What Is Outsourced Customer Support?

Outsourced customer support is the practice of transferring all client-facing communications to a third-party service provider.

The outside agency is equipped with trained agents who are typically responsible for handling your incoming phone calls, emails, social media messages, and other common forms of customer support requests.

Their job is to help your customers get quick and efficient responses to their questions and solutions to their problems.

They can serve your customers 24/7 while allowing you to focus on your vision, core business processes, and more significant sales drivers.

A whopping 90% of customers spend more with companies that offer personalized customer service.

Businesses are increasingly invested in this service to provide clients with more value and gain their trust. Partnering with outsourced customer support companies can bring your business more returning clients and higher profits.

customer service agents talking on the phone in an outsourced customer support company
 90% of customers spend more with companies that offer personalized customer service

What Is the Difference Between Customer Service and Call Centers?

Customer service and a call center differ in how they handle client communication.

A call center is a department that uses the telephone as a channel to connect with customers.

Trained representatives receive or make calls to answer the clients’ questions, help them resolve issues related to the company’s products or services and even generate sales.

Their job is to deal with the calls those organizations receive and resolve problems on time.

On the other hand, customer service is a department that serves as an extension of the organization’s support. It provides clients with assistance before, during, and after using their products or services.

However, unlike call center representatives, customer service experts help resolve customer queries using different mediums, including telephone and email, social media, live chat, and more.

Although call centers play a meaningful role in the customer support strategy, they are typically used for sales purposes only.

Customer service is a broader term; beyond sales, it deals with increasing client loyalty and retention and improving brand reputation.

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What Do Outsourced Customer Support Companies Specialize In?

Depending on the business type and size, different customer support mediums work better for various companies.

These are the most common customer support services:

1. Phone Support

According to Zendesk, over 50% of clients across all age groups use the phone to resolve issues with a company.

Phone support is not only the oldest form of customer service but also one of the most popular choices among businesses to manage their client relationships because:

  • It is much faster than any other kind of customer service
  • It allows customers to explain complex problems easier
  • It enables better recognition of clients’ emotions
  • It works across all generations, tech-savvy or not

Assisting customers via the phone allows companies to engage in a conversation, which creates a sense of intimacy. This creates a deeper bond and contributes to establishing meaningful relationships.

Phone customer service is used across a wide range of industries, particularly in the public sector:

2. Email Support

With 49%, email is the second most popular medium customers use to resolve issues, according to Zendesk.

While it may be much easier to discuss a problem via the phone, some customers prefer to interact with brands in writing by email.

With email support, some clients not only feel more comfortable carrying out conversations but by using this medium, they can also:

  • Contact companies whenever they find it convenient, even outside working hours
  • Get in touch with the support team without the need for direct human interaction
  • Write down a problem clearly and review it before sending
  • Keep conversation history for future reference

However, while email is one of the preferred customer support channels, a new report by SuperOffice shows that 62% of organizations ignore their clients’ emails.

SuperOffice closely analyzed these companies and concluded that they did not have correctly established processes to handle support requests.

This is a bad practice that pushes clients away. The same study reveals that most companies that failed to meet their clients’ expectations lost millions of dollars.

Partnering with customer service outsourcing companies can make all the difference since they have the expertise and experience to carry out your email customer conversations properly.

These experts will ensure customer satisfaction. Your company will establish meaningful relationships with your clients by:

  • Letting them know that you have received their requests via properly constructed automated messages
  • Following up with them promptly
  • Personalizing the emails
  • Trying to solve the issue in the first reply

Besides this, customer service companies will facilitate access to your contact information, making your email address visible on your website and other digital platforms.

3. Live Chat Support

Like all other customer support mediums, live chat has unique benefits, including speed.

It gives customers who don’t prefer calls instant access to a company’s representative, allowing quick issue resolution.

This medium has the highest consumer satisfaction rate, at 92%. (Zendesk)

Besides client satisfaction, live chat is one of the best support mediums for converting leads.

Potential buyers can ask different questions and make easy purchases based on your company representative’s feedback.

Live chat is a great asset that your company can use to keep clients satisfied.

However, while this medium makes it easy for customers to reach support and for companies to provide feedback, getting more requests than they can handle can be overwhelming.

When customer service outsourcing, your organization will get access to professional help where experts can cope with more inquiries and provide rapid resolution.

That way, you can do the work more efficiently without worrying about the time you cannot allocate to client communication.

4. Social Media Support

Social media support is provided on social platforms like Facebook, like Instagram, or Twitter through:

  • Private Messaging
  • Comments
  • Group discussions

This support is effective because customers can get in touch with brands easily and quickly through the platforms, they use daily.

Data supports this fact, and according to Facebook, 69% of U.S. users claim that they feel more confident about brands if they can message them on the channel.

Also, organizations should take advantage of social media support and form groups to publicly answer all of their client’s questions.

They can potentially decrease the number of similar questions and save time.

The drawback of using social media as a client support channel is that posts are available to almost everyone. So, companies need to ensure that they deal with negative feedback with honesty and diplomacy.

Especially now, when people spend more time online due to the COVID crisis, companies need to optimize their communications and provide comprehensive customer experiences.

Outsourced customer support companies can help you take a proactive approach and provide your customers with the maximum value of your service.

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How Much Do Customer Support Services Cost?

The cost of customer support services will depend on several factors, including:

  • The type of services your company needs
  • The number of dedicated professionals engaged in the process
  • Employee training
  • Time availability
  • The complexity of customer requests
  • Number of expected contacts
  • The number of support channels needed
  • The location of the outsourcing partner

Customer service companies typically charge clients by the hour, and, on average, you can expect firms located in various regions of the world to ask for the following:

  • $10 in India
  • $14-$30 in Eastern Europe
  • $15-$40 in the USA

While essential call answering services may range between a few cents to one dollar per minute, businesses usually pay about $1300-$2,500 each month.

The cost may be higher if the company requires additional services like:

  • Call recording
  • Quality assurance
  • Collecting contacts for lead generation
  • Business consultation
  • Analytical programs
  • Reporting
  • Managerial training

Why Hire Customer Service Companies?

From cost optimization to higher revenue, these are the key benefits of customer support services:

Benefit #1: Optimized Cost

Hiring and onboarding customer support agents can be a lengthy and costly process.

According to Glassdoor, the average U.S. employer spends about $4,000 to hire a new worker.

The total price of setting up an in-house customer service team also includes the following:

  • Setting up the infrastructure
  • Employee salaries
  • Equipment

Businesses can save a significant amount of money by turning to customer support outsourcing services.

Outsourced customer support companies not only have fully trained experts, but they also have the equipment needed to handle client communication.

In addition, the cost of hiring a third-party company is significantly lower than paying a fixed salary to a team of in-house agents.

This practice allows you to save resources and optimize costs.

Benefit #2: Reduced Workload and Improved Efficiency

The beauty of outsourced customer support services is that you can keep your focus on running your business and doing profitable activities rather than responding to calls or emails.

Customer support agents can help you reduce workload for you and your employees, allowing you to focus on internal operations and more significant sales drivers without sacrificing customer satisfaction.

This partnership will contribute to higher work efficiency and productivity and ultimately increase sales.

Benefit #3: Access to Best-in-Class Technology and Processes

Another benefit of customer service outsourcing is that professional client support companies come equipped with cutting-edge technologies.

We are talking about expensive tools like Hootsuite for social media management or Vanilla, a software that allows you to set up your community forum, whose prices reach $689/month.

These tools are needed to improve your business operations and can easily handle your customer communications

In addition, these companies also have dynamic processes, and they know how to keep up with new customer demands and solve issues in a timely manner.

Their agents have years of experience so they can be more efficient at their job than you.

Benefit #4: Improved Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty

Apart from the professionalism that your clients will get thanks to your customer support services, there are a few more facts that contribute to satisfaction and loyalty.

On the one hand, there is the multilingual service.

Outsourced customer support companies have a team of bilingual experts proficient in the most commonly spoken languages, like Spanish and Chinese.

If your customer base speaks another language, these professional companies can help you overcome the communication barriers, allowing your clients to feel more confident about your company.

On the other hand, outsourced customer support services can provide better coverage.

While you may be able to serve your clients at a particular time, these agencies typically work 24/7, as their team members come from different time zones.

With this increased accessibility, your customers can reach you any time, making a positive impression on your company.

Benefit #5: Increased Revenue

According to HubSpot, 68% of consumers will pay more for products and services from a business that offers excellent customer support.

Great customer service allows businesses to create meaningful relationships with their clients built on trust and appreciation.

Many clients focus on how brands treat them and often find this to be more important than product quality and pricing. In other words, excellent customer support can make all the difference.

Customer service can bring your company more returning clients and higher profits when done right.

Customer service companies can help you meet the growing expectations of your clients and provide them with more efficient problem resolutions.

How to Select the Best Customer Support Services for Your Business Needs

Selecting the best customer support services for your business can be tricky.

However, the following factors can help you make the right choice and pick an agency that can meet your business needs:

1. Industry Experience

While industry experience should not be a key decisive factor, it matters because the professional companies that have worked with other clients in your field will be familiar with the regulations in your sector.

Additionally, they will have unique insights into your customers and their particular concerns. This can allow them to handle your support tasks more effectively and efficiently.

2. Security

You need to understand what security processes each company has in place to keep your clients' personal information safe.

When clients ask for support, they often give away sensitive data, including phone numbers, addresses, and bank card numbers. As a serious business, you must ensure that this information stays protected.

Thereby, ask customer service outsourcing companies for their security protocols and, if necessary, restrict them from accessing or asking for certain info like credit card details.

3. Tools And Technologies

Customer support is a process that depends on various tools and technologies, and the agencies that have access to the latest hardware and software components will be better positioned to serve your customers.

Apart from this, study the prospective agencies’ I.T. infrastructure and see if they have reliable phone networks and internet lines. These are small factors that can contribute to improved client satisfaction.

4. Client Reviews and References

Reviews and references are other important factors that will help you make the smart choice.

These will show you how reliable these companies are and give you honest insights into their previous work and reputation. They will also tell you if previous clients are satisfied with their work, what results they helped them accomplish, and help you familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the company.

5. Communication

Communication plays a vital role in customer service. To see how well prospective customer service outsourcing companies can do their job, you should evaluate their communication skills from the very start.

See how available they are and if they reply to your calls and messages in a timely manner. In addition, if the potential partner operates in a different time zone, find out how they can minimize communication gaps.

How to Evaluate the Performance of Your Customer Service Outsourcing Company

Customer service is about ensuring your clients are satisfied with your products or services and how you handle all communication.

But how can you measure the performance of your outsourced customer support services team? How can you tell if they are doing a good job assisting your clients?

The answer is quality assurance.

Quality assurance (Q.A.) is a process that ensures your customer support outsourcing service partner delivers the highest standards of client support.

You can check the performance of your agency by focusing on the following Q.A. metrics:

  • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT) or how satisfied your customers are with the support they get
  • Average call answering speed or how much it takes your team to answer incoming calls
  • Resolution rate or the percentage of received requests vs. resolved requests
  • Issue resolution time or the average time the team needs to resolve an issue
  • First contact resolution ratio or the ability to solve a client’s issues during the first contact
  • Customer effort score or the effort it took clients to have their problems solved

The QA process can help you evaluate your partner's work and improve your customer service to increase client satisfaction.

10 Questions to Ask Customer Service Outsourcing Companies

Ask prospective customer service outsourcing companies the following questions:

  1. How do you hire and train your agents?
  2. Have you ever worked with businesses in the same or similar niche?
  3. What is your customer satisfaction score?
  4. How do you measure the quality of your services and your agents’ performance?
  5. What security processes do you have in place?
  6. What tools and technologies do you have access to?
  7. Will you assign a contact person?
  8. Will you send analytical reports, and how often? What will they include?
  9. What are your pricing options? How much will your services cost me?
  10. Can I see what is included in the contract?

Takeaways on Outsourced Customer Support Companies

Outsourced customer support companies can help you manage your client communication more effectively and efficiently.

The most common types of customer support services are:

  • Phone support
  • Email support
  • Live chat support
  • Social media support

Depending on their location, these professional agencies may charge you between $10 and $40 per hour.

The benefits of customer service outsourcing are:

  • Optimized cost
  • Reduced workload and improved efficiency
  • Access to best-in-class technology and processes
  • Improved customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Increased revenue

To choose the best agency partner for your business needs, consider the following factors:

  • Industry experience
  • Security
  • Tools and technologies
  • Client reviews and references
  • Communication

To evaluate the performance of your customer service company, consider quality assurance and focus on key metrics like customer satisfaction scores.

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