The quality of service your customers receive should come first.
When it comes to your business, what's more important than your customers? They are what keeps it afloat and brings you revenue by investing in your products or services and staying loyal to your brand. However, if you have a less-than-satisfactory customer service department, you can bet your audience won't be too happy or want to stick around.
According to research by Microsoft, 96% of respondents said that customer service is important in determining if they stay loyal to a brand. Without it, your business is surely losing out on revenue, conversions and a happy, returning customer base.
Benefits of outsourcing customer service
Many smaller businesses may not be able to afford a fully manned customer service help desk. According to Harvard Business Review, restructuring and outsourcing business operations like customer service can provide a cost savings of 20% or more. With the extra funds, businesses can invest in profitable ventures like expansion.
There are additional benefits as well, both for your customers and the long-term viability of your business. By outsourcing to an expanded team of representatives, customer questions and concerns can be handled in a timely fashion. When customer requests are handled quickly and efficiently, your brand image improves.
Outsourced call centers also benefit businesses by catering to international customers. If you serve a global market, agents are available around the clock to accommodate all schedules.
Scalability is another benefit, since you can eliminate and add services as needed based on current business needs.
Here are seven tips for outsourcing your customer service department so your business reaches its goals and stays on the path to success.
1. Evaluate your business needs.
Do you know your goals for customer service? Do you know what you want it to achieve? What are your company's guidelines for handling and solving customer issues? If you don't know, it's time to lay these issues out and answer them as specifically as you can.
Editor's note: Looking to outsource your customer service to call center agents or an answering service? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.
It's important to establish your brand voice, tone guidelines and business goals for your customer service team. Without clear steps or directions to follow, it'll be more difficult for your team to sync when tending to customers. Consistency within your brand is essential, because it's what ties the whole operation together and makes every facet of your company cohesive.
2. Offer adequate training.
Evaluate the onboarding process after you hire your customer service team. Is it thorough and informative? Are your employees' questions answered adequately so that there's less room for errors, or are they left wondering how to perform certain tasks or speak to customers? Without proper training, you'll spend more money fixing customer issues than on other parts of your conversion strategy. [Need a team of agents to handle your customer service? Check out our best picks for call center and answering services.]
In the Microsoft survey, 30% of marketers said the most important aspect of customer service is "speaking with a knowledgeable and friendly agent." Invest in training your team on their skills so that business operations have a higher chance of running smoothly. This isn't to say you won't encounter mistakes and blunders from time to time, but the chances of them occurring are far slimmer. Spending time and money perfecting your customer service strategy will pay you back in increased ROI and positive customer feedback.
3. Embrace AI.
If you haven't yet implemented artificial intelligence into your customer service strategy, you're missing out on an easy way to interact with your audience and solve their problems even when a physical team isn't there to do so. Have you ever visited a website where you are immediately messaged by a chatbot asking if you need any assistance? This is AI in action, and it's already benefited tons of online businesses.
Research by Adobe found that 47% of businesses already use AI in their marketing strategies, because it's just that effective. Unless you hire a round-the-clock team, it's impossible to always handle customer care issues as soon as they come up, which is why AI is such a valuable part of any customer service strategy.
4. Ask for customer feedback.
Want to know how your business can improve its customer service efforts? Ask your customers. Even if the feedback is negative, you can use it constructively to refine your strategy so that you end up with higher conversions. Don't take it as bad news, because every business encounters negativity at some point or another. You can't please everyone, so use this feedback to your advantage so you can cater to your audience better.
Ask your audience how your customer service department could improve. What problems have they encountered when trying to get in touch with your business? How was the quality of service? You can email your subscribers a survey as detailed as you need to enhance this part of your brand.
5. Establish brand voice guidelines.
You want to create a persona for your business that will be used in all customer service interactions. All customer service represents should be trained on the style of communication your company prefers for interactions. Consistency is important to confirm that all clients leave calls, chat, or email sessions satisfied with the business.
6. Research and compare your options.
Not all outsourced call centers are similar. You should build a list of companies that have been recommended by other business owners. From there, you can review service packages and costs. Never assume the least expensive company offers the highest value. Custom service packages are typically available by most companies to accommodate unique needs.
7. Ensure compliance with customer confidentiality and privacy.
Verify the steps the service takes to ensure customer confidentiality. All data shared with the company must be secured and located on an encrypted server. You may need to restrict sensitive information when sharing customer data, such as credit card numbers and Social Security numbers.
Outsourcing parts of your business could be your best move going forward, but if you don't have a plan for how to do it, you could end up wasting time, money and resources. It's essential to take time training your team, implementing smart AI practices, asking for feedback from your audience, and laying out your business objectives beforehand for the most refined customer service practices.