Outsourcing the customer support department can be tricky and risky. After all, it is the company’s strongest point of contact. Each customer support transaction leaves a deep and lasting impression on customers, affecting customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Many companies have been lured to outsource their customer support services by the promise of cost advantages through the low labor costs in offshore locations. However, going into this outsourcing venture without a clear plan of action and simply entrusting everything to the outsourcing provider can spell disaster. Before outsourcing the customer support department to an offshore location, it is crucial to establish the level of service quality and customer experience and determine if your outsourcing service provider is capable of maintaining them. More importantly, it is important to consider the following guidelines:
Ensure English Proficient Representatives
This is the most important requirement. Customer support services require representatives that can understand and communicate well with customers. Before selecting an offshore outsourcing service provider, it is crucial to examine the vendor’s capability to supply a stable pool of representatives that are English-proficient.
Establish the Customer Support Experience
There are many call centers and contact centers in popular offshore locations like the Philippines highly experienced in providing customer support services to many kinds of companies which you can use to your advantage. First and foremost, communicate your business goals and the customer support experience your company currently provides. This will become the basis for performance measures and indicators.
Related Article: Outsourcing Services: 3 Points to Improve Quality
Regularly Check Performance & Service Quality
One way to check the performance and quality is through the reports regularly received from the outsourcing service provider, and also through the work of your management team. Regularly reviewing and assessing random calls is also a good way of maintaining service quality. This is an important task to perform regularly in order to immediately notice any trend of poorly-handled questions that might occur and provide the best possible resolution.
Related Article: Serving Customers from Offshore
Ensure Continued Training
While your outsourcing service provider is responsible for the monitoring of daily performance and quality of customer service representatives, it is the client’s responsibility to ensure that the outsourced customer service team is kept updated and familiar with all the aspects of the company’s products or services they are providing customer support for.
For a company considering to outsource business functions, there are actually several business outsourcing model to consider. In his article “Captive or Third Party BPO or Hybrid – Which is right for your business?” Mark Atterby of The Sauce outlined the characteristics of each business outsourcing model.
The Captive Outsourcing Model
A “captive” is a wholly-owned subsidiary established by an organization or enterprise “to perform services for all corporate affiliates and divisions.” A captive may be established locally or in low cost offshore locations like the Philippines and other Asian countries.
The article said of the captive model’s benefits: “Captive outsourcing offers greater flexibility in terms of controlling its workforce, according to Hans Kriniger from Intellias. Multi-national enterprises may use a number of captives to offer follow a sun type of operations and services. When the captive in one time zone closes down the next one is firing up for the day.”
Related Article: The Basics of Virtual Captives
The Third-Party Outsourcing Model
This model is highly popular and is commonly associated with offshore outsourcing. This is when a company outsources certain business processes to a third party vendor or an outsourcing service provider, usually in offshore locations.
The benefits of this model include: enhanced visibility of costs that are usually hidden in the captive outsourcing model, being able to increase global reach and utilize global best practices from vendors or outsourcing service providers.
Related Article: Extending the Business Value of Outsourcing
The Hybrid or Virtual Captive Outsourcing Model
In his article, “The Evolution of Captive and Outsourced delivery models for business processes: what is the right option for your company?” Graham Russell said: “For those companies not quite sure about outsourcing, hybrid or “virtual captive” models have been developed by outsourcing providers, allowing for a middle ground which selects benefits from both models.”
The hybrid or virtual captive outsourcing model offers the benefits of both the captive and the third party outsourcing models. In this model, the enterprise can utilize the facilities and expertise of the outsourcing service provider while retaining control over the offshore outsourcing operation.
With outsourcing becoming a mainstream business strategy, most companies usually go for the third party outsourcing model. However, for those companies that started out with the captive model and later moved on to either the third party outsourcing model or the hybrid outsourcing model have found the transition less complex.