How to Choose an Outsourced Customer Support Provider

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So, you’re thinking about diving headfirst into the outsourced customer support pool. Well, kudos for your bravery! It’s not every day a business decides to take a swan dive into such unfamiliar waters. If done right, you’re about to score yourself some fantastic customer support—without the stress of managing it all in-house.

But hold on a second, isn’t this outsourced customer support business as complex as understanding your grandmother’s old record player? With an array of providers and a jumble of jargon, how on earth do you pick the right outsourced customer support provider? Luckily for you, we’ve got a roadmap to guide you. One key aspect of this journey involves Assessing the ROI of Outsourced Customer Service, which can provide valuable insights into the cost-effectiveness of your choices.



The Gravity of the Matter

Let’s add some perspective here. According to a report from Deloitte, about 31% of IT services have been outsourced in 2020, and that number is only increasing. The same study also reported that 57% of businesses see outsourcing as a cost-cutting tool, while 47% view it as a means to solve capacity issues. It’s no secret that outsourcing has transformed from a mere business strategy to an essential survival tool in today’s competitive landscape.


A Fork in the Road

So, where does that leave you? You have two roads to choose from – to outsource or not to outsource? It might seem overwhelming but fear not! The decision to outsource, especially something as crucial as customer support, doesn’t come lightly. It’s not just about cutting costs or solving capacity issues; it’s about improving service quality, extending reach, and focusing on core competencies.


The Dilemma of Choice

– the mountain of choice. You have a world of customer support outsourcing options at your fingertips. From dedicated customer support providers to 24/7 outsourced customer support providers, and especially when considering the The Role of Outsourcing in SaaS, eCommerce, and Shopify Ecosystems, the range from those offering SaaS customer support outsourcing to providers who specialize in Shopify apps customer support outsourcing can seem endless and a tad bit intimidating.


Hitting the Bullseye: Picking the Right Partner

To navigate through this mountainous terrain, you’ll need a guide, a roadmap of sorts. Picking the right partner is more than just a leap of faith; it’s about methodical evaluation, careful consideration, and an understanding of your business’s unique needs. Don’t worry, though. We’ve got your back.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of choosing an outsourced customer support provider that’s just right for you. So, buckle up and prepare for an enlightening journey that will transform the way you view outsourced customer support. Let’s dive right in, shall we?



Understand Your Needs

Identify your unique company traits

First things first, take a moment to gaze into the mirror of introspection. Who are you as a company? Understanding your business’s unique traits and customer service needs are pivotal before you leap into the outsourcing sea. Ask yourself:

  • Are you a small business struggling with support volume during peak hours?
  • Or are you an enterprise-level organization seeking expert technical support for a specific product line?
  • Perhaps you’re a rapidly expanding startup without the time or resources to manage a growing customer base?

Understanding these distinct needs will help shape the kind of outsourced customer support service you’ll require.


Define your service requirements

Next, pin down your specific requirements. Do you need a provider offering 24/7 customer support, or a dedicated outsourced customer support team? Or maybe you need someone specializing in SaaS customer support outsourcing?


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1. Customer Support Hours

Depending on your business and customers, you may need support available around the clock or only during specific hours.


2. Type of Support

Are you looking for phone support, email support, live chat, or a combination? Do you need technical support or just general inquiries?


3. Domain Expertise

If your business operates in a specific domain like SaaS or eCommerce, you’ll need a support provider who understands the nuances of these areas.



Set your budget

Without a clear budget, you could end up with a support service that’s fancier than a unicorn riding a shooting star, but just as impractical. So, take stock of your financial limits and prioritize your spending wisely. Remember, the cheapest option isn’t always the best, and the most expensive one may offer bells and whistles you don’t really need.


Visualize success

Lastly, think about what success would look like for you. Are you aiming for faster response times, improved customer satisfaction scores, or reduced workload for your in-house team? Set clear, measurable goals to help guide your decision-making process.

The first step in choosing an outsourced customer support provider isn’t about the providers at all; it’s about you. Like a modern-day Goldilocks, know exactly what you want and don’t settle until you find a provider that’s ‘just right’ for your business.



Researching Potential Providers

Scouting the Terrain

Okay, now that you’ve got a clear image of what you want, it’s time to get down to brass tacks. Imagine yourself as Sherlock Holmes, with your detective hat on and magnifying glass at the ready. You’re about to embark on a thrilling quest to uncover potential outsourced customer support providers.

Start by hunting down companies that specialize in the services you need. Say you run a Shopify store and need someone who knows their way around Shopify apps customer support outsourcing. Or perhaps you’re in the SaaS industry and want someone with expertise in SaaS customer support outsourcing. Well, then, your search needs to be as specific as your needs. Remember, you’re not looking for a one-size-fits-all solution, but a tailored suit that fits your business just right.


Delving into the Details

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Now, prepare to dive deep into the details of each potential provider. Unearth their strengths and weaknesses, their successes and failures. Find out what they’re offering beyond the glossy sheen of their website homepage.

  1. Website exploration: Visit each provider’s website and scrutinize their service offerings, their mission, and values. Do they align with your needs and business ethos?
  2. Review reconnaissance: It’s time to play review detective. Read reviews of outsourced customer support providers on different platforms. Pay particular attention to recurring praises or complaints.
  3. Testimonial testimonials: Next, hunt down testimonials from businesses that use outsourced customer support. These can provide insights into the real-world experiences of their clients.
  4. Case study scrutiny: Get your hands on some case studies. They’re like the behind-the-scenes footage of a provider’s operations. They can tell you how the provider handled different challenges, and what results they achieved.

Evaluating Expertise

An outsourced customer support provider could have all the bells and whistles, but if they don’t have the right expertise, they might just end up being all style and no substance. Check if they have experience working with businesses similar to yours, or if they’ve tackled similar challenges before.

If you need back-office outsourcing or customer support offshoring, for example, look for providers who have a track record in these areas.


The Culture Check

Finally, consider the provider’s corporate culture. A provider could tick all the boxes in terms of services and expertise, but if their culture doesn’t mesh with yours, the relationship could turn sour. Look for hints about their work ethics, their values, their approach towards their clients and employees. Remember, you’re not just hiring a service; you’re partnering with a team.



Comparing Providers

Stepping onto the Comparison Battlefield

At this stage, you’ve probably got a list of potential providers, each with their glossy brochure of promises. Now, you might be tempted to jump on the cheapest option, thinking it’s a brilliant ‘buy one, get one free’ sort of deal. But remember, this isn’t a speed-run at a discount electronics store on Black Friday. It’s about pinpointing the right partner who’ll blend seamlessly into your team like sugar dissolving in a fresh cup of joe.


Laying Out the Comparison Criteria

When comparing outsourced customer support providers, it’s essential to have a clear set of criteria. But what should be on your checklist? Let’s go over some elements to keep an eye out for:


1. Track Record

Firstly, delve into their past performance. Have they left a trail of satisfied customers or a series of ghosted clients with unreturned calls? Check their testimonials, online reviews, and any case studies they might have published.


2. Expertise

Expertise isn’t just about how long they’ve been in the game. It’s also about whether they’ve got experience relevant to your industry. If you run a SaaS company, for example, you’d want a provider with proven experience in SaaS customer support outsourcing.


3. Customer Service Approach

How a provider approaches customer service can tell you a lot about their ethos. Do they see customer support merely as a problem-solving function, or do they believe in creating memorable customer experiences?


4. Success Metrics

What metrics do they use to measure their performance? Are they focused on efficiency metrics like Average Handling Time, or do they also consider customer satisfaction scores, Net Promoter Score (NPS), and Customer Effort Score (CES)? The customer support metrics they track can give you insight into their values and priorities.


5. Onboarding Process

A good customer support onboarding process is like a well-rehearsed Broadway show – everything flows smoothly, everyone knows their lines, and you’re given a VIP backstage tour. Ask providers how they handle onboarding. How long does it take? What training is involved? How do they ensure alignment with your company’s values and standards?


6. Tools and Software

What customer support software and tools do they use? The tech stack of a customer support provider can affect the efficiency and effectiveness of their service. Are they using modern tools like Zendesk or Salesforce, or are they still stuck in the age of clunky spreadsheets and overflowing email inboxes?


7. Cost

Price, of course, is a factor. But remember, the cheapest option might not always be the best value. Be wary of prices that seem too good to be true – they often are.


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Making an Apples-to-Apples Comparison

When you’re comparing providers, remember to compare apples to apples. Some providers might offer a lower price, but they might also offer fewer services, less flexibility, or lower service levels.

So take a deep breath, grab your checklist, and plunge into the comparison process. You’re not just buying a service; you’re investing in your customers’ happiness. Your goal should be to find a provider that offers the right blend of price, performance, and partnership. Your customers—and your bottom line—will thank you for it.



Making a Decision

Setting Your Sights on the Right Partner

You’ve understood your needs, done your research, compared your options, and now you’re ready to make a decision. Sounds like a cakewalk? Well, think again! Making a decision can feel like standing at the edge of a Grand Canyon cliff, staring into the abyss of possibilities below.

But don’t start hyperventilating yet. The good news? You’re not alone in this.


Reaching Out to Potential Partners

Fire up those Dialogues

Just because you’ve drawn up a shortlist of potential providers doesn’t mean you can’t keep asking questions. The decision stage is a prime opportunity to engage your chosen providers in a deeper conversation.

Fire up those dialogues! Ask them questions, pick their brains, and seek clarifications. What are their customer support SLAs? How flexible are they with customer support reporting? What’s their take on customer support training? Do they have a solid foundation of customer support software and tools?

Ensure they’re not just shining on paper but also have the right attitude and approach in reality.


The Trial Run

Test the Waters

Consider this: would you buy a car without taking it for a test drive? No? Then why do the same with your customer support provider? A trial run can give you valuable insights into how the provider operates in real-world scenarios.

Some outsourced customer support providers may offer a pilot phase or trial period. Take advantage of this opportunity. Test their services, gauge their responses, and assess their commitment to your business.


The Cultural Compatibility Test

Is Your Partner in Sync with Your Business Values?

Choosing an outsourced customer support provider is more than just hiring a vendor; it’s about partnering with a team that becomes an extension of your business. So, beyond technical capabilities and customer service acumen, you should also consider cultural compatibility.

Does the provider share your business values? Can they seamlessly blend into your business ethos? If the answer is yes, you’ve likely found a partner, not just a provider.


The Decision

Making the big decision isn’t about picking the shiniest object on display. It’s about selecting a partner that aligns with your business needs, shares your work ethics, and upholds your business values.

Remember, this decision isn’t a mere stroke of the pen on a contract; it’s the commencement of a partnership that could shape the future of your customer experience. And while the journey to this point might have been complex, remember, you’re just getting started. The real journey — the one of delivering exceptional customer support — that begins now.

So, go on and make your decision. But make it with confidence, not just convenience. After all, choosing an outsourced customer support provider is a crucial decision. But with the right preparation, the right mindset, and the right partner, it doesn’t have to be a herculean task.



To Sum Up

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Embarking on the journey to outsource customer support can feel a bit like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube while riding a unicycle. But fear not, brave entrepreneur! With careful introspection, thorough research, and a clear decision-making process, you’re well on your way to finding the right partner.


Reaping the Benefits

Outsourcing customer support has plenty of benefits. According to Deloitte’s 2018 Global Outsourcing Survey, 84% of companies that outsourced services reported a positive ROI within a year. However, like any strategy, there are both advantages and pitfalls. To get a clearer picture, it’s essential to understand The Ups and Downs of Outsourced Customer Service. Not bad, huh?

Here’s a quick list of advantages:

1. Access to Expertise

One of the biggest perks of outsourcing is that you’re hiring experts who know customer support like the back of their hand. These teams live and breathe customer service every single day. That’s their bread and butter.


2. Cost Efficiency

Hiring and maintaining a full-time, in-house customer support team can be costly. According to Glassdoor, the average annual cost for a customer service representative in the US is $30,688. Outsourcing can significantly cut down these costs.


3. Scalability

Outsourcing allows your customer support to scale with your business. As you grow and your support needs increase, your provider can easily ramp up their services.


Making the Leap

So, go ahead, dive into the pool of outsourced customer support, and start delivering exceptional service to your customers without the headaches of managing it all in-house. As you make this leap, consider a few final tips:

1. Start Small

You don’t have to outsource all of your customer support functions at once. You can start with one function, evaluate the results, and gradually increase the scope of outsourcing.


2. Set Clear Expectations

Define clear metrics of success and service level agreements (SLAs). This will ensure that you and your provider are on the same page.


3. Maintain Regular Communication

Keep the lines of communication open with your provider. Regular updates and feedback will go a long way in ensuring the success of the outsourcing relationship.

Remember, in this journey of finding the right outsourced customer support provider, the road might be winding, but it doesn’t have to be a lonely one. With the right research, due diligence, and continual communication, you’re on the road to a successful outsourcing partnership. Here’s to you, and to delivering fantastic customer service without breaking a sweat!