Tips for outsourcing your customer service function
Siobhain Goodall, Head of Business Development – Outsourcing at mplcontact, shares her top tips for outsourcing your customer service function.
When you start a business, you’ve no idea how many people will call you, how they will get in touch or what they will want to discuss. Will they be asking how to use your products? Will they be complaining about a technical problem or will they be asking when to expect deliveries?
Outsourcing your customer service function, in the early days especially, can take away much of this uncertainty and undoubtedly save money in the long run: over-staff and over-train your customer service staff from day one and you can end up wasting money that few start-ups have; under-resource and you can find customers disappearing, sales falling and your fledgling business in trouble.
Here, we take a real-life example of a start-up business in the highly competitive telecoms sector and draw out the tips for contact centre outsourcing that can help a new business, no matter their industry.
Ovivo Mobile launched a new phone service which gives people free data and voice usage in exchange for targeted non-intrusive adverts to their devices. They needed an affordable way of ensuring all their calls were answered, no matter the time of day, by staff who both understood the sector and could explain a fairly complex product to their customers. They chose to completely outsource their customer service function from day one, basing that decision on these tips:
- Look for an outsourced service provider who can offer flexible service and contract terms so, as your business expands, you can change your requirements without penalty.
- Start with a pay-per-usage model as you track demand for your business’s product and services. Using an outsourcer who can offer a scalable, on-demand agent resource means you will not be paying for idle, wasted resource and your customers will not be frustrated having to wait for an answer.
- Look for an outsourcer that offers bureau agents and not just dedicated teams. A bureau service, especially at the beginning of your project, allows for higher volumes of simple enquiries to be managed effectively and more cost effectively. As you pass more complex tasks to your outsourcer, you will have a base of experienced agents ready to form your dedicated team.
- Find an outsource partner who has experience of your sector as well as a variety of other industry and service types. The broader the experience of the agents, the more flexible they will be in handling a range of tasks, from simple transactional to customer service enquiries, up-sells, complaints and technical support. As your business grows, draw on this experience to outsource more types of calls and to take advice on how to manage your in-house call handling capabilities.
- Manage your own expectations by starting with the simple stuff; an outsourcer can help you get off the ground quickly if they start with the high volume, run-of-the-mill enquiries, passing more complex queries back to your in-house experts. As you begin to understand the make-up of your customers’ enquiries, gradually expand the scope of your outsourcer’s remit to so they can take even more of the load.
Outsourcing is an approach that more and more start-ups are adopting. For many it seems unusual, even uncomfortable, at first but, when they accept that they quite happily outsource their marketing, IT and finance requirements it soon becomes less of a leap of faith to outsource their contact centre. Best of all, an outsourced contact centre is already an expert and scalable service which runs itself, so the new business can focus on all the other challenges that arise with every start-up business.