Think again: Ovum says brands should reconsider outsourcing social media

23rd Jun 2014

Is your business struggling to deal with customer services through social media channels? Are you finding you don’t have the resources to cope? Maybe you once considered the possibility of outsourcing the operation, but were put off by horror stories that stretch as far back as 2010, when Eurostar committed what was considered one of the first high-profile Twitter fails, thanks to an outsourced account.

On that occasion, the account in question was left badly exposed, and since then there's been little interest from businesses about going down the outsourcing route. But things have moved on since then, and now one of Ovum's principal analysts, Peter Ryan has suggested it might be time to reconsider the outsourcing option.

In a blog post last week, Ryan cited Ovum's most recent ‘CRM Outsourcing Business Trends Survey’ as the principal reason for reconsidering outsourcing, with results finding that 60% of enterprises were now deploying social media as a contact channel, up 20% on 2013’s figure.

While the same study also found a “significant portion of enterprises that are resistant to offshore deployments of any CRM channel”, Ryan highlights the issues many customer service departments are having in switching their focus to social, and that a large percentage of these could consider a change of deployment method if it offered a financially viable alternative:

“Outsourcers need to start considering what delivery options exist for social media clients in order to maximise both the availability of talent and cost-effectiveness,” Ryan states. “This goes beyond simply housing agents in onshore contact centres, which up until today has been the most pervasive manner in which this channel has been managed. Perhaps the two most obvious alternatives are those that are both geographically closest and furthest from demand markets.”

Although the idea of reducing expenditure through the channel may be a favourable one, Ryan also suggests an air of caution for anyone considering offloading social customer services to overseas agents, suggesting that “in many cases the networks that they are familiar with are country-specific”. He provides India, China and Brazil as good examples of countries where training costs could easily end up outstripping the seemingly cheaper labour costs, because of the different ways social networks are used in these regions in comparison to the UK or the US.

Instead, he believes home-based agents may become more prominent as an alternative. Having already raised awareness of the need for contact centres to start considering home workers as a viable substitute for office-based employees, Ryan now believes the same benefits could befit social media:  

“Not only is this business model satisfying to enterprise contact centre managers concerned with domestic delivery, it is also a more cost-effective option than keeping this work inside a bricks and mortar facility – providing approximately 5–10% cost savings, based on Ovum’s report, 'The Future of Home-Based Agent Outsourcing'.

“However, the quality of talent recruitment is perhaps the most compelling reason for using this approach for social media delivery, as it allows outsourcers to source social media savvy agents from a pool not limited to one metropolitan area, picking the best from across the country in which they are servicing consumers. In an era in which customer experience is paramount, the advantages of such availability cannot be understated.

“Admittedly, there may be some resistance from enterprise decision-makers that are not familiar with the virtual agent business model, and depending on the vertical in question, compliance may mean jurisdiction limitations on the extent to which a network of agents can be virtualized. However, as social media delivery becomes more mature, having alternatives in place can make a major difference for outsourcers looking to win new contracts and build on existing ones.”

Replies (0)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

There are currently no replies, be the first to post a reply.