Employ (Don’t Outsource) the Customer Service Experience
Originally published by The Fast Mode
Many believe outsourcing customer service is the obvious choice in today’s climate of cost-cutting and running a lean business. It’s considered less expensive, more scalable and easier to manage with an external call center director overseeing operations. Yet, an outsourced customer experience can make the difference between a loyal customer and one who unleashes the power of social media to decimate a brand.
In fact, according to Microsoft, 90% of Americans choose whether they will continue to buy from a company based on their customer service experience, and 58% will switch brands if the experience is poor. With so much at stake, organizations should think twice before opting to outsource their customer experience.
Like it or not, call center agents are brand ambassadors
Outsourcing customer service means an organization hires a third-party call center, often located outside the United States, that employs people trained to handle customer service calls specific to a business and its products and services. Agents may handle customer service calls for multiple businesses or they may be dedicated solely to one organization’s customer service calls. The latter, of course, costs more. Either way, when the agent answers a call, that person represents the brand, and their interaction influences how the customer feels about the brand.
Picture it. The agent, employed by a third-party and not your organization, holds the key to turning a one-time customer into a repeat customer, a lifetime buyer, or even a brand ambassador who shares the positive experience with their social media followers. This interaction can solidify brand loyalty or drive the customer to a competitor. If the experience is positive, then according to a Zippia 2022 survey, 77% will recommend your brand to a friend. That one customer service interaction can serve as a source for incremental growth or measurable revenue loss.
Stop the customer churn and revenue burn
In general, U.S. businesses should pay closer attention to why they are losing revenue. According to the CallMiner Churn Index for 2020, American companies lose more than $136 billion per year due to avoidable customer loss. Offering a positive customer experience goes a long way toward slowing customer churn and revenue burn.
Providing consistent, reliable customer service is also a major factor in customer retention. It’s so important that 68% of consumers will actually pay more for products and services from a company with good customer service. Conversely, 50% of consumers will switch to a competitor after just one bad customer experience.
Outsourcing the customer experience to a third-party call center often results in customer dissatisfaction stemming from several factors. These include lack of knowledge about the business or product, lack of ability to solve the problem, language barriers, and wait times - all major factors in providing a positive customer experience. While outsourcing customer service to third-party call centers can be less expensive than employing personnel, can companies today really afford to leave their customer service to chance?
Benefits of employing the customer experience
Clearly, the customer service experience dictates consumer buying decisions and behaviors. By employing customer service professionals, customers are more likely to have a positive interaction with the brand, and organizations, in turn, gain several competitive advantages that result in big customer and market share gains.
- Communication and collaboration - Employing customer service professionals means your customers are interfacing with brand ambassadors who know the organization, its products and services, its leadership team, and their expectations for how customers should be treated. Customer service teams hold regular meetings to discuss what’s working and what’s not, how to improve processes and interactions, and ways to better communicate with customers and internal stakeholders. This consistent internal communication and collaboration results in a better customer experience and a promise to customers that the organization is dedicated to continually finding ways to serve them better.
- Faster problem solving - Employing customer service representatives means these employees are thoroughly trained to understand the product(s) or service(s), and the escalation process. This enables them to understand the customer’s concern or issue and navigate internal channels to address or solve a customer concern faster than a third-party call center. Delivering faster answers and often more amenable solutions results in better customer service and brand loyalty.
- Better customer data - Tracking customer complaints and service needs provide invaluable data that may uncover potential issues with products and/or services or ways a brand can improve areas of its business to better address the needs and expectations of its customers. Employed customer service professionals are more likely motivated to fine-tune how this information is tracked, how it’s monitored, how findings are shared internally, and with whom. All these steps can add up to major improvements in how customers’ needs are addressed, and even how products and services are developed and delivered to customers.
As companies consider cost-cutting and efficiency measures going into 2023, outsourcing customer service should not be among the considerations. Expectations for higher-quality customer service are only increasing. According to the CX Revolution in Retail report, more than half of those surveyed post-pandemic said their customer service expectations are higher than the year before. With this awareness, employing, not outsourcing, the customer service experience is the right choice for organizations and their customers.