22 Jan
18 Min
min to read

Step-by-step Guide To Customer Service Outsourcing Process

Outsourcing

If you are here, you probably already know how outsourcing customer service can save you costs, assist in scalability, and improve your focus on core activities (if not, check out a detailed article on reasons for outsourcing). In fact, 66% of businesses in the USA outsource at least one department, and 59% of them associate it with cutting costs significantly.

Either you’ve decided to outsource customer service to save costs, optimize the customer experience, scale, or for any other reason, you need to have a comprehensive strategy to succeed. It is the only way to avoid costly mistakes (and safety issues).

To help you choose the right partner for your needs and make customer service outsourcing process smooth, we’re going to share the red and green flags to consider and a step-by-step guide to walk you through successful outsourcing.

The discussed best practices for outsourcing that go beyond the surface-level advice that most articles discuss will help you understand how to hire a true partner, not “just a service.”

📎 Disclaimer: Although EverHelp offers customer support outsourcing, we did our best to make this guide not sales-y, but full of actionable advice you can apply to hire us or any other service. We’d rather have you choose the best customer support service for your needs than the best marketed one. 😉

Red Flags vs Green Flags: Criteria To Look For

When you entrust a third-party business to handle customer service on your behalf, you want to lower your overhead and make your company’s operations leaner. So, to be on the safe side and achieve your goals, you need to know about potential red and green flags to consider when hiring customer service outsourcing.

Red Flags vs Green Flags at Customer Support Outsourcing

Considering the negative and positive signs above, here are the factors to consider when looking for your A-class outsourcing service:

  • Strong reputation and positive reviews: Look for providers with a track record of success, positive testimonials, and high satisfaction rates among their current and past clients. Check Clutch.co and G2, and the presence of case studies.
  • Real partnership: You don’t just need a contact center that completes a list of tasks for you. The reasons for outsourcing are usually much deeper. You want a real partner that helps you grow your business by sharing data-driven insights and recommendations. The outsourcing company you plan to hire should be inted in your success as much as you are.
  • Transparent communication: The provider should offer clear, consistent, and open communication channels. This includes being responsive to your queries and transparent about their processes and capabilities.
  • Customizable solutions: A good outsourcing partner will offer solutions that can be tailored to your specific business needs, showing flexibility and adaptability.
  • Experienced and well-trained stuff: Ensure the provider has a team of experienced and skilled customer service representatives. Training in your industry or product-specific knowledge is a plus.
  • Data Security and Compliance: The provider should have strong data security measures in place and comply with relevant data protection regulations (like GDPR, HIPAA, etc.).
  • Technology and Infrastructure: Look for providers that use up-to-date technology and infrastructure to support efficient customer service. Your outsourced customer service needs to have customer relationship management (CRM) software to truly provide the best quality help.
  • Cost-effective solution with reasonable pricing:  A good outsourcing company will always invest in growing their own business while keeping your costs low. They are interested in your growth and don’t want to make money on you. 🔴 Red flags in terms of outsourcing customer service costs are high setup fees, unreasonable per minute charges, training costs, charges to monitor & have access to recordings, etc.
  • Cultural Compatibility: The provider should have a workforce that understands and can relate to your customer base culturally and linguistically. For instance, EverHelp team works in 30+ languages and has regular cultural sensitivity training.
  • Positive Employee Treatment: Companies that treat their employees well tend to have higher levels of staff engagement and customer service quality.
  • Scalability and Flexibility: The ability to scale up or down based on your business needs is crucial for adapting to market changes.

Step-by-Step Guide To Outsourcing Customer Service

Evaluate your current customer support state

Where are you right now? Before you can reach out to a partner, answer this question in detail. This step involves a thorough analysis of your existing operations, identifying areas for customer experience optimization, and setting clear goals for what you hope to achieve through outsourcing. 

Here’s a list of questions to answer for a clearer picture:

Evaluating Current Performance:

  • What are our current KPIs (response time, resolution time, customer satisfaction scores, call abandonment rates) and what do they reveal about our service level?
  • How do customer feedback, survey responses, and interaction logs inform us about common complaints or issues?

Technology and Tools Assessment

  • Are the technologies and tools we use for customer service up to date and efficient?
  • Do we have the right customer relationship management (CRM) and support systems in place?

Team Assessment

  • What is the size of our current customer support team, and are their skill sets aligned with our service requirements?
  • Is our current team overburdened or lacking specific skills that are crucial for our customer service needs?

Process Evaluation

  • Which processes in our current setup are causing delays or customer dissatisfaction?
  • Are there any identifiable inefficiencies in our customer service workflow?

Outsourcing Requirements

  • What level of service do we require from an outsourced partner (e.g., language capabilities, operational hours, specific expertise)?
  • Are there particular skills or expertise we are looking for in an outsourcing partner that our current team lacks?

Outsourcing Goals and Objectives

  • What are our specific, measurable goals for customer service outsourcing process (e.g., reducing response time, enhancing customer satisfaction, scaling support)?
  • How will outsourcing help us meet our customer service objectives more effectively?

Financial Considerations

  • What is the current cost of maintaining our in-house customer support team, including salaries, training, and infrastructure?
  • Have we established a budget for outsourcing services, and does it include a thorough cost-benefit analysis?

Define your outsourcing strategy & necessary criteria

Once you have the answers to the previous questions, it’s time to determine the level of customer service you need to optimize the customer experience.

  1. List Specific Functions: Decide which aspects of customer service you want to outsource. Is it phone support, email support, live chat, social media management, or a combination of these?

  1. Assess Industry-Specific Needs: Determine if your customer support requires specialized knowledge, such as technical support for IT products, SaaS software and software support or multilingual support for a global customer base. List your specific needs to check when interviewing future providers.

  1. Hours of Operation: What level of support do you need? Options include 24/7 support, business hours only, or after-hours support.

  1. Quality and Responsiveness: Decide the quality benchmarks and response times you expect from the outsourcing partner (We’ll talk later in this article about important KPIs to track).

  1. Cost Analysis: Establish a budget based on your business’s financial capabilities and the expected ROI from outsourcing. Understand different  outsourcing pricing models (per-hour, per-contact, or hybrid models). Calculate potential outsourcing customer service cost and compare quotes from different providers. Consider factors like hidden costs, setup fees, and payment terms.

Note❗Most customer support providers don’t provide explicit pricing on pricing pages since it will depend on every business's specific needs. So you need to contact the company directly to get the estimated pricing for your cooperation.

  1. Create Your List With Necessary Criteria: Use the suggested criteria in previous section and customize them based on your specific expectations for customer service outsourcing process.

The most important criteria to consider are the minimum performance metrics, cost-friendly policies, transparency and regularity in reporting, compliance with relevant data protection laws and industry-specific regulations, capacity to adapt to your company’s growth, and seamless integration.


Also, we recommend doing benchmarking exercises to get inspired by the best customer service examples and adapt their strategies to your needs.

Do comparison analysis to find the right fit

Now, it’s time to launch the customer service outsourcing process and choose a partner that matches your organization’s values and goals.


We recommend creating a Google Sheets document to record all the information about potential partners and then choosing based on the comparison. 

It can be something like this:

Google Sheet Screenshot With Comparison Analysis Customer Support Agencies
  1. Compile a list of customer support outsourcing providers you consider.
  2. Learn about their outsourcing pricing model by contacting directly.
  3. Count the expected cost of outsourcing customer service.

Research their reputation, experience, and client testimonials to get successful outsourcing examples.

Customer Support Outsourcing Testimonials

  1. Check for industry-specific expertise and compliance with regulations (if applicable).
  2. Ask for detailed information about how they comply with regulations.
  3. Check their current tech infrastructure, the tools they use to manage workloads, and different projects.

Once you have all your potential partners gathered in one place, it’s easier to make a decision.

Ensure you have a comprehensive outsourcing contract

Ensuring clear and comprehensive outsourcing contracts is vital for a successful partnership. This contract sets the foundation for expectations, responsibilities, and how issues will be managed. For sure, we’re not legal experts, and you should consult here with legal counsel.

But based on our experience as an outsourcing company, we can recommend paying particular attention to a non-disclosure agreement (especially if sensitive information will be shared), a precisely outlined scope of work, dispute resolution and termination procedures, a detailed pricing structure and schedule, the liabilities of each party and any indemnification provisions.

Transition the workload and organize onboarding

After completing all previous stages and having a safe and sound outsourcing contract at hand, you are ready for the duty transition.

Success starts with a structured approach to transitioning workloads that ensures minimal disruption to your customer service operations and sets a solid foundation for your partnership with the outsourcing provider.

  • Data and Knowledge Transfer: Share essential information with your outsourcing partner, including FAQs, detailed product knowledge, and relevant customer data. If you’re a SaaS company, it makes sense to do a demo to give a detailed review of your product. At this step, also prioritize discussions about data security protocols to safeguard sensitive information.

  • Training and Orientation: Organize comprehensive training sessions for the outsourced team, focusing on your brand’s voice, values, and customer service standards. Continuously monitor their progress and provide feedback to ensure alignment with your company's approach to customer support.

  • Develop a Detailed Transition Plan: Together with your outsourcing partner, create a transition plan and outline tasks, responsibilities, and timelines. The complexity of this plan will depend on your specific needs, whether it's setting up a new call center or transitioning from a multi-location, 24x7 operation. Key aspects of the plan should cover necessary system integrations, internal test plan for all call scenarios, phased implementation, and personnel management.

Establish performance review system to track KPIs

Establishing an effective customer service data analytics and tracking system for your outsourced customer service team is essential to ensuring high-quality service. Here’s how you can approach it:

Most important KPIs to include in customer support are response time, resolution rate, customer satisfaction scores, call abandonment rate, and first contact resolution. Depending on your business type and customer needs, you might also consider industry-specific KPIs or unique metrics that reflect your service standards.

To manage KPIs effectively, also consider:

  • Establishing and communicating clear benchmark performance levels for each KPI.
  • Implementing robust technology to monitor and report on these KPIs (preferably with real-time data access and comprehensive analytics capabilities).
  • Implementing quality assurance measures such as call monitoring, customer feedback collection, and periodic audits to ensure consistent service quality.
  • Holding regular meetings with your outsourcing partner to review performance. 
  • Being open to revisiting and adjusting KPIs as your business needs evolve or as you gain more insights into what drives customer satisfaction.

 

By establishing clear KPIs, regularly reviewing performance, and maintaining an ongoing dialogue with your outsourcing partner, you can ensure that your outsourced customer service team aligns with your business objectives and consistently delivers high-quality service. 

Tracking all these KPIs may sound overwhelming. If you want a shorter, essential piece of advice, here it is: always focus on customer satisfaction. Keep it as a central goal. Use the insights gained from feedback and call evaluations to improve the customer experience.

Prioritize Transparency

Prioritizing transparency in your partnership with an outsourced call center is crucial for maintaining trust and ensuring quality service without the need for constant oversight. That’s why this point deserved to be chosen as a separate step.

Establish clear and open lines of communication between your business and the outsourcing partner. Regular check-ups, updates, and discussions about ongoing operations should be standard.

Ensure that you have direct access to monitoring tools and dashboards. This enables you to independently review call quality, response times, and other relevant metrics whenever needed.

From the outset, clearly communicate your expectations regarding transparency and the level of quality you expect in customer interactions. Foster a collaborative relationship where feedback is welcomed and acted upon. This encourages both sides to maintain high standards and be open about their operations.

Collaborate and calibrate regularly

Collaboration and regular calibration are key to a successful long-term partnership with an outsourced call center. Here's how to effectively engage in this collaborative process:

  • Weekly Meetings: Schedule weekly or bi-weekly sessions to review and listen to recorded or live calls, or review customer support chats. This helps in understanding the quality of service being provided and ensures that both your team and the outsourced partner are aligned.
  • Goal Alignment: Regularly discuss and reaffirm the goals of your customer service operations. This ensures that both parties are clear about the objectives and expectations.
  • Actionable Insights: Use the feedback to identify areas of strength and areas needing improvement. Share these insights with your call center partner for mutual understanding and action.
  • Strategy Refinement: Based on the feedback and data collected, continuously refine and adapt your outsourcing strategy. This could involve adjusting processes, training, or even KPIs.
  • The power of small steps: Treat the collaboration as an iterative process, where continuous customer experience optimization is the goal. Be open to making small, regular adjustments instead of waiting for larger, less frequent changes.
  • Shared Learning: Encourage a culture of shared learning where both parties can benefit from each other's experiences and expertise.

By regularly collaborating and calibrating with your outsourced call center partner, you ensure that your customer service operations remain effective, efficient, and aligned with your business objectives.  

❗ Remember to discuss with your partner and adjust regularly outsourcing customer service costs as business growth and duties increase. It will contribute to both external and internal motivation.

Bottom Line: It All Depends on The Dedication of Both Sides

Hope that now you understand the tricky nuances of the customer service outsourcing process and how to walk through them with confidence.

Remember that most of this article's points apply to both parts. You employ an outsourcing partner to simplify customer service, reduce your workload, and deliver results for your money. So, in theory, a dedicated outsourcing partner will be pleased to take on at least half of these activities and initiate various improvements to optimize the customer experience.

At EverHelp, we train our representatives on customer support regularly. We are pleased to consult with customers on customer support strategies, provide tech solutions to track KPIs, and pledge transparency, quality, and alignment with your business's beliefs and goals. 

For organizations outsourcing customer support, our expertise in building strong and successful customer service operations and our track record of exceeding partner expectations make us a great choice. Contact EverHelp today to see how we can improve your customer support and grow your business (while helping you follow every step in this article).

 

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