For time-crunched business owners today, outsourcing is quickly becoming a viable option –an opportunity to delegate many time-consuming tasks, without having to hire full-time staff.
One task that’s increasingly being outsourced today –is customer service.
While outsourcing customer service is often thought to be the domain of big business and large corporations, increasingly, smaller –and mid-sized companies are starting to find that they can benefit from outsourcing too. One key benefit of outsourcing customer service is the cost. Delegating to a VA is generally a lot more cost effective than enlisting the help of in-person staff. And for customer service – something that doesn’t necessarily need to be handled in-house, outsourcing can be an ideal solution.
But outsourcing customer service is something that needs to be handled with care.
After all, we all know that there are few things worse than an annoying interaction with a customer service rep that just doesn’t seem to “get” what you need, and who continually waffles on about support tickets, surveys, procedures, and upcoming promotions –happy to discuss things unrelated to your call, even as you wait frustrated for an answer. Then there’s the language barrier, outsourcing to a VA who’s in a country where English may not be the first language, and your customers and reps alike could be in for a frustrating time! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8L2cI8brzQ
According to a YouGov survey, 76% of customers said that “just one unpleasant contact center experience was likely to make them take their business elsewhere.” Additionally, a recent Zendesk survey showed that 35% of customers stopped doing business with a company because of a poor customer experience.
Clearly providing good customer service –is paramount.
Fortunately, whether you choose to handle your customer service in-house or outsource it to a VA, there’s a lot that you can do to help ensure that your customers have a good experience with your support team.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some dos and don’ts for outsourcing customer service now.
Customer Service Dos
Do: Outline Your Goals From the Start
Start with your end goals in mind. What do you hope to gain from outsourcing customer support? The ability to provide better service? What about the chance to provide support via chat or phone instead of just email? Maybe you’d like to expand your support coverage? Keep your objectives in mind when outsourcing –along with the results that you’d like to see, then look for a VA who can help you to reach them.
Do: Create Processes
Make sure you create processes for your VA to follow, to help them to successfully resolve customer questions and concerns.
A good problem-solving process should aim to:
- Understand the problem
- Gather the facts: Allow the customer to speak without interrupting them
- Repeat your understanding of the problem to ensure you understand correctly
- Identify the cause: What went wrong?
- Propose solutions: Consider asking the customer for ideas
- Solve the problem
Do: Use Tools to Help You Manage Your Remote Team
There’s a wealth of tools available today that you can use to oversee your projects, and interact with your remote team. From Trello, which is a great project management tool that allows you to create checklists for your team to follow, to Google Drive for file sharing, or even Skype for chat and voice calls. Look for the tools that will help you to create processes, share training documents, and connect with your VA or support team.
Do: Create Talking Points
No one wants to hear a script being read in a monotone over the phone! Reading verbatim from a script is a recipe for annoying your callers. Instead, consider creating some talking points –or an outline for your reps to refer to for information. This will allow them to provide helpful and accurate information, without sounding robotic.
Do: Implement a Chat Feature on Your website
Many customers prefer to chat with a customer service rep, rather than making a phone call. Implementing a chat feature on your website and allowing your VA to use it will reduce frustration –as your customers will be able to use their preferred communication channel. As a bonus, your reps will also be able to handle more than one customer at a time with online chat, helping to reduce wait times.
Do: Consider Implementing a Review System
With a review system, your customers can rate their service experience and tell you exactly what they think of it. This will show you what’s working, what’s not –and what may need a few adjustments. Post-service satisfaction surveys, as these surveys are called, come as a built-in feature with many live chat solutions.
Do: Have Your VA sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement
A non-disclosure agreement will not only protect your company, but your customers and their information as well. Make sure your VA is happy to sign a non-disclosure agreement before you agree to hire them.
Do: Communicate Effectively
Be sure to communicate your goals and expectations to your VA, and fill them in on any important details that they need to do their job. Always encourage them to reach out if they have any questions and try to be available during their first few calls or chat sessions so you can help them to address any issues that arise. Soon your efforts will pay off and your VA will be more than capable of handling customer questions on their own.
Do: Train Your VA to Feel Your Customer’s Pain
Make sure your VA understands the importance of a genuine and empathetic approach in their customer service interactions. A little empathy can go a long way towards helping to calm a frustrated caller. Likewise, encourage them to avoid using clichés. Things like “Your call is important to us” and “Please hold while I transfer you,” can be tremendously frustrating.
Customer Service Don’ts
Now, let’s take a look at some don’ts –things you’ll want to avoid when outsourcing to a VA!
Don’t: Neglect Training
Don’t neglect training! Sure, you’re outsourcing the work of customer service to a VA, but that doesn’t mean that you can skip the entire training process. Be sure to take the time to on-board your VA to ensure that they’re more than able to do their job, and provide scripts as training materials –and that they can refer to during their conversations with customers. You’ll also want to be on hand –available
via Skype, email, or chat, to address any of your VA’s questions or concerns in the beginning. You’ll also want to work to train your VA to think like your customers, and speak to them in everyday language. Finally, consider providing them with ongoing training to keep them up-to-date on product knowledge and to empower them to take initiative when appropriate.
Don’t: Ignore Your Customer Concerns
One key risk when outsourcing customer service is that the customer questions or concerns –once addressed, will then be lost forever. This is unfortunate, though, since customer questions can prove to be a goldmine when it comes to seeing what your customers think about your products –and invaluable when it comes to your marketing efforts! Consider implementing a system that requires your VA to document customer concerns or queries, as they address them. Then send the information back through to you on a weekly basis. Feeding your customer concerns back through can give you great ideas for blog posts, guides, tutorials, or ads. It can also highlight other important issues that should be addressed.
Don’t: Settle for Less
Remember, customer service reps are your front-line workers. They are the face of your company, and can make or break the chance of a customer coming back again. Don’t settle for less when it comes to outsourcing. Do your research, and find a VA who is more than capable of taking on the role of a professional customer service rep. Find someone that you’re proud to have represent your company.
Don’t: Allow Your VA to Say “I have no idea!”
Your VA won’t have the answer to everything –and that’s ok! But under no circumstances should they come off as incapable or uninformed. A VA who says “I have no idea” will immediately destroy your customer’s opinion of your company and confidence in you. If your VA is unsure of something, they should confidently inform the customer that they’ll be happy to find the answer, and get back in touch with them within an allotted time period.
The VA that you outsource customer service to –in many ways, will be the face of your company to customers who have questions or concerns, so it’s worth spending some time to ensure that the outsourcing process is done right. With a great strategy, clear processes, helpful tools, and the right people on board –you’ll be well on your way to outsourcing successfully! Just remember to check back in regularly with your VA to see how things are going, and regularly strive to offer them the support that they need to do their job –and help keep your customers happy.
Are you thinking of outsourcing your customer service to a VA?