Customer Service Basics: Is It Time You Outsource Your Answering Service?

In today's ever-changing business landscape, customer service trends are always changing.  Your customers want to be able to contact a representative any time of the day or night, whenever a problem arises. A 24/7 answering services are becoming the norm rather than the exception and this can be a challenge for many business.

The question arises as to whether to keep your answering service in-house or to outsource all or part of your answering service to help carry the burden. There are many factors to consider when considering this issue.

Cost Versus Value

There is no question that outsourcing can save you money in business. When you hire personnel in-house, you will incur costs in the hiring process, training, and of course paying your new employees.

When you outsource, you hire a third-party company, pay them a set fee for services, and the third-party company incurs any hiring or training costs.Thus, when considering outsourcing your 24/7 answering service, the cost benefit falls squarely in favor of outsourcing. However, you must consider if the value is equally as beneficial. 

Many outsourced 24/7 answering services are so cost-effective for one of two reasons. First, employees are minimally trained and given only the basic knowledge of the products necessary to sufficiently provide customer service. Second, they often employ call center representatives outside of the continental United States. 

This is not to say that call center representatives outside of the United States are not as valuable as those from within the United States, but you must consider your clientele. Do you serve an international clientele or are your customers solely in the United States? What demographic in the United States do you serve? Will customers be put off by customer service representatives who may have heavy accents?

These are all factors you must consider. Also consider the type of customer service needs your clients have. If they require in-depth knowledge of products, procedures, or local rules or regulations, outsourcing may not be as beneficial to your clients as hiring new staff of your own. 

Control Versus Freedom

When you hire new staff, you are largely in control. Members of management in your company select candidates, perform interviews, and select new hires. You control the way they are trained, and you control the work they do while at the company. The locus of control falls within your company.

When you outsource help, you gain freedom by relinquishing ground-level control. You don't hire individual representatives within the third-party company. You don't train them. And  you don't directly monitor or control the work that they do. You do have control of your relationship with the third-party company as a whole, but not complete control.

This could be problematic in some cases, or can give you enormous freedom to focus on other aspects of your business. You must consider the importance of micro-level control for your organization when deciding whether to outsource your 24/7 answering service.

While there are no hard and fast rules to follow when deciding whether to outsource your 24/7 answering service, there are important issues to consider. You must know your business and clientele well to know what choice to make. Issues such as cost versus value and control versus freedom will help guide you in your decision.