Smart companies always do whatever they can to eliminate costs. Budgeting is key as it can help businesses invest more into the aspects of their company that they want to focus on — such as employee appreciation or newer equipment.
One way that many companies consider cutting costs is through outsourcing call centers. Some industry leaders firmly stand by this decision, believing that it alleviates costs that can afford to be cut down. Others, however, disagree with this decision and believe that keeping call centers close to home is worth the additional costs.
If your business is in the process of considering this switch, read on to learn more about outsourcing customer service as well as the pros and cons of hiring an external call center.
Outsourcing Customer Service
Outsourcing customer service allows companies to re-focus their time and resources on other aspects of the business, such as product development, content creation, and sales. Rather than assigning more employees to their customer service department, companies can hire an external service to oversee a specific business function, e.g. existing or small business customers.
These outsourced services can also take over a business's call center completely. This means the company is outsourcing all of the operations involved with that call center, rather than just one or two functions.
Outsourcing Call Center
Call center outsourcing occurs when a business hires an external customer service organization to staff and manage their call center from a separate location. In this situation, the customer service organization hires and trains their employees to handle all communication with customers for the business.
There are many pros and cons to call center outsourcing that businesses weigh when considering whether or not to move forward with the decision. Below are a few we pull together that you can consider when making your decision.
Pros of Outsourcing a Call Center
1. It costs less.
One of the primary reasons for outsourcing customer service is that it vastly lowers call center costs. The cost of living in certain foreign nations — such as India, which is a common choice for outsourcing — is much lower than that of the U.S. Companies. These countries pay workers lower wages, thus saving your company money.
2. Your company can save time.
Interviewing, hiring, and training call center employees can take longer than expected. You need to make sure these employees have the skills to handle interpersonal communication, gain knowledge on the company and products, and solve customer problems. An outsourced call center can take some of this weight off of your company's shoulders by handling staffing. That way, you can refocus your time on other in-house tasks that require your attention.
3. It's helpful for international expansion.
If your company is already international or is considering international expansion, it's helpful to have outsourced call centers. Specifically, it's beneficial if those call centers are placed in external nations where you'd like to eventually start doing business. That way, there will already be a local call center in place with employees who speak the same language and are a part of the same culture.
4. There's an increase in flexibility.
Outsourced call center employees work for your company when needed, rather than as full-time employees. Whenever a company has shifting needs, they can quickly and easily assign outsourced call centers to meet those needs, knowing that they don't need to upcharge for changes or pay overtime. Instead, these employees will just continue to be paid for the hours they spend on the phone.
5. You can provide 24/7 customer service.
24/7 customer service is something that has become expected by consumers. However, it's unbelievably costly to pay local employees to work overnight shifts.
By having an outsourced call center, you can easily cover 24 hours of the day just by having international employees work during the daytime. Timezone differences will make 24/7 coverage happen without your having to assign someone extra shifts.
6. You can easily transfer overflow calls.
There are certain times of the year when there's a higher call volume than usual, like around holiday seasons. During these times it can be difficult to manage a sudden spike in customer service calls. By having an outsourced call center whose job is to handle overflow, you can easily transfer calls to the call center without breaking a sweat.
Cons of Outsourcing a Call Center
1. There will likely be communication barriers.
When outsourcing a call center, you might have to prepare yourself if the call center is located in a nation whose first language differs from yours. There might be language barriers on the phone — such as different accents or lack of understanding of local slang — that can impede progress on a call and negatively impact customer experience.
2. Outsourced employees generally have lower product knowledge.
Since these employees are external workers, they'll likely have less knowledge of your company and its products. Although they'll still be trained before starting work, they may only know the basics and won't be able to handle more technical or complex calls.
3. There is a decrease in employee collaboration.
In your company, teams likely work closely together — especially if they're located in the same building. However, in an outsourced call center, employees don't have the same relationships and don't always work in the same building. Thus, team collaboration might decrease, resulting in a halt in the spread of information across your customer service department.
4. There's less of an emphasis on customer satisfaction.
Since outsourced call centers are detached from the business, they don't always feel the same dedication to stellar customer satisfaction. That's not to say these employees don't care about satisfying customers — it's simply that internal employees are more likely to want to build and strengthen customer bonds to build loyal, lifetime customers.
5. You don't have any control over who gets hired.
When a company relinquishes control to an off-shore call center, it's passing over the rights to hire whomever the call center sees fit. These employees don't get passed through the company for approval. Thus, your company might find that some employees hired at these call centers are unfit for the job, but you don't have a say in the situation.
6. This removes local jobs.
Lastly, with an unemployment rate of about 4%, one might worry about the lack of jobs available for local employees. By outsourcing call centers, some companies are taking away those job opportunities from locals and giving them to off-shore employees. While this isn't necessarily a positive or negative concept, it may raise some red flags to customers that value domestic labor.
Now that you've seen the pros and cons of outsourced call centers, you may be wondering, “If outsourced call centers save money, how much do you actually save?”
Studies show that you can cut significant costs by outsourcing your call center to an external provider.
Call Center Outsourcing Costs
Most external call center agents are only paid for their productive time, and on average, they're productive for 85% of each hour. So, if an in-house agent costs $25 per hour, the same employer would only be paying about $21.25 per hour for an outsourced agent. This would save a business 15% on employee wages.
With a greater understanding of the costs and benefits of an outsourced call center, you can take a look at five of the best call center outsourcing companies that may suit your company's needs.
TeleDirect is one of the best call center outsourcing companies because it offers both inbound services, such as reservation services, tier 1 tech support, and lead qualification, and outbound services, such as market research, telesales and upsells, and scheduled callbacks.
In addition, the company offers live chat and email management. TeleDirect offers bilingual services — English and Spanish — to meet the needs of a majority of your customers.
Call Connect India is based in India but has an office in Florida. It provides voice and non-voice services to meet customer needs on whatever platform they choose.
Additionally, Call Connect India offers a voice broadcasting service that streamlines messages to several customers at once. This increases efficiency and helps agents refocus their time on other tasks, such as email management.
1-888-GO-ANSWER is a call center service that offers both inbound and outbound services. However, it's best known for its stellar inbound services, which include support via live chat, telephone, email, and text.
While 1-888-GO-ANSWER has great plans that support all ranges of call volume. You can also request a custom plan that meets the exact needs of your business. It even offers an app, AlwaysOn, that provides you with data and insights in real time.
Global Response prides itself on being an experience center and not a call center. While it offers great call center services, it also provides a plethora of other services, including interactive voice response, email and chat support, order fulfillment and warehousing, and even social media monitoring.
Global Response also offers many technologies, such as real-time data reporting and customized technology integration with your business. The result is a powerhouse call center service that collaborates with your team to ensure it prioritizes the needs and wants of both your company and your customers.
Five Star Call Centers also offers both inbound and outbound services, but it's especially strong with its outbound services. These include upselling and cross-selling, market research and surveys, recruiting, cold calling, fundraising, crisis management, payment reminders, direct mail follow-ups, and more.
Five Star Call Centers will even help you design, organize, and execute personalized campaigns for your customers. It will custom-build your call center package based on the exact needs of your business to ensure you waste no money or time on unneeded services.
For more information on cutting costs for your call center, read about cost-effective call center headsets.
Originally published Mar 18, 2019 8:00:00 AM, updated June 15 2021