Keeping up with the financial and operational requirements of a top-flight customer service department isn't easy.
Even large, enterprise-level operation struggle to maintain a professional customer service team. So for many small businesses, the answer to their customer service requirements is simple: Outsourcing.
Over the past decade, outsourced customer service has become commonplace in American businesses. Rather than attempting to cover customer service functions in-house, companies partner with customer service providers, using CRM and other communication technologies to facilitate a seamless working relationship.
Yet more than a few companies have discovered that outsourcing isn't always the turnkey solution it's cracked up to be. It's possible to improve your customer service performance with outsourcing, but first you'll need to lay the groundwork for a winning partnership with your provider. Here's our advice about the right way to outsource customer service.
- Goal clarification. A successful outsourcing arrangement begins by clarifying your goals for outsourcing before you start shopping for a provider. Are you trying to reduce costs? Improve call center performance? Or maybe do both at the same time? Without answers to these and other important questions, your search for a provider will be unfocused and unsuccessful.
- Partner selection. There is a multitude of criteria that goes into the partner selection process. Industry experience, business model compatibility, reputation and other factors all play a major role in determining which provider is the best fit for an outsourcing partner.
- SLA creation. Plan on investing time and consideration into the creation of your Service Level Agreement (SLA). This document dictates the parameters of your outsourcing partnership and impacts your call center performance for months or even years to come.
- Constant evaluation. Whether you're dealing with an offshore or domestic partner, outsourced customer service needs to be monitored and evaluated on a constant basis. Establish an adequate reporting system with your partner and get in the routine of evaluating metrics on a weekly or even daily basis.
- Adaptation. If you aren't getting the results you need from your outsourcing relationship, work with your partner to make adjustments to the system. Small problems have a way of becoming big problems, so become accustomed to nipping issues in the bud.