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Customer service outsourcing for small businesses

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Customer service is an entrepreneur’s secret weapon. As the e-commerce market grows and customers are flooded with options, timely and empathetic customer service is a small business’s most valuable asset.

It’s the tool that gives you, the small businesses, the competitive edge over other e-commerce sites and the retail behemoths. Your customers love the simplicity and ease of your beautiful website and expect the same on-demand experience when they have a question or concern about your product.

Customers want short response times and quick resolutions to their requests, which means that someone – bot or human – should be available to provide 24/7 customer care. An unanswered question can discourage a customer just enough to abandon their cart and bounce over to Amazon or to your competitor’s site.

It’s important to note that the number of inbound channels customers use to reach e-tailers is growing daily. With the decline of voice communication and the rise of Facebook messenger, YouTube video comments, help desk requests, Instagram DMs, and comments on online forums, customer service teams are always “on call.”

If customer care is becoming your full-time job, it’s time to consider other options to increase your productivity.

The pros and cons of customer service outsourcing 

It’s important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing customer service because, at the end of the day, the way you treat your customers matters most. Plus, you really don’t want to be lumped in with the U.S. companies that are letting $62 billion slip away due to bad customer service.

Let’s take a closer look at why entrepreneurs have chosen to outsource customer service – and why they’ve steered away from it.

Pros of customer service outsourcing:

1. It saves money.

Outsourcing customer service is often a less expensive alternative to hiring full-time customer service staff and paying them overtime during busy seasons, especially for small businesses. Companies that outsource customer service can see financial relief in utilization, SG&A, and the costs of agent attrition. Additionally, an outsourcer can offer flexible and affordable staffing options, including a price structure that charges per resolution, not per hour.

2. More coverage.

Outsourcing gives you the opportunity to “out service” your competitors by having customer service reps available after-hours and on the weekends.

3. More language options.

Companies that outsource customer service can broaden their customer base by adding more language options than just English. This is a perk that you will not have to manage.

4. Less headache.

For many, the opportunity to have full coverage in multiple languages without having to manage it all is worth more than the basic cost benefits.

5. Potentially shorter response times.

More hands on deck means a significant reduction in response times, which is the main driver of customer satisfaction.

6. Better technology and resources.

In linking up with a customer service outsourcer, you’re getting access to the latest technology and a pool of resources you might not otherwise been able to invest in.

Cons of customer service outsourcing:

1. Disconnection from brand and strategy.

Traditional outsourcers may not consider your company’s overarching strategy and brand when handling requests. It’s important that an outsourcer be a strategic partner.

2. Rigid contracts.

At the end of the day, outsourcing customer service can be cost beneficial. However, most require long-term contracts and minimum requirements, which hampers flexibility and can become a financial burden (and headache) for their clients.

3. The quality of customer care.

What a virtual customer service company considers “good” customer care may not align with your company’s definition. This disadvantage can be alleviated if your outsourcer is a strategic partner who is invested in your company’s mission and commitment to good service.

Customer service best practices

Whether your business is serving a handful of coffee enthusiasts or hundreds of millions of global wireless users, the basic tenets of excellent customer service remain the same:

  1. Be available.
  2. Be empathetic.
  3. Be quick.

We interviewed customer service experts Sue Nokes and Jon Malinowski who have a collective 30+ years of experience in customer care. Nokes has successfully transformed Fortune 100 companies, motivated tens of thousands of customer service representatives, and accumulated over 20 J.D. Power customer service awards. Her lessons learned in customer service are valuable for every business owner at any stage of their business’s growth:

Malinowski, a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry pro, has helped manage over 1,000 lines of businesses. He’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly with outsourcing customer call centers with brands like Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard. See his exclusive blog post with us here:

If you’re a small business owner intrigued by outsourcing your customer service, sign up for a free 7-day trial of Simplr.

Simplr is a customer service solution that offers high-integrity, U.S.-based customer service specialists at an affordable rate. Read more of the Simplr story here.

Simplr was incubated and funded by Asurion, a global leader in customer service with over 300 million customers and a legacy of excellence in customer experiences.