When you contract any part of your business out to another company, you’re outsourcing. Companies will often outsource tasks like support, payroll processing, and IT to other countries to save money on labor costs, but outsourcing can happen domestically, too.
Some companies outsource simply because they don’t have the resources to handle a specific task without creating a new department and making several hires.
Outsourcing isn’t to be confused with offshoring, which is when work is done in another country but remains part of the business.
Many companies outsourced their support from the mid-1990s and on, but slowly, more are seeing the benefit to bringing their service back in-house.
There are some specific reasons why outsourcing tends to fail (this blog post on outsourcing customer service will walk you through an alternative to outsourcing):
Customer feedback can be a goldmine for product and marketing teams. But when customer support is outsourced, the two-way communication between support and the rest of the business is broken.
The support team is getting instructions from you, but they’re not sending any feedback back to you. This means that not only do you have very little knowledge of the operations that are going on in the support team, but you also have no way of knowing what your customers are saying to your support team about your product or service.
If your support team isn’t using the same tools as the rest of the business this means it’s difficult to use the same tags, adhere to the same service level agreements (SLAs) and generate the same reports.
This makes it much more difficult to measure the performance of the team. Metrics allow you to align the success of the outsourced team with your business. If your support team isn’t contributing to business goals, and their compensation and renewed contract isn’t in line with your goals, you won’t succeed.
For instance, if their only metric is service level agreements, the quality won’t be in line with an in-house team. If the outsourced team isn’t measured on customer feedback, this means they won’t be sending feedback to you at all.
One of the most effective ways to have one of the best customer service teams is by creating a work environment where the employees know the bigger picture they are working towards. But you can only do this through onboarding correctly, and that means treating them like employees.
It’s better to think of outsourced customer support as more of a partnership. It’s important to keep in mind you’re sourcing a long-term professional relationship and you need to choose carefully who you partner with.
Outsourcing poorly would mean you lose that close contact with your support center and that alignment in achieving your business goals.