Learn how our Managed Operations model provides the perfect middle ground between outsourcing and incorporating.

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March 2018 | Outsourcing Blog | BPO Industry Updates and Articles

With a limited number of in-house employees with each having their respective tasks, startups can greatly benefit from outsourcing some of their business processes, including customer service. Not only will outsourcing save you on costs and resources, it also frees your in-house team from having to multitask and allows them to focus on their actual jobs, therefore improving your startup's operations. Additionally, outsourcing also gives you access to manpower and resources that specialize in the outsourced part of your business.

Before you outsource customer service, you should know that different outsourcing services offered by different outsourcing companies are not one-size-fits-all solutions. Customer service is a function that directly interacts with your customers; therefore, you should consider your options carefully to find the right outsourcing company that will handle your customer service tasks.

Here are some things startups should know and understand before outsourcing customer service. These will help you know the best practices in outsourcing customer service.

What Your Customers Need

Identifying the kind of service your customers need and find lacking in your current customer service efforts will help you identify what you need to outsource. Are you able to provide 24/7 real-time customer support? Would your customers benefit from 24/7 support? Outsourcing companies offer customer support services at any time you require. Outsourcing companies can build teams of customer service agents on day, night, and graveyard shifts to ensure your customers receive real-time support at any time.

Observe and take your customers’ feedback seriously to help you identify the right customer service outsourcing option for you, or if you should consider outsourcing customer service at all.

Profitability

Do you receive a large volume calls and inquiries from your customers? Make comparisons on the costs of outsourcing customer service versus having an in-house customer service team. Consider how long the set-up will take and the costs that come with it – construction, hardware, software, training, compensation, and maintenance. If you are receiving a large number of calls and messages from customers on a daily basis, it may be more efficient and cost-effective to outsource.

How Your Customers Communicate

While it's better to have all channels of communication open, identify the ones you actually need from the ones your customers don't use. From call centers, customer service outsourcing has evolved to offer customer support via different channels. Observe if your customers reach you by calling, by sending a message or posting a comment on your social media pages, by emailing, through chat, or through website orders and queries.

Language is also something you should consider when outsourcing customer service. With English being a universal language, look for an outsourcing partner that can provide you with customer service representatives who have excellent English communication skills. When outsourcing to offshore BPO companies, consider the Philippines for its workers who are known for being professional, hospitable, and are strongly affiliated with Western culture. But aside from English, there are also outsourcing companies that can provide you a team with multi-lingual capabilities.

Add-ons

Many outsourcing companies offer add-on services besides the actual outsourced customer service. When choosing a potential customer service outsourcing partner, compare each candidate’s service features, add-ons, and costs to help you identify where you can make the most out of outsourcing customer service and improve your ROI. Add-ons can include analytics, call recordings, and transcription.

Canvass the prices and see if it is better to acquire the features from one outsourcing provider or from multiple vendors. Also, consider what you only need. A package deal may seem appealing but consider first if your startup really needs all the services in the package.

Training and Onboarding

One measure of the effectiveness of your outsourced customer service team is how well they know your business, brand, and products or services. Choose an outsourcing partner that is flexible to absorb all the knowledge and skills required for upholding your business. Look at the outsourcing company's training and onboarding processes, as well as the resources (hardware, software, communication technologies) they have. This is important, especially for startups who require a team to learn a lot of technical knowledge. Don’t be in a rush to outsource and compare and consider your options carefully.


If you're looking to outsource your customer support and you are not sure whether it will be beneficial for your business, looking at the pros and cons might help you decide.

Pros of Outsourcing Customer Support

Cost-effective
Having your in-house staff to handle customer support can be expensive and counterproductive. They could have been spending their time on core business tasks, but instead, they are stuck in solving customer issues. This can affect your business' profitability. Building your own in-house customer support department can also be expensive. The cost-effective solution to this is to have an offshore managed operations.

Through outsourcing, you get access to a pool of talent with the right customer support expertise. Outsourcing to offshore BPO firms in countries with lower labor costs can save you money. Having your own operations in the Philippines would mean reducing 60-80% operational expenses in salaries and at least 50% in office rental and overhead costs.

Immediate Customer Support
Handling customer support on your own cannot assure that you will be able to attend to each query immediately. Considering you have other things to focus on, you may not be able to prioritize getting back to customer issues, which may affect the overall customer experience.

Unlike building your own customer service department, an outsourced customer service operation is much quicker to establish. Your chosen provider will already have the infrastructure, people, and processes in place to get you up and running in no time.

Scalable
As your company grows and increases its customer base, your customer support also needs to be more productive. Whether you are expanding your contact center company or forming a customer support department for your business, outsourcing is a scalable solution that saves you from the hassle of setting up and spending more money for additional assets and office space. Outsourcing can help your business grow faster. And when you need to scale down, having an outsourcing partner also makes downsizing easier.

Monitored Performance
Contact centers have the right tools and resources to ensure the effectiveness of its customer support agents and its services. They have KPIs and analytics in place to measure employee performance and monitor activities. With existing processes ready to be integrated with your operations, you don't have to reinvent the wheel and start from scratch. You are assured that your outsourced customer service team is well-facilitated, giving you a peace of mind and allowing you to allocate more time and money on core business activities.

Cons of Outsourcing Customer Support

Language and Cultural Barriers
Some businesses are hesitant to outsource their customer support to offshore companies as they fear that offshore customer support representatives may lack the fluency and cultural knowledge to communicate effectively with your customers. This concern can be easily avoided by sending clear and specific requirements. When outsourcing your customer support, remember to include in your requirements that you would need someone who can speak a certain language fluently or is multi-lingual and has a neutral accent.

Choose an outsourcing partner that has language and communication skills exams. Also, choose a partner that gives you control of the screening process and allows you to conduct additional processes, such as accent training.

Many foreign businesses outsource to the Philippines for the Filipinos' familiarity with Western culture and proficiency in the English language.

Detachment
Another concern among clients is that customer support agents located in offshore contact centers may tend to be detached or unfamiliar with their company culture and values. This can affect the level of commitment and service they provide to customers. However, a good outsourcing company will always make sure that the service level is always in line with your company standards and has policies in place that reflect your company’s culture and values. Choose an outsourcing provider where you can be directly involved in operations and heavily engaged with the employees.

Managed Operations vs. Traditional Outsourcing

At MicroSourcing, we follow the managed operations model. It is different from traditional outsourcing in a way that the managed operations model gives you full control of your offshore operations with us. It's having the best of both worlds of outsourcing and incorporating. With this model, you are partnering with us to provide you with facilities, assets, and HR and recruitment, among many other services, while you keep full control of the operations. This way, you are involved in hiring the best customer support agents and you get to implement your own systems and policies.

Conclusion

Outsourcing customer support does come with a few risks, which can easily be mitigated by making sure to give your outsourced operation the time and effort it requires to make it an integral part of your business. The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, which is one of the reasons why the customer service outsourcing industry in the Philippines remains strong.

With the managed operations model, you can ensure that your outsourced team is being effectively managed both by you and by us. Being directly involved with your offshore customer support team allows both parties to keep track of activities and also helps you identify the team’s strengths and areas for improvement.


Whether you have a B2B or B2C business, customer service is an important part of your business. It drives customer retention and loyalty, as well as profitability. No matter how minor, customer service mistakes should be taken seriously and addressed immediately. A mistake may not be impactful at first, but if it persists, it could be a reason for your customer to refuse to renew with your company and switch to a competitor instead.

Customer service mistakes

To keep your customers happy and loyal, be aware of the customer service mistakes that you didn't know affect your business.

  1. Complicated Processes
    If it requires customers to put a lot of effort to do business with you. It will be most likely that they will eventually get exasperated and find a better service provider. Even if you have the best products or offer competitive rates, the hassle of the process will be a deal breaker.

    How to Avoid: Review the processes that your customers have to go through to acquire your products or services, from the registration and communication up to requests for returns/exchanges and warranties. Review previous customer feedback to learn about your customer's experience. Look for the obstacles and take action to make it better. Is it poor communication? Difficult website navigation? If the registration or purchasing process itself cannot be simplified, then make sure to set customer expectations early and to manage them well by communicating with them better.

  2. Poor or Inconsistent Overall Customer Experience
    Providing excellent customer service does not end with delivering high-quality products or services. There are many other things that make up the customers' overall experience. Sure, you were able to satisfy their need; but if the service was slow or the customer service representative was rude, it will result in a negative experience for them.

    How to Avoid: Establish an organizational culture that prioritizes providing excellent, proactive customer experience that goes beyond your core product or service. Make sure that every little detail that involves your customers is well taken care of.
  3. No Multiple Service Channels
    Directing potential customers to your contact form or online store for the initial communication or purchase is understandable, but once they need to follow up, you must be able to communicate with them through different channels. There will be customer concerns that are more effectively addressed through the phone, and forcing them to contact you via chat or email only won't suffice. This also involves accessibility. You must be able to cater to all of your customers, especially those with certain difficulties with hearing or reading.

    How to Avoid: Offer multiple channels where customers can reach you through different options that they're most comfortable with. Have customer service representatives ready to answer calls, chats, and emails. Many customers also like to reach out through your social media channels – by posting on your feed, leaving a comment, or sending you a private message.
  4. Automating Everything
    Having parts of your business processes automated can be cost-effective and produce a faster turnaround. However, what makes a great customer service interaction is the empathy and personalization that an actual human interaction provides. Many customers still prefer to have the option to talk to a real person, especially for complex issues.

    How to Avoid: In addition to having chatbots and answering machines, employ contact center agents to answer calls and messages and provide personalized solutions in real time.

  5. Setting Unrealistic Expectations
    Customers want solutions that are accurate and efficient, and they want it now. However, there are just things that cannot be realistically delivered quickly, or not in an ideal way. But when they call your customer service representatives, there is always a script to follow and not all information will be available, resulting in escalations and an irate customer.

    How to Avoid: Make sure that your customer representatives actually listen to your customers and that they have access to the right information. Set realistic expectations and not over-promise then under-deliver.

Handling customer concerns may tend to be delayed or neglected when you are focused on the core aspects of your business. To make sure providing an excellent customer service experience stays a priority, you can outsource a team of customer service representatives or contact center agents to focus on providing undivided attention to your customers and giving them realistic and effective solutions. Be proactive and avoid customer service mistakes, or fix them immediately as they happen. Don't wait until your customers choose to switch providers or give you a bad review.