Eight Questions Online Retailers Should Ask before Outsourcing Customer Service

Outsourced Customer Service Team

Customer service outsourcing can be a cost-effective way to manage customer-related activities. You hire a third-party vendor, such as a business process outsourcing (BPO) company, to handle your service or product orders, requests, and issues.

The BPO company should be able to deliver excellent customer satisfaction. Its support team will be well-trained to communicate with online shoppers and help transform their purchasing journey into a rewarding experience.

Before outsourcing your retail processes, take note of eight critical questions to help you find the right partner. Use these in your ecommerce business strategy.

Read on to learn how to outsource effectively.

1. Does the Vendor Have a Dedicated Team of Specialists?

Ensure that the prospective BPO firm will provide you with a specialist team focusing entirely on your activities. A dedicated team typically consists of an experienced supervisor and top-performing agents. It might also include support analysts and a project manager.

The benefits of a dedicated team:

  • Experienced individuals address various product or service concerns fast.
  • You can oversee customer service activities such as choosing the work procedures, determining the number of tasks, and deciding on the types of assignments.
  • People familiar with your overall customer operations can help you analyze your processes more accurately.
  • You can provide consistently high-quality customer service.

Forbes reports that over 50% of customers are ready to change brands to experience better customer service. By contrast, fewer than 5% of customers are willing to stay even after receiving poor service.

2. Is the BPO Provider Accessible 24/7?

Choose a BPO partner that opens its communication lines for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can regularly contact the customer service team for questions and other related matters.

The benefits of accessibility:

  • You can regularly receive updates from the team regarding the progress and status of outsourced processes.
  • Accessibility improves the work efficiency and productivity of the customer service team.
  • The team can express their ideas constructively and freely, raising their confidence.
  • Accessibility helps close cultural gaps, especially for an offshore team based in countries such as the Philippines, India, and Ukraine.

3. Does the BPO Partner Guarantee Data Security and Privacy?

Check whether the service provider stores all crucial and sensitive buyer data using cloud technology and the latest customer service software. Also, determine whether it implements strict security policies across platforms.

High data security and privacy can benefit you because they:

  • Prevent unauthorized persons, entities, or groups from accessing customer data
  • Protect your reputation and brand
  • Reduce the chance of suffering substantial financial costs due to a data breach

IBM recently reported that the average cost of data breaches worldwide in 2022 stood at $4.35 million. That’s up by almost 3% from $4.2 million in 2021. The company noted that the global average cost stood at an all-time high.

4. Can the BPO Provider Help With Compliance?

The third-party vendor must help you complete compliance requirements. It must ensure that your retail operations follow government and industry regulations.

Examples of compliance standards are the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA compliance), and the National Do Not Call Registry (DNC).

Compliance can benefit you because it:

  • Protects you from facing hefty fines, penalties, and even imprisonment
  • Prevents you from losing clients or reputational damage
  • Improves customer trust because the public sees you as a law-abiding organization
  • Enhances business insights and strategies as you align compliance needs with your processes
Call center headset

5. Does the BPO Company Offer Multichannel and 24/7 Support?

Select a service provider that online shoppers can quickly contact at any time of day. It should have multichannel or omnichannel support for seamless communication between agents and customers.

Multichannel functions include:

  • Phones (fixed lines and mobile)
  • Email
  • Live chat
  • Chatbots
  • Social media
  • Community forums
  • Self-service options

Multichannel and around-the-clock support can benefit you because it:

  • Allows consumers to contact you through their preferred communication channel and at their convenient time
  • Provides smooth communication between customers and agents without interruptions or loss of contact
  • Broadens market reach, enabling you to reach buyers who are heavy users of social media and messaging apps, such as millennials

6. Does the Third-party Provider Use the Latest Technologies?

Work with a BPO firm that applies the latest customer service platforms, tools, and software in its daily operations. It must depend on help desk and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions to manage processes and monitor consumer behavior.

Using the latest technologies can:

  • Improve agent output because they can monitor each employee’s performance
  • Raise consumer satisfaction and experience because agents learn more about the customers by using the tools to check their histories, previous complaints and inquiries, preferred communication methods, and more
  • Help agents manage a high volume of customer calls and inquiries across communication channels

7. Is the BPO Company Transparent With Its Service Rates?

Cost-effectiveness might be your biggest motivation for outsourcing retail functions. Request the potential partner to provide you with the complete list of charges and other pricing plans. Inquire about their hidden and extra charges, if any.

Service fee transparency is beneficial because it:

  • Enables you to make a budget and manage costs better
  • Builds your trust and confidence in the BPO partner
  • Allows you to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether partnering with a prospect is feasible

8. Does the Service Provider Consider Customer Service a Revenue Driver?

Partner with a service provider that manages customer service to drive revenue. The third-party vendor must not only view consumer service as a means of assistance but also as a crucial part of enhancing your brand image.

Customer service as a revenue-generator can:

  • Increase repeat business because of higher customer retention
  • Contribute to the company’s long-term growth
  • Decrease marketing and advertising costs because you don’t need to focus on finding new customers; your existing market base provides a steady income stream

Final Thoughts

Outsourcing customer service is a significant business decision. Conduct detailed research, ask for expert assistance, and weigh the costs and benefits before deciding to outsource your customer service. This strategy can make or break your ecommerce business.

 About the Author

Rene Mallari is a B2B content writer for Unity Communications, an Arizona-based Inc. 5000 company specializing in outsourcing and offshoring services.

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