Posted on Fri, Jun 5, 2015 @ 08:22 PM by Carlos Lahrssen
There was a time, back in the '90s and early 2000s, when outsourcing was all the rage. Companies decided they could cut costs by outsourcing some of their operations - most notably, call centers - to other companies (some in other countries) and expect the same level of performance.
It turned out that while they saved money, the level of service went down significantly. And from the customer's point of view, it wasn't good. It wasn't representative of the image the company was trying to portray. Because of this, some companies have pulled their call centers back in-house. There are quite a few aspects of outsourcing a call center that can be complicated and cause distress for any company.
VulnerabilityWhen a company outsources its call center, it loses control over the impact that those conversations have on its clients. The business doesn't have any control over those people who are answering or making calls.
People will say the resolution to this is to create scripts, processes, training, etc., so that anything can be handled. The flip side is actually true. Those scripts don't allow for in-the-moment decision-making and oftentimes make the customer feel like they are not being heard. Moreover, these scripts and processes don't make up for the lack of institutional knowledge the outsourced staff possesses. Training those people can't take the place of being part of a company culture.
Customer CareWhen a company has its own internal customer support, those employees understand the mission and the company culture; they are constantly involved with other departments and aspects of the company. They are part of the business's fabric. When someone calls in, in-house call center representatives really know what matters to customers, and how customers matter to the company. They can communicate this clearly as part of the organization.
The same thing applies if they are calling out in order to contact a customer. As representatives of the company they work for, they have in-depth knowledge of the company, the product, the service, and the customer base. They are so involved with the company that they can speak confidently.
An internal call center allows for quicker problem resolution. The employees aren't just following a script; they can be empowered to problem-solve and decision-make. This can't really be done with an outsourced call center because they don't have enough knowledge and connection to the company to make the right decisions.
LoyaltyWhen customers call in and end up talking to someone from another country or someone who's following a script, they feel a disconnect. The customers don't feel they can have the conversation they want to have. Their experience will, in most cases, miss the mark and won't be as great as it could/should be. The customers become less loyal to the company because they feel like the company isn't being loyal to them. It's likely they'll be thinking, "If you really cared about me, you'd spend the money to make sure the company reps I deal with really knew the company and the culture, so they could really help me with whatever I'm dealing with."
Robert Burton's saying, "Penny wise or pound foolish," applies here. You may be saving money up front, but you may be losing money through clients dropping your services, fewer new clients, and poor reputation management.
Cheryl Krueger of Cheryl & Company shared a story about her call center experience when she spoke at the COSE Thinkspot event. At one point in the company's history, they outsourced their call center to a company in Connecticut. When the call center was in-house, the average sale was about $140. When they outsourced that function, the average sale went down to around $80. That's a significant decrease in revenue.
When a company looks at their long-term goals, they are wise to keep the call center in-house and invest in their people. Company leadership should determine what they hope to accomplish through their call center and then set out to make sure they have created the right platform to achieve those goals. Empower the call center staff and provide them with the tools and resources they need. The long-term results will be well worth the effort.
Diane Helbig is an internationally recognized business and leadership development coach, author of Lemonade Stand Selling and Expert Insights, and the host of Accelerate Your Business Growth radio show. Diane is a certified, professional coach, and president of Seize This Day Coaching.
Carlos Lahrssen is president of Nexogy.
Topics: call center