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Critical Considerations Before Outsourcing Your E-Commerce Customer Support

Critical Considerations Before Outsourcing Your E-Commerce Customer Support

You have a product or service that is going to fill afirst
market that you have researched. Everything is in place except for your customer support. Nevertheless, a pressing question lays before you. Should you keep your customer support in-house or outsource it? Before answer that question, let’s consider a few areas that will help you to make a sound decision.

Understanding the Importance of Customer Support

US Customer Satisfaction is a standard measurement of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Every three months the ACSI issues a report that tracks the performance of various industries supplying products and service to the US consumers. Since 2000, e-commerce and manufacturing has maintained the highest satisfaction scores in all industries.

asci_imgWhat does this mean for your e-commerce business?

Your prospective consumers already have high expectations for e-commerce transactions and customer support, which mean you have an uphill battle. Top e-commerce companies like Amazon, eBay, Dell.com, Buy.com, Costco.com, and others make concerted efforts to keep their customer satisfaction ratings as high as possible. Consequently, your customer support will need to match or exceed other e-commerce entities or your consumers will choose other e-commerce vendors.

Cost of In-house Customer Support

Back in 2012, e-commerce topped $1 trillion in sales. However, in order to accomplish this, companies had to run an airtight operation to maximize profits and customer satisfaction. Conventional wisdom tends to lean towards the idea that an in-house customer support setup would be cheaper than outsourcing. However, there are costs that many businesses overlook. Here are a few:

Labor Productivity

An in-house call center requires labor and training. Even when e-commerce companies discover ways to lower costs, their savings are often lost due to labor productivity. The following covers some of the reasons why:

  • Finding the right staffing ratio is costly. Having too many full-time call center staff is costly; especially if productivity drops. On the other hand, attendance & absenteeism is an issue with part-time staff.
  • Training directly effects performance. Furthermore, training requires a considerable investment of time and money.
  • Many in-house setups use stringent supervisors to boost productivity and lower costs. Although this formula gets some results, usually leads to high employee turnover rates that eventually hinder consistent performance.

Before you decide to go in-house, you should make sure that you have budgeted for the hiring and training of customer support staff and managers. Additionally, you should realize that low productivity will hurt your profits until your in-house team gets up to speed.

Time & Costs Considerations for Call Center Tech

Setting up the framework of a call center will incur time and money. The primary reason are

Forrester reports omni-channel customer experience to be one of the top customer service trends in 2014. Today, many customers are expecting to find multi-channel service and support from the brands they purchase products and services from.

Naturally, organizations around the world and their contact centers are starting to pick up on this trend. For example, many companies are trying to integrate new popular social care channels, such as live chat, content moderation and social media, into their workflow and technology environments. A Global Contact Center Survey by Deloitte Consulting reveals that today only 33% of contact centers provide social media contact channels. And cost is a major factor.

In addition to paying for seat licenses, sourcing a new software suite includes soft costs – software evaluation, testing, and negotiation. A large effort is required to make a full transition from an old application suit to a new one and retrain your staff to use the new technology.

Implementation and support of new software oftentimes requires additional technical personnel with the necessary skillset(s). Alternatively, if contact center management decides to utilize existing human resources, this often leads to increased labor hours for implementation, as well as time required for troubleshooting and attuning its performance to the current environment.

Training is one of the most costly factors in contact center costs. New tools requires new training programs and it’s not about doing it, but how you do it. This will involve not only an introduction into the interface and navigating the interface, but also the ins-and-outs using the tool within a customer workflow. Management needs to be trained on administering the software – interpreting the metrics, reporting, and quality monitoring. All this converts into hours of developing and running an efficient training program, which eats up a good portion of your resources and budget.

Inefficient business processes

A contact center’s internal processes strongly influence the quality of customer interactions. An effective process is designed to utilize all the elements of a call center’s operation with maximum productivity. If one link in the chain is weak or broken, the whole chain (process) is compromised.

The costs of ineffective business processes include:

  • Inability to adapt to seasonal fluctuations or unpredicted spikes in workload volume.
  • Costly capital expenditures, idle infrastructure, poor facilities management
  • Overstaffing or understaffing, imbalanced supervisor-to-agent ratio
  • Lack of workforce optimization, poorly implemented and expensive training programs, high employee turnover rate
  • Call-handling inefficiencies – failure to achieve first-call resolution, track and report results, proactively serve the customer to prevent repeat issues

Any single one of these processes has its share in driving up your in-house contact center’s costs. Evaluating your current call center strategy will help you to come up with new ideas on how to reduce your total costs and achieve actual, measurable savings.

Identifying productivity leaks as they arise creates almost immediate opportunities for improvement. If you are not certain that your contact center’s core operations are mature enough to instantly react to the changing business environment, consumer and employee expectations and technology trends, you always have an option to hand over these tasks to an outsourced contact center partner. They can save you money without sacrificing quality of customer service.

If you are ready for such a change, we encourage you to reach out to us. One of our experts can share ways we’ve helped other organizations manage their contact center costs more effectively.

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