Customer service outsourcing is a proven strategy for providing high-quality customer support at a lower cost. Customers expect support across multiple channels such as voice, chat, email, and social – and they want everything done well.
More channels means more complexity and investment in technology, processes, and customer service agent training. Most companies find it difficult to manage the complexities and cost of customer support in-house. They use outsourcing to minimize investments, gain access to specialized talent and expertise in customer service. It helps them maximize the value delivered to customers while optimize investments.
While outsourcing support can deliver real value, doing it successfully requires detailed planning and careful execution. At GlowTouch, we’ve helped clients worldwide navigate this process countless times in the last20 years. Along the way, we’ve learned a great deal about how to outsource customer care the right way.
We’ve developed this checklist that captures our learnings and will help you avoid the pitfalls of outsourcing. Think of it as a best practices checklist to help you plan and execute a successful customer support outsourcing initiative.
Your Checklist for Customer Service Outsourcing Strategy and Vision
The best way to start the process is to set a strong customer service outsourcing strategy and vision from the beginning. This will help you get the most from your outsourced customer care team.
To help you nail down your strategy, here’s a checklist of key questions to answer and steps to take before you outsource customer support:
- Why are you outsourcing customer service?
- Do you need to add capacity to your service team?
- Do you want to control cost of customer support?
- Are you improving quality of customer service?
- Are you looking to expand time zone or hours of coverage?
- What do your customers need?
- When – days and time of day – do your customers need support?
- What kinds of support will they need at various stages of the customer lifecycle?
- What are their expectations and tolerances for waiting when they contact customer service?
- What do you want to outsource?
- Are you outsourcing frontline customer service?
- Are you going to staff internally during business day shifts and only outsource after hours or overflow?
- Will you have multiple outsourced customer support partners who need to be integrated?
- What are your customer care requirements?
- What technology requirements are necessary for your outsourced partner to support your customers?
- Which support channels do you want to outsource?
- Do you need to take into account cross-selling and upselling?
- What will be hours of operation for your customer support team?
- What will be the anticipated volume of customer outreach?
- Will there be any seasonal volume fluctuations in volume?
- Which languages will you need support?
- What are the baseline numbers for your support metrics? (You may want to check this list of customer support metrics for reference.)
- What is your cost per contact for each customer service channel?
- What is your current customer satisfaction (CSAT) score?
- How much revenue, if any, you generate per contact through customer support?
- What is the trendline for important metrics like cost and CSAT?
- How are you going to measure results after outsourcing service and what constitutes success?
- How will you measure success through different phases of outsourcing (for example, transition, ramp up, and steady state)?
- How will you measure return on investment (ROI) from your customer service team?
- How will you track cost savings and efficiency improvements due to outsourcing?
- Will you use revenue from cross selling and upselling to measure ROI?
- Do you have an established governance framework or would you want the customer service outsourcing partner to provide one?
- Do you need to work with your procurement team to select your customer service vendor or will you drive the process directly?
- How will you find and select the customer service outsourcing partner?
- Who will research and create the shortlist of partners?
- What criteria will be used to identify and shortlist partners?
- How will you evaluate shortlisted partners?
Your Quick Checklist for Creating a Statement of Work (SOW)
Selecting the right customer service outsourcing provider is important. At the same time, it’s also critical to have the right operating model for your outsourced team.
When outsourcing customer service, you need to have a detailed Statement of Work (SOW) that clearly defines the scope of work, service level agreements (SLAs), processes and systems to be used, roles and responsibilities, and reporting mechanisms.
Your SOW should cover:
- Definitions: It’s amazing how many ways there are to describe the parts of a customer service operation. For example, how is response time defined? Don’t allow any ambiguity in the definitions.
- Metrics and Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
- Which metrics will be measured, by whom will they be measured, how will they be measured, and at what intervals will you measure them?
- What are agreed acceptable levels for each metric?
- What is the incentive / penalty for meeting / failing the SLAs?
- How will your metrics and SLAs be revised in future?
- Roles and responsibilities to be fulfilled by your outsourced partner and your team
- Processes and systems to be used by you and your customer care outsourcing partner
- Dispute management and root cause analysis processes for customer service
- Skills and qualifications for staff
- Training requirements
- Staffing requirements
- Forecasting and scheduling process and responsibilities
- Escalation procedures
- Knowledge base responsibilities
- Intellectual property requirements
- Privacy or regulatory requirements, if any
- Mitigating co-employment issues
- Technology requirements – e.g., technology platforms, access to systems and applications, licenses for software, etc.
- Schedule for reports and meetings
- Schedules for regular reporting and business reviews
- Customer satisfaction reporting
- Quality management and reporting
Find the Right Customer Service Outsourcing Partner
Once you have documented your needs, goals, operational framework and partner selection process using this checklist, it’s time to start looking for the right outsourced customer care partner.
With this checklist in hand, you will start the process of customer service outsourcing on the right note and give yourself the best chance of meeting the expectations of your outsourcing initiative. For more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org