conversations before your car is even ready to drive. 

Mistake #2: Outsourcing too late

On the other hand, if you wait too long to outsource customer support, you’ll face some extra challenges transitioning to a BPO. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible, it’s just more difficult. 

Say you grow your team in-house, building it to 30, 40, or 50 people. At that size, it could be a messy process to transition everything over to a customer service outsourcing company. It can be done, and we’ve done it, but it’s far more complicated. 

You’ll be tasked with figuring out what to do with your in-house team members. Can you keep them all and move them into different roles? How are you going to message this? How are you going to make sure there is no difference in customer service? When do you do this transition? 

A great sweet spot is when you have five to 15 agents in house, and you know you need to scale. At that point, you have a strong product-market fit. You have a customer support strategy, and a set of processes in place. At this point, you may also be thinking about expanding the hours you offer customer service—which makes it a great time to be looking at BPOs. 

That’s the moment when you should really think about your long-term strategy and whether outsourcing will be right for your business. If you want to grow in house for the long term, then double down on that strategy. But if you think outsourced customer service is in your future, start thinking about making that transition. 

Mistake #3: Focusing on cost instead of quality

Too many companies assume that outsourcing is all about cutting costs. Outsourcing is about so much more than saving money— it’s about finding a partner to help you scale. Many clients come to Peak Support because they simply can’t hire enough people for their customer support team. Our primary value is not cost savings, but our ability to rapidly recruit, onboard, and manage agents. 

Keep in mind, the customer service outsourcing firm you hire is also representing your brand —they’re your voice and your connection to your customers. Is this where you want to scrimp and save?

You may indeed save money by outsourcing, if you are a U.S. or EU-based company and you outsource overseas. But that shouldn’t be your only consideration. The cost of outsourcers can vary widely, but if you go with the cheapest option, you’ll get what you pay for—poor service, little leadership, subpar management, and increase the likelihood of outsourcing horror stories. 

Mistake #4: Failing to onboard the BPO properly

Signing a contract with an outsourcer is just the start. Lay the groundwork properly during the first few months of engagement to ensure you have the right partnership that will last—and that your customers get the best service possible. High quality service to customers starts with getting your outsourced team onboarded quickly and getting them trained on your processes, product and voice. 

Too many companies rush through the onboarding process. It’s important to create a comprehensive training program ahead of time and to set clear and measurable targets early in the engagement. Your agents are your company’s voice, so take your time, plan ahead and don’t rush through the onboarding process. Check out our article on Zendesk for more on the best way to onboard a BPO. 

Mistake #5: Not integrating the outsourced and in-house teams

There's no reason your outsourced customer support agents have to be any more remote than your marketing director who works a few hours away. Your outsourced agents can—and should be—an integrated part of your team. They should be on your Slack. Their team lead should be in your weekly meetings. They should know if a new product is coming out. They should be treated—and onboarded—just as any other in-house team member. Agents reflect your brand to the world—so make them feel like they’re part of your company.

This level of integration has all become possible because of advances in cloud technology. Years ago, an outsourcer would have used its own proprietary technology, which wouldn’t necessarily talk to any of its clients’ in-house systems. So outsourced teams were completely siloed from in-house operations. 

Now, that’s changed for the better. You can keep control of your data and bring your outsourcer into your existing systems. That’s better for you, better for the outsourcer, and ultimately better for your customers. 

With preparation and education, your company will boost the odds of having a solid outsourcing partner that will set you up to not only meet demands of customers—but to exceed them. And a good BPO will be there every step of the way as you grow, as a loyal extension of your team. 

 

 

 

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