Outsourcing your customer support: An essential checklist

Samuel Howieson
Samuel Howieson
Business Owner with an Outsourcing Checklist

Outsourcing can be a godsend. Especially if you constantly find yourself sacrificing productive work hours to accomplish non-core activities.

For many business owners, the most convenient part about outsourcing is you can hire just about anyone to perform certain functions for your business. In our previous blog, we detailed some of the most common and competitively outsourced services for anyone who is looking to start their outsourcing journey. It’s a helpful and informative read to go along with this article.

Today, we focus on how to navigate through customer support outsourcing. Here’s what you can expect from this handy guide:

  1. I Outsourcing is Great! But…
  2. Your Checklist Guide on Customer Support Outsourcing
    1. Do an Internal Assessment of Your Customer Support Situation.
    2. Know More About Your Outsourced Support Partner.
    3. Define Your Customer Support Outsourcing Requirements.
  3. Closing Note

Outsourcing is Great! But…

Customer support is one of the easiest services to outsource. Still, this does not guarantee that every outsourcing experience will be a great one.

Having access to a large talent pool and potential partners at a fraction of the cost is probably one of the most luring promises of outsourcing. While options are great, having too many without a proper plan can often do more harm than good. And for something as crucial as customer support, mistakes can happen.

But it’s not all bad news. Outsourcing mistakes are easily avoidable with a proper plan and mindset. To help you avoid the common pitfalls of customer support outsourcing, we prepared a simplified checklist to serve as your roadmap in planning. It consists of important questions to ask, how to spot red flags, and ultimately find the right outsourced support partner for your business.

Your Checklist Guide on Customer Support Outsourcing

Whether you are a first-time business owner or a seasoned entrepreneur, our handy checklist can guide you in coming up with the best plan so you can set your business up for a successful outsourcing partnership.

Do an Internal Assessment of Your Customer Support Situation.

“Work starts from within,” so the saying goes.

You know your business better than anyone else. So it makes sense that the first step starts with you.

Start with a clearly defined list of your outsourcing objectives. You can do this by looking at the current situation of your customer support first and foremost.

  1. What customer concerns do you often deal with?
  2. What volume of customer calls or inquiries are you or your team currently capable of handling?
  3. Why do you want to outsource your customer support?
    • To reduce costs on capital investment?
    • To focus on your high-priority tasks?
  4. What is the ideal size of your customer support team?
    • Do you need a fully outsourced customer support team?
    • Or do you need to extend the capacity of your current in-house team?

These questions will help clarify your outsourcing objectives and prepare you to move to the next step of your outsourcing journey – finding the right outsourced support partner.

Know More About Your Outsourced Support Partner.

A word to the wise: Finding the right outsourced support partner is a business plan.

With the competitive nature of the BPO industry, be mindful that many external vendors may position themselves as “experts” without having the right experience or expertise to back it up. Rushing into deals with questionable external vendors may result in subpar customer experiences and unprofitable outsourcing outcomes.

So how do you know if it’s the right match?

The interview process is a good way to get as many relevant information about your potential partner.

You can understand more about your potential partner’s background by asking the following:

  1. Do they have a portfolio of trusted clients?
  2. What is their area of expertise?
  3. Do they share similar values with your business?
  4. How do they train their customer support agents?

Your decision to outsource with a customer support partner should ultimately lead to improved customer experiences. As such, make sure to do a thorough background check before committing to any deals.

The first two items on our checklist focus on the parties involved in an outsourcing partnership – you as the client, and your outsourced support partner. The succeeding items on our checklist will dwell more on specific outsourcing services which you can tailor to fit your business requirements.

Define Your Customer Support Outsourcing Requirements.

This is where we get to the finer details of your planning. There are plenty of considerations or criteria you need to know before getting into a contract with an outsourced support partner.

As you work out the specifics of your agreement, take the following points into consideration:

  1. What type of customer support solutions do they offer?
  2. Do they provide 24/7 customer support coverage?
  3. Do they offer scalable and flexible solutions?
  4. How do they train their customer support team?
  5. What communication technology do they provide?
  6. What quality control and security checks do they offer?

Let’s briefly go through each of the considerations outlined above.

Inbound and Outbound Customer Support

Outsourced support partners like professional contact centres offer a wide selection of inbound and outbound customer support solutions. If you have done your internal assessment, it will be easier for you to identify which services are relevant for your business needs.

As a general guide:

  • Inbound customer support takes care of incoming customer enquiries. Typical examples include live chat support, basic phone answering services, or a Helpdesk and IT Support team for technical concerns.
  • Meanwhile, an outbound customer support team can assist with your sales objectives. These services can be in the form of lead generation, cross-sell or upsell, outbound appointment scheduling, and customer satisfaction surveys.

Finally, find out if your partner offers “multichannel support” like phone support or online support like live chat. This way, you can provide your customers with more options on how they choose to engage with your business and allow you to respond to their concerns more promptly.

24/7 Customer Support Coverage

Aside from choosing an inbound or outbound service, another useful feature to ask about is your partner’s capacity to provide 24/7 customer support coverage. This is helpful especially if your business deals with customer concerns in a round-the-clock manner.

A 24/7 service reliability allows you to provide support for your customers even outside of your typical business hours. Confirm if your partner can provide service that includes coverage for after-hours, holidays, emergencies, special events, short-term campaigns, and more.

Scalability and Flexibility of Support Operations

Going through the entire process of hiring, training, and maintaining an in-house support staff is costly and time-consuming. That's where outsourcing your customer support comes in.

Being able to scale allows your business to expand without worrying about the limitations of your staffing resources. It also prepares your business for unexpected scenarios which may require additional support or flexible pricing options to meet sudden customer demands.

Customer Support Training

The onboarding process is a major step in outsourcing. It involves integrating with your outsourced team and training them to understand how your business works. Your ideal outsourced team should have good product knowledge, good communication skills, and highly experienced in resolving concerns.

To ensure that your business is being represented professionally, discuss your preferences with your outsourced support partner. For instance, if your business requires a level of familiarity with local industry or cultural knowledge, then you may suggest working with a team of Australian-based live support specialists.

Communication Technology

Another convenience of working with outsourced support partners is they are usually armed with the latest communication software and infrastructure to handle high volumes of customer requests and information.

Many professional contact centres invest in technology such as CRM integration and call tracking software to manage your customers’ concerns. These tools provide customer analytics and can help you create more personalised campaigns or interactions with your customers. As a result, you gain a competitive advantage by having a more loyal customer base.

Quality Control and Security Measures

Last but not least, on our checklist are the quality control and security checks that your outsourced support partner can provide.

You can ask your outsourced support partner about KPIs they use to measure the quality of customer support, as well as security compliances that safeguard your business data as well as your customers’ data. Some of the most popular metrics are Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and the Net Promoter Score (NPS).

Closing Note

To sum it up, our checklist covered an exhaustive list of things you can prepare for when outsourcing your customer support functions.

As discussed, it’s best to start by evaluating your outsourcing objectives. After, you can move forward with shortlisting your potential partners. Once you have narrowed your choices, consult with your chosen partner on how you can achieve tailored services that meet your specific outsourcing requirements.

With this checklist in hand, you can now make smart and confident choices to continue with your outsourcing journey.

Outsource Your Customer Support with the Right Partner

Alltel can provide contact centre and outsourced support solutions tailored to your business needs. We deliver a range of inbound and outbound solutions to help your business connect, engage, and operate more efficiently. To learn more about how our outsourced services can benefit your business, visit our page: https://www.alltel.com.au/contact-centre-outsourced-support/

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