Outsourcing customer support services can add a huge amount of value to a business. When it works, you can benefit from the experience of highly trained professionals and improved efficiency. You can also increase your scale in a way that just wasn’t possible with only your in-house team.

But of course, switching from an in-house team to an outsourced team isn’t as simple as flicking a switch. In this article, we’ll highlight a few tips for preparing your sales team for an outsourced customer support service.

What is outsourced customer support?

Customer support outsourcing is the process of moving some or all of your customer support operations to an external specialist. Choosing the right partner can ensure your customers continue to receive the best support, while also freeing up internal resources.

Mouse browsing multiple channels representing outsourced customer support

Identify your communication channels

For many years, talking to customers meant either you were meeting them in person or speaking to them over the phone. However, today digital technologies have permeated every part of daily life. As a result, consumers and businesses are embracing new and novel communication channels. 

Consumers use these channels to keep in touch with their friends and families, but increasingly they expect to reach businesses too. A typical customer support team might today use channels including:

  • Phone
  • Live chat
  • Video chat
  • Social media
  • Email
  • Online forums
  • SMS

If you’re preparing to outsource your customer support, you should make sure you’ve identified all the channels you use. But it might also be a good time to think about whether you should be experimenting with new channels. At the same time, you can consider cutting down on the channels you don’t use heavily.

When choosing which customer service channels to focus on, it’s important to know where your customers are. Trying to communicate with teenage customers? SMS probably isn’t your best bet. Need to keep in touch with retirees? You probably shouldn’t choose TikTok.

Two professionals looking at a sheet of paper in an office setting

Choose the right supplier

When you work with an outsourced customer support supplier, a team of receptionists will answer calls made to your business. From a customer’s point of view, it’ll seem as if they were talking to your team. The receptionists then capture the key information from the call and pass the messages on to you and your team. This can be done via a CRM, an app, an email or an SMS.

When you’re choosing which provider to use, there are a number of things worth thinking about. The first of these is the warmth and professionalism of their receptionists. After all, the receptionist is often the first impression that a customer has of your company. If your receptionist is friendly and obviously competent, then the customer will perceive your company in the same way too.

It’s also important to know how much the supplier provider will be able to personalise your service. No two businesses are the same. That means every business varies in its customer service requirements. Working with an inflexible supplier might make life easier in the short term, but it will create headaches in the long term.

Smilig businesswoman looking at her watch while on the phone

You should also make sure their software will integrate with yours. After all, your outsourced receptionists will need to work seamlessly with all other parts of your business.

It’s also worth considering what contract terms you’ll be signing up to. Is it only a short contract or is there the option to try before you buy? Or will you be locked into a long-term contract even if you realise the supplier wasn’t the right choice?

Choose your call transfer rules

Once you know who you’re working with, it’s time to establish rules for forwarding your calls. There are three types of call forwarding:

  1. Automated call forwarding forwards your calls based on a set schedule. That means that, during the day, you decide that your calls should go to your in-house staff. On evenings or weekends, the automated call forwarding software will transfer your calls to your customer support service provider.
  2.  ‘Find me’ call forwarding is where a forward chain is followed based on a pre-agreed list of contacts. For example, if Person A is unavailable, the call is transferred to Person B. If Person B is unavailable, the call is transferred to Person C. If Person C is unavailable, the call is then forwarded to the outsourced receptionist.
  3. Manual call forwarding allows you to forward calls on an ad hoc basis. For example, let’s say you normally want to receive calls during the working day. However, on one particular day, you’re working towards an important deadline and you don’t want to take any calls. No problem! Just set your status to unavailable and your calls will automatically be transferred to your virtual receptionist.
Smiling receptionist answering calls as part of 24/7 live answering service

Set expectations

When you’re outsourcing your customer support, it’s important to work with internal stakeholders and make sure their needs are met. It’s also crucial to make sure your expectations are aligned and realistic.

For example, just because you’re outsourcing some of your telesales, it doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily outsourcing all of them. There will in all likelihood still be an important role for your in-house sales team to play. But it will then be important that they know how to align their own activity with the external team. 

Gather feedback as you go

It’s always unlikely that you’ll find the perfect outsourced customer support model right away. Ultimately, any major change is always going to need a period of refinement. How do you make sure your process is as optimised as possible? It’s important to continually get feedback from all parties and regularly measure your results against your goals and objectives.

Not getting the results you wanted? Work with your team to tweak your processes and look to make small improvements that will have an outsized impact.

Man in shirt and tie with eyes closed and fingers crossed

Setting clear SMART goals can be an effective way of making sure you’re measuring your progress. SMART goals are:

  • Specific: What will be accomplished? What actions will you take?
  • Measurable: What data will you use to measure the goal?
  • Achievable: Is the goal actually realistic? Do you have the necessary resources to make this happen?
  • Relevant: Does this goal align with broader goals?
  • Time-bound: What is the time frame for accomplishing this goal?

For example, “We’ll reply to inbound leads more quickly” is not a SMART goal. But “we’ll reply to 100% of all inbound leads within 24 hours during this year” is.

Graph against blue background showing arrow positive trending direction

So, are you considering outsourced customer support?

If you’ve read this article and you think that outsourcing your customer support might be right for you, we can help.

Get in touch with us today and hear about how we can help your business become more efficient, flexible and profitable.