The market for customer service outsourcing has been growing for years, and for good reason. According to PR Newswire, the global contact center outsourcing market size is estimated to soar up to $241,370 million by 2027 from $180,440 million in 2020, at a CAGR of 4.2% during 2021-2027. With business increasing rapidly, there is a growing need to resolve customer demands. Outsourcing customer service is a great way to save time and money on operations and improve the quality of a company's customer interactions. Businesses can choose to outsource all or part of their customer service department without having to increase their workforce or spend additional money on recruiting new employees.
Contact center outsourcing involves helping an external contact center or contact team manage calls, surveys and other customer service operations and is an effective way to reduce costs and improve customer service. Contact center agents are trained to handle the questions and concerns people have about a brand’s products and services. They're also able to see patterns in the way users interact with the products or services, enabling them to tailor their responses specifically to those users' needs.
By outsourcing customer support through a contact center, businesses ensure all their customers get the same level of service quickly and efficiently. Contact center outsourcing also allows brands to focus on other high-priority areas of their business such as product development, marketing, sales, etc.
Every organization, regardless of size or industry, requires a dedicated team to handle customer interactions. Whether it's addressing queries, resolving issues and providing information, effective communication with customers is essential for building and maintaining a positive brand image. However, businesses are often at a crossroads when deciding how to structure this crucial aspect of their operations. There are essentially two ways to manage customer interactions: through an in-house team or by partnering with an outsourced contact center. Each approach has its merits, but outsourcing is an increasingly popular option for the following reasons:
Focus on core competencies
Running an efficient contact center requires significant time, effort and resources. By outsourcing these operations to a specialized service provider, businesses redirect their focus and resources toward core competencies — the activities that define their unique value proposition. This shift enables organizations to enhance their competitive edge, innovate more effectively and allocate resources strategically.
In today's globalized economy, businesses serve customers across different time zones. Maintaining 24/7 availability can be a logistical challenge for in-house teams, leading to potential gaps in customer service. Outsourced contact centers, however, are well-equipped to provide round-the-clock support, ensuring that businesses can meet the demands of a diverse and global customer base.
Outsourcing contact center operations supports risk mitigation for businesses. Service providers are equipped to handle different challenges, including technology disruptions, staffing issues and call volume fluctuation. This flexibility ensures businesses maintain a consistent level of service, even in the face of unforeseen challenges.
Improved customer experience
Contact center outsourcing enhances the overall customer experience. Specialized service providers bring a wealth of experience in managing customer interactions, implementing best practices and deploying advanced technologies. This expertise translates into improved response times, personalized interactions and a seamless customer journey, fostering greater satisfaction and loyalty.
When businesses opt for contact center outsourcing, they aren't merely hiring a service; they are forming a strategic partnership. Service providers become an extension of the business, aligning their goals with those of their clients. This collaborative approach furthers a shared commitment to deliver exceptional customer service and drive long-term success.
Businesses are increasingly turning to contact center outsourcing to gain a competitive edge and meet the evolving expectations of their clientele. The decision to outsource contact center operations is driven by a myriad of benefits that significantly impact an organization's ability to deliver exceptional customer experiences.
Some of the key advantages that make contact center outsourcing a strategic move for businesses are:
Contact center outsourcing provides businesses with unparalleled flexibility, allowing them to swiftly adapt to changing customer service needs. This flexibility extends to multiple functions, including the ability to adjust staffing levels, deploy resources based on demand fluctuations and seamlessly implement new technologies. This adaptability ensures that businesses respond promptly to dynamic market conditions and customer expectations.
Staying current with technological advancements is pivotal in delivering cutting-edge customer experiences. However, acquiring and maintaining the latest technology can be prohibitively expensive and challenging for in-house operations. By outsourcing contact center services, businesses gain access to state-of-the-art technologies without undue financial burdens, ensuring they leverage the most innovative tools and platforms to enhance customer interactions.
Outsourcing contact center operations opens the door to a diverse and skilled talent pool. Partnering with a specialized service provider provides access to experienced professionals who understand the intricacies of customer service. This diverse talent pool contributes to a richer customer support experience and allows businesses to tap into specialized skills that may be scarce or locally unavailable.
One of the primary drivers for contact center outsourcing is its inherent cost efficiency. Outsourcing eliminates substantial upfront investments in infrastructure, technology and training. By leveraging economies of scale, service providers spread costs across multiple clients, resulting in a more cost-effective solution for businesses seeking to optimize their customer service operations.
Fluctuations in customer demand, especially during peak seasons or promotional periods, pose challenges for in-house customer service teams. Outsourcing contact center services allows businesses to quickly scale up or ramp down in response to changing support needs. This ensures optimal resource utilization and the ability to deliver consistent service, regardless of fluctuations in customer interactions.
For businesses operating in diverse and global markets, language can be a significant barrier to effective customer service. Outsourcing contact center operations allows businesses to provide support in multiple languages, ensuring customers communicate in their preferred language. This linguistic diversity enhances the customer experience and fosters stronger connections with a broader audience.
Customer journey planning requires a deep understanding of customer behavior, preferences and pain points. Outsourced contact centers include experienced teams with the expertise to map out comprehensive customer journeys. This knowledge enables businesses to design personalized offerings that drive satisfaction and loyalty.
Contact center outsourcing enables businesses to strike the right balance between digital/automated interactions and live support. Leveraging advanced technologies such as AI, chatbots and automation, along with skilled human agents, businesses have a seamless and efficient customer support ecosystem. This combination ensures that customers receive the best of both worlds; the speed and efficiency of automated processes with the empathy and problem-solving abilities of live agents.
Understanding the types of contact center outsourcing solutions is key to crafting a strategy that aligns with customer expectations and business objectives. The outsourcing models are:
Onshore outsourcing involves partnering with a service provider in the same country. This model has advantages such as cultural alignment, language familiarity and minimal time zone differences. Onshore outsourcing is an ideal choice for businesses prioritizing seamless customer experience and effective communication in the same geographic region.
Nearshore outsourcing refers to collaborating with a service provider in a neighboring or nearby country. This model strikes a balance between cost savings and geographic proximity, so businesses benefit from the cultural similarities, linguistic affinity and cost efficiencies. Nearshore outsourcing is particularly advantageous for businesses seeking to optimize operational costs and customer service quality.
Offshore outsourcing entails partnering with a service provider in a different country or continent. This model is often chosen for its potential cost savings, as labor and operational expenses are lower in certain regions. While offshore outsourcing introduces time zone differences and cultural nuances, it offers a compelling solution for businesses aiming to achieve significant cost efficiency without compromising service quality.
Automated vs. live agent outsourcing
The evolution of technology introduced the option of automated contact center solutions, leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots and other automated processes. This model, when integrated with live agent support, creates a dynamic and efficient customer service ecosystem. Automated solutions excel in handling routine queries, allowing live agents to focus on more complex and emotionally nuanced interactions. Striking the right balance between automated and live agent support optimizes cost efficiency and enhances overall customer experience.
Tailored outsourcing solutions
Businesses can also choose the extent to which they outsource their contact center operations. An outsourcer can function as a complete customer service department, handling a broad spectrum of tasks or specific elements while maintaining an in-house team. This hybrid model allows for greater customization, ensuring that businesses retain control over critical functions while benefiting from the specialized expertise of an outsourced partner.
While each outsourcing model has its merits, a one-size-fits-all approach may not be the most effective strategy. A blended approach, combining onshore, nearshore and offshore outsourcing solutions, along with a mix of automated and live agent interactions, offers a comprehensive and flexible contact center strategy.
Embarking on the journey of contact center outsourcing requires a thoughtful approach to ensure a seamless and effective partnership. From cultural nuances to time zone differences, several factors must be carefully considered to optimize the experience.
The key considerations that businesses should keep in mind during the contact center outsourcing process are:
Learning curve and vendor familiarity
Outsourcing has a learning curve as the vendor becomes acquainted with the intricacies of a business, its products and the needs of its customers. Establishing clear communication channels and providing comprehensive training is required, to foster a productive and collaborative relationship.
Time zone differences
Time zone differences impact real-time communication and responsiveness. It's essential to consider how these differences may affect the overall efficiency of your operations. Coordination between onshore and offshore teams must be managed to ensure critical tasks are addressed promptly and that the workflow remains uninterrupted.
Cultural differences influence communication styles, expectations and problem-solving approaches. Establishing cultural awareness training for in-house and outsourced teams fosters understanding and helps create a cohesive working environment. This awareness contributes to more harmonious collaborations and enhances the quality of customer interactions.
For voice-based services, such as inbound telephone support, the neutrality of accents becomes a significant consideration. Ensuring the outsourced team communicates effectively and clearly with your customer base maintains a professional image and enhances CX. For digital channels such as messaging and email, accent neutrality is less critical but effective communication skills remain important.
Proximity is a consideration if regular on-site collaboration is essential. While advancements in technology enable effective remote collaboration, some businesses may prefer a closer physical proximity to facilitate face-to-face meetings, training sessions and strategic planning. It is vital to assess the importance of physical presence based on the collaboration and desired level of engagement.
Creating a single customer experience
Maintaining a consistent and unified customer experience is crucial when blending insourced and outsourced touch points. Customers should perceive no difference between in-house and outsourced interactions, regardless of channel. Establishing standardized processes, with training protocols and communication guidelines ensures alignment with your brand identity.
Recognized as a global customer experience outsourcing provider by Everest Group, Startek® supports brands across the globe through the delivery of world-class contact center services. To learn more about the key strengths, proprietary solutions, partnerships, market impact, vision and capabilities Startek® offers, read the Everest Group Customer Experience Management (CXM) Services PEAK Matrix® Assessment 2023 – APAC.