Customer Support Outsourcing Best Practices

I’m not going to lie to you. Whenever possible, I strongly discourage customer support outsourcing, for a multitude of reasons. Many will cite economic or political agendas behind their dislike of outsourcing, but that has nothing to do with it. As far as I am concerned, the problem comes from relying too much on third party companies instead of taking accountability themselves.

Now, sometimes you have no choice but to use customer support outsourcing because of budget, resource limitations, contractual obligations, or a number of other things. Perhaps you’re an online company with no physical location or offices, and therefore, don’t have the same departmental structure a traditional business might have.

Either way, there are some important tips that can promote best practices for customer support outsourcing.

#1 – Avoid Language Barriers

People often mistake this issue for some political or patriotic agenda, but that’s nonsense. The problem with outsourcing overseas with support or service has nothing to do with a sense of national loyalty so much as it has to do with language and cultural barriers.

During support or service, clear communication is critical, not only to make sure that the support agent understands the customer and vice versa, but to diffuse some of the tension, frustration and even anger a customer may have. The same can be said for cultural barriers. In one culture, a certain form of speech may be considered professional and expected, but not in another. Misinterpreted terminology or tone, as well as a thick incoherent accent can result in some serious miscommunications.

So, when you outsource, choose wisely They need to be fluent in the language and dialect of a user they need to understand the tone and inflection that the user’s culture and they need to make use of local terminology.

#2 – Choose a Provider that Understands Your Service

Outsourced customer support is often problematic because someone NOT from within your company has to represent someone WITHIN your company. Dealing with issues unrelated to your company’s service will not end well. Not only does choosing a provider – who isn’t well-versed in your industry – a bad idea, it is going to result in errors. If the outsourced representatives don’t understand the demographic you cater to, the service you provide, your company’s own culture and philosophy of business, then they will badly misrepresent you – even if they do so unintentionally.

This actually happens very often, and I’m surprised more blogs and white papers haven’t discussed this aspect of outsourcing. Choose a company with experience dealing closely with the type of service you provide, and make sure that they are trained to understand who you are as a company!

#3 – Maintain a Liaison

Negligence the downfall of a lot of outsourcing relationships – that have actually gotten their bases well-covered. So, if you were reading the previous points and thinking, “Well I tried that and I still had issues,”  Negligence is probably why.

Companies that are competent support providers and customers. Outsourced support should speak the language of your company and know the services of your company – down pat. As a company leader, you need to stay in constant contact with them, and keep an eye on them; train them where needed. Support and service provision requires adaptation and problem solving as well as rules and regulations.

You need to keep an eye on so they don’t wander into dangerous territory. It’s easy to miss updates;  slip-ups happen and can’t be helped. The trick is to keep an eye on it and address it when it happens.

In conclusion, avoid customer support outsourcing if you don’t have to do it. But if you have to go down this route, follow these customer support outsourcing best practices  to ensure you provide your clients with great support

Stefanie Amini
is Specialist in Customer Success and chief writer and editor of I Want It Now, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her @StefWalkMe