Should I Keep Customer Operations In-house Or Explore Outsourcing?
Outsourcing your customer operations to a specialist supplier is not a new or unusual business strategy. Customer service and contact centre specialists (Business Process Outsourcers, or just BPO) have offered their services to clients for several decades now.
However, about three-quarters of contact centres are managed in-house. Is it time for all these in-house operations to think again about outsourcing? Managing customer service is no longer limited to answering calls in a contact centre. Customer expectations have dramatically increased in recent years to the point where the customer actively expects to be able to communicate with a brand on a variety of different channels 24/7.
The customer journey used to be linear and straightforward, step-by-step. A customer learned about your product, bought it, then called if they needed help. Modern customers are constantly bombarded with information from the media, blogs, reviews, and social media posts. They are also actively posting their own photos, opinions, and reviews and regularly interacting with the brands they love. The modern customer journey is far more cyclical – customers can be engaging in many different ways on multiple channels at any time.
With this complexity in mind, let’s consider some of the advantages of outsourcing – and it’s not only about the cost. What are the real opportunities?
- Cut cost: working with a CX specialist to review your customer journey, automate sections, and introduce chatbots can all create opportunities for savings. You can also introduce efficiency through improved processes.
- Cost simplicity and transparency: your internal CX cost is almost certainly vague or opaque – who is paying for HR and training? Outsourcing allows complete transparency on costs.
- Increase quality: by creating a focus on customer lifetime value and creating metrics that trigger great customer interactions you can boost quality.
- Access resource: you need more than just agents. Who is managing the IT, HR, trainers, and data analysts in your internal contact centre? A specialist partner will have all these resources covered.
- Access innovation: the world is constantly changing. Are you already planning your CX strategy for next year or just trying to keep up with last year? Take advice from your CX specialist. Make them a partner.
- Improve CSAT: switch attention from just ‘keeping the lights on’ to really adding value with each interaction, therefore dramatically increasing customer satisfaction and lifetime value.
Your CX partner could be your eyes and ears. What are your customers saying? How are they changing? What will they need next year? These insights are extremely valuable.
Some executives still argue that they can manage CX in-house, but think about it this way; thirty years ago you may have serviced your own car during the weekend, it was simple for an amateur mechanic to change the oil, filters, spark plugs, and brakes, but modern cars feature computer-controlled engines that are often able to communicate directly with the manufacturer to diagnose and resolve problems without the driver ever being aware. Would you still want to open the hood of your car and tinker around with a screwdriver today?
Executives considering outsourcing of their customer service function also need to consider two other factors beyond the day-to-day metrics. Resilience and the future. Building resilience is top of the boardroom agenda now, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and finding a partner that can help you to build a more distributed CX team should be a priority.
Interactions are increasing as customers build relationships with brands, rather than just getting in touch to complain. More automation creates opportunity, but also complexity – who is coding your bots? More intelligence and a need for insight means that data analysis is going to play a big role in the future of CX.
Optimisation and service quality are also easier to focus on with an external supplier because they have metrics and KPIs they need to measure. Contact centres need to continuously try to improve their performance and reduce cost because the competition never sleeps. If they don’t change, they will become uncompetitive, which is a complete contrast to internal processes, that are rarely benchmarked.
It is clear that managing a successful customer service or BPO operation has become more complex in recent years. Customer expectations have dramatically changed since smartphones allowed them to remain constantly connected. Chat and social media apps have created customers that always have access to information and they now expect a similar level of access to the brands they purchase from. You need to embrace almost constant transformation just to stay afloat.
The answer is rests in taking a true partnership approach. A CX specialist not only offers the expertise and vision to manage a modern customer service process, but also the ability to target clear efficiency objectives and to build a path to the future.
To learn more about outsourcing your brand’s B2B customer operations, please click here.