Do you really care about your customers? Outsource your customer care!

Do you really care about your customers? Outsource your customer care!

Brian Poelman

Customer care is a critical aspect of the customer experience. A company might have the best product on the market, but if customers don’t receive the quality support they need when they need it, the customer experience is impacted negatively—and that can eventually result in loss of market share. However, many companies have misperceptions about outsourced customer support services, and are therefore conflicted about the best way to provide top-notch customer care.

Misperceptions about outsourcing customer care

There’s a common misunderstanding that outsourcing the customer care function equals giving up control of the relationship with the customer. Many companies believe that their products or services are so unique that the only way to appropriately provide support—and simultaneously manage perception of their brand—is to keep the support function in-house. In addition, there’s the belief that outsourcing equals offshoring—a practice that has become increasingly unpopular over the years due to the risk of lower quality and relative high costs.  Cost consideration include actual financial expenses for travel and overseas management, but more importantly, they also comprise the negative consequences of an overseas workforce’s sub-par language skills and cultural fluency.

The challenges of establishing an in-house support function

It’s absolutely true that a business is the authority on its own products, services, and brand. It’s also true that for the majority of companies, establishing a capable, streamlined, and effective in-house customer care function is both challenging and costly. It involves establishing the technological infrastructure to handle a high and often unpredictable, cyclical, or seasonal call/chat/text/email/social media volume; recruiting, hiring, and training managers and agents; and establishing methods to collect, analyze, and report data in order to improve performance.

Clearly, the required investment is significant; yet an in-house customer care department might not yield maximum returns for two reasons. First, it isn’t the company’s core business, so it’s less likely to have access to or budget for the latest tools and techniques than a customer care partner whose success depends on always being up to date on new developments in the field. And second, in some cases, in-house experts pride themselves on their individual knowledge. This can obstruct the development of a replicable customer care process that’s geared solely towards helping the customer. Moreover, that in-house knowledge can disappear when a subject matter expect leaves the company.

Leverage expert partners to provide the best care

In contrast, when a business leverages a customer care partner whose expertise lies in providing top quality support, it demonstrates that it values its customers and wants to ensure they’re being cared for by the best. And by best, I mean the vetted and proven methodologies, tools, training, and protocols that come from years of exposure to and experience in the industry.

What’s so important to understand is that customer care agents aren’t trained to be experts in a specific service or product; they’re trained in knowledgebase management. In other words, their expertise lies in knowing where to find the answers or solutions and confidently guiding the customer through the necessary steps with patience, reassurance, and courtesy. Since most customer interactions aren’t unique, a comprehensive knowledgebase can address all issues and concerns, and ensure consistency in providing support. When new issues arise, they can be added to the knowledgebase, along with the appropriate solution—and that means all agents can access the information when needed.

In addition, a quality customer care partner will ensure that its agents possess cultural fluency. One part of this involves being educated about the client company’s brand and knowing how to best represent it. The other part pertains to establishing rapport with customers. This can be achieved by making sure that agents are as local as possible to the caller. For example, with a virtual contact center providing customer care for a company that’s headquartered in Sacramento, a call from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania can be routed to an agent who’s also located in Pennsylvania.

In conclusion, outsourcing the customer care function is critical to providing top quality support and, by extension, building brand loyalty.