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Before you outsource your customer relations…

Sometimes at Intelligent Sourcing we like to highlight interesting articles elsewhere that we consider useful. Today’s example is from Customerthink, which offers five things to consider before outsourcing your customer services function.

Their examples are all reasonable, including your actual need, the ownership, the ROI, the training and added services (this is possibly the most important point: the belief that it goes without saying that certain services will be included has undone many partnerships.

We have five of our own (in no particular order):

  • The approach. Is the outsourcing company you’re speaking to looking to become a full partner in your customer services or is it more of a traditional customer/supplier relationship they are offering you? Much in the way of innovation and best practice can come from a partnership approach, but this may not be right in every circumstance. Also don’t expect “full partner” to be cheap!
  • Your own approach: are you going to let the partner do their job? We still speak to people who aren’t allowed near the social media side of customer relations so they end up effectively responding to Facebook posts they haven’t seen, or expected to know an end customer has been Tweeting when they haven’t seen it.
  • The culture: the vast majority of clients like the customer to feel they’re talking direct to the company and not a third party when they call. So, will they sound like you? If you’re a young company with a relaxed air, can the agent put this across – or if you’re on the corporate, traditional side, will they sound too informal?
  • Strategy: You know what your company needs now or else you wouldn’t be looking for help. Ask an outsourcing partner where it sees the service going over a period of time. More webchat? Chatbots? They should understand all of these things and have a view.
  • Finally, understand your customer and their needs as well as your business’ own requirements. If they go away you don’t have a business – so look at how your partner is going to interact with them.

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