There’s absolutely no doubt that customer support has established itself as one of the most vital considerations in business.
In the pre-internet days, if someone had a bad experience, they’d tell their friends. Now, thanks to Twitter and other social networks, plus review sites, they’ll tell the whole world. Whether it’s to avoid bad reviews and negative feedback, or an honest effort to do the best for everyone that interacts with your business, the customer has to come first.
Why Great Customer Service is Important
You almost certainly appreciate the importance of helping customers. Indeed, you’ve probably experienced less than ideal service yourself. Nevertheless, there are multiple reasons to prioritize it, and they all make sense, even if it requires an investment.
Increased Customer Loyalty
It’s cheaper to keep an existing customer than to find a new one, and providing excellent support throughout is one of the best ways to do precisely that. It could be more valuable than you think, too – repeat customers spend an average of 67% more than new ones because they know and trust you based on their previous experiences.
Customer Demands Always Increase
Some companies are so dominant that customers keep on coming back. However, the chances are that you don’t quite have Amazon’s market penetration. Even if you’re a small company and even working alone, customers aren’t interested in the specifics. They know the power they wield when it comes to reviews and social posts, and over 50% of prospects admit that their expectations now are higher than they were even just a year ago.
In-House Customer Support – The Pros and Cons
If you have a large team or the budget to create a new one, then you might consider keeping all your customer support in-house. They can replace or complement the standard help center and FAQs on your website and represent your company as someone with a stake in its success.
- Excellent knowledge of products and systems, as they’re immersed in them every day
- Immediate logging and availability of feedback
- Complete control over how and when your support team interacts with customers
- It can become expensive to host in-house employees, especially if you don’t receive enough inquiries to keep them busy all the time
- Additional expenses if you plan to over 24-hour support, such as keeping the office open and systems active overnight
- Scalability can become an issue, especially for smaller companies, as it’s difficult to assign a financial value to each employee
Outsourced Customer Support – The Pros and Cons
Outsourcing your customer support function can result in numerous benefits, especially if you’re not at a level to fill out an entire internal team at this point.
- It can be more cost-effective, as you only need to pay for the staff you need at any given time, and they can split their time between multiple companies
- Less time spent on recruitment as agencies and recruiters will have trained staff on hand at all times, making this a far more easily scalable solution
- Access to tools and processes used by the agency you use, saving on the initial investment
- Representatives of your company don’t have the same stake in your success as full employees
- Training can be difficult and time-consuming, especially if you go with an overseas option
- Potential data security risks, as you need to make at least some customer information available to a third party
Choosing Between the Two
On the surface, outsourced customer support seems to lend itself best to smaller companies that don’t have the resources to put together an internal team. However, it also speeds up the process, which can help massively given that you need customer support from the moment you have customers.
Conversely, employed support team members might be more expensive, but they’re also more valuable. Whether you’re office-based or moved to remote work, they spend their time with your products and services than anyone else. In addition, they receive internal emails and might even get involved in the design process.
If there’s something they don’t know, they have a direct line to someone who does. That can differ from outsourced employees, primarily if they’re covering hours outside your normal ones.
So, the primary consideration will often come down to price. If you can afford to build out an internal team and have the time to do so before the orders start rolling in, it makes a lot of sense to do precisely that. However, remember the statement from earlier – you need customer support as soon as you have customers.
If it’s just a trickle, you might even be able to handle inquiries yourself. After all, nobody knows more about your products and services than you do. With that said, word spreads fast when people have had a pleasant experience, just as you might hope. Orders might increase rapidly, and you need the personnel to ensure everyone has a great experience.
Whether a stopgap or a cost-effective long-term solution, outsourcing can represent the ideal solution. There are many different things you can outsource early on, all with growth in mind. For some businesses, excellent support is essential enough to bring inside, but there’s a point where anything is better than nothing.
Which way you decide to take things is mainly down to how you want to present your business and whether you’re providing support out of duty or as a critical part of the sales process and business growth.