Is Your Outsourced Customer Support Vendor Any Good?

If you’re using an outsourced customer support vendor, whether onshore or offshore, they should be a core strategic partner. But not all vendors are created equal.

I’ve managed robust support operations for 25 years, both in-house and through outsourced partners all over the world. In that time, I’ve seen the results good vendors get and found ways to identify the best from the rest. In my experience, answering these 6 questions can help you determine if a support vendor is up to par and if you’re getting a good value. 

1. How Much Money Are You Really Saving?

For the majority of firms outsourcing customer support, cost is the primary reason for doing so. But how much are you truly saving with your current partner? It’s all about Efficiency!  

Many offshore customer support firms provide support professionals at 1/3 the cost of U.S. support professionals. But in terms of productivity, if each of the offshore resources can only handle 1/4 the number of contacts as a U.S. support operator, you’re actually losing money.

Productivity for outsourced teams should be close to or equal to the productivity of in-house, U.S. teams, not 50 or 75% lower. 

In fact, solid outsourced support operations can improve efficiency and handle more contacts than many in-house teams — because they specialize in support, vendors should have detailed, proven processes honed through years of managing support operations. You should reap the rewards of that efficiency.

So how can you know if your vendor is efficient? 

Select two or three key metrics that are the most crucial for your business and get transparent reporting on them from your vendor. If cost is your driver, then fully loaded cost per contact should definitely be one of those metrics. If you’re not sure which other metrics to select, see our Ultimate Guide to Customer Support Metrics

 

To get an even better idea of whether or not you’re getting savings, you can always seek quotes or take bids from other vendors — see where you can save or get more efficient. But be upfront with the companies bidding, so they understand the situation — submitting a bid is a significant time expenditure for companies. At GlowTouch, we offer a free vendor assessment service, including cost comparisons, to make the process easy.

2. Are Your Risks Properly Managed and Reduced?

Customer support partners must manage and reduce your risks. Here’s what that looks like: 

  • Secure facilities — both physical and cyber security are necessary to ensure only appropriate employees get appropriate access 
  • 24/7 on-site backup power generation 
  • Multiple, redundant Internet service providers 
  • Stable staffing — will employees always be able to get to work?
    • Company-provided transportation — a must if employees don’t have cars (which is the case in many developing countries, such as India) and can come in crucial, especially if local public transportation is down
    • Company-provided employee housing — expected by employees in many parts of the world

Customer support partners must manage and reduce your risks. #CustomerSupport Click To Tweet

3. Would Adding Vendors and Locations Reduce Risks?

For many companies with sizable operations, it’s wise to use multiple outsourced vendors — in other words, don’t put your eggs all in one basket. 

Weather-related events and labor-market disruptions can be key factors in many parts of the world, but if you have multiple teams across the globe, you can almost always have at least one location up and running. And, having access to multiple locations and teams makes covering high volumes and multiple time zones much easier.  

Last, having multiple vendors can reduce risks and improve efficiency, as you can test different channels and types of contacts with different vendors to identify your optimal setup. 

 If you have one vendor in one place, it might make sense to diversify your support investment.

4. Are Your Customers Satisfied? 

If you shift or add support through an outsourced partner, keeping staffing levels steady, your partner should match your customer satisfaction numbers after a short ramp-up time. 

While cost efficiency and customer satisfaction (as measured by CSAT, NPS, star ratings or otherwise), are often a tradeoff based on how many staff and budget resources you can allocate, your support vendor has to meet whichever (realistic) standards you select. In some cases, an outsourced vendor can actually increase customer satisfaction. If your partner’s resources are less expensive and more efficient than an in-house team, you can see faster resolutions and higher satisfaction.

5. Is Their Account Management Up to Par?

Your outsourced support vendor should be responsive, put you first and maintain excellent communication. This seems obvious but is often overlooked when choosing a partner. But if they don’t serve you well, and you pay their bills, how well are they serving your customers? Some specific areas to watch include:

  • Planning for any necessary downtime and promptly informing you ahead of time whenever possible 
  • Bringing industry expertise and customer insights back to you in a closed loop 
  • Proactively communicating with you in a regular, structured way that keeps you in the loop — e.g. weekly calls with standard reporting
    • Proactively spotting trends in different types of contacts and resolutions to solve root causes and reduce contacts 
    • Hiring and training staff members before the need to add staff can become a pain point

6. Can They Handle the Full Customer Support Lifecycle?

Support operations should be able to adapt to your goals and challenges. If you’re like most companies, you’ll likely receive contacts across:

  • Pre-sales 
  • Onboarding (for your new customers) 
  • Product support 
  • Billing 
  • Retention and account growth (cross-selling and upselling) 

The best vendors can work with you to develop specialized approaches to all phases of the customer support lifecycle. You may not need full lifecycle coverage or want one vendor to do it all, but it’s important to know if your partner can be there through all phases of your customer lifecycle.

It’s worth it to have the conversation with your vendor to see what parts of the process they can and can’t take on, and potentially supplement where necessary. For example, handling retention, cross-selling and upselling through support can actually turn support into a profit center. For more information, email us at info@glowtouch.com

About GlowTouch

GlowTouch is a privately held and WBENC-certified, woman-owned enterprise, founded in 2002. We provide personalized contact center, business processing, and technology outsourcing solutions to clients around the world. Our 2,300+ employees deliver operational excellence with high-touch engagement garnering recognition by independent bodies such as Everest Group, International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP), and a six-time honoree on the Inc. 5000. GlowTouch is headquartered in Louisville, KY, with onshore contact centers in Louisville, KY, and Miami, FL; a nearshore presence in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and offshore locations in Mangalore, Bangalore, and Mysore India. To learn more about GlowTouch, visit www.GlowTouch.com

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email

Related Posts

White Glove Service

White Glove Service

Premium Service, Without the Premium Price To date, as best we can tell, no customer of any organization in any industry has complained about being