Outsourcing customer support services

Headphones / 24Few companies have not been affected by the economy, and in turn are looking for the most cost efficient ways to manage different sectors of their businesses including customer support services. In turn, many organizations are outsourcing to the growing South Asia, Pakistan, Philippines and India markets for several reasons:

– Adaptability – Christmas season is now upon us, and outsourcing can offer flexibility. A company can downgrade or upgrade services as needed without the expense of hiring more seasonal staff.
– Employee reduction – Outsourcing sets a company free of paying for employee incentives, training, hiring, and providing expensive employee benefits such as health insurance, pension planning, and vacation pay.
– Technology – Outsourced customer centers have the latest and best equipment which would be a tremendous expense to a company.
– Concentration – An organization can concentrate on doing business and their business plan as opposed to retaining customers, marketing, and handling complaints.
– Cost effective – Inexpensive manpower is available as well as technology minded employees.
– Global advantages – Different time zones can save money if only needing one shift.
– Language advantages – Many employees are proficient in English as well as many other languages.

There are also distinct disadvantages, and in general the quick turnover of personnel can lead to breakdowns in performance targets. Working in call centers are extremely stressful jobs with sophisticated technology and supervisor pressure forcing employees to move from one angry customer to the next without any time to take a breather. The pressure leads to absenteeism and illness in personnel thus leading to more chances of untrained customer agents in a particular field. Some outsourcing companies have made strides to help their employees cope with the full stress of the workload and have organized motivational camps, yoga, gyms, and recreational facilities.

Another problem with outsourcing is managing the quality of services. Instead of complaining to call centers, customers will just tell their friends of their bad experiences. For example, Joe Smith purchases a computer and two weeks later has a problem. He contacts the call center, only to be met with long delays and a new agent, so what does unhappy Joe Smith do? Joe goes on forums and social media and puts out negative reviews. Customized systems need to be in place to review these sites, get in touch with the customer and notify the organization to come up with an acceptable resolution between company and customer.

Depending on the products or services, call centers have to be able to adapt to their customers’ needs and forge ahead with solutions. Surveys aren’t always the best way to determine if a call center is doing a good job. Quality isn’t necessarily assessed by how many customers and how quickly complaints and problems can be addressed. Depending on the products and services, technical support can take more time. Quality of a call center can not always be based on resolving a customer’s complaint with one call. Some custom-made products may require the first interaction to gather information and then require a specialized follow-up at another session.

Successful companies work with outsourced call centers that can address their specific problems by a trusted business relationship, open communication, and credibility.

photo credit: Taylor Burnes