For many years companies have been outsourcing different parts of their business. This isn’t a problem in itself it can even bring value to the company. Some brands outsource their IT department to specialized IT firms for example. They benefit from their expertise and knowledge without having to handle everything in-house. Outsourcing doesn’t always mean lower costs and lower quality. The problem is different with call centers as outsourcing often means offshoring to save money on what is considered a cost center.
Offshore call centers make your customers feel disrespected
Let’s put it this way: whenever you send a customer’s call to an offshore call center they feel like their problem isn’t important enough to be dealt with by your company directly. Your customers know that the only reason you offshore customer service is to save money. It’s like saying to them „you are not really worth our well paid employee’s time, your question is probably not so hard to answer, people with little to no qualifications can do that”. I know that’s a little harsh but that’s how most customers feel and it makes them angry.
There’s a real language problem
UK and US companies have been outsourcing call center jobs to India for a while now and Indian call centers employees usually have a rather good level of english. However rather good isn’t good enough! The last thing customers want is to struggle with basic communication when they are trying to get a problem solved. A lot of US customers will now actually hang up if they hear that they are being transferred offshore or spot a foreign accent when the representative answers. Your customers are not being racists, they are just looking for a quick solution to their problem, they don’t want to struggle. A strong foreign accent will make the communication harder, especially over the phone when voice is the only thing people can rely on. Phone communication can even be challenging between people from the same country.
Lately, India has lost a lot of call centers seats to the Philippines where children grow up hearing and speaking American English. Accent and cultural knowledge matters! Working in a call center as an entry level employees is a far harder job that it seems for non-native speakers. It requires an excellent knowledge of another culture that even most intercultural communication experts don’t fully have.
No one wants to talk to a script
A lot of offshore call centers rely on scripted conversations to make sure their agents have the proper vocabulary and knowledge to answer customers. It it a good practice to have some sort of guidelines to start and end a conversation or deal with difficult customers but a conversation can never be entirely scripted. There is nothing more frustrating than someone giving you irrelevant scripted answers.
Don’t think that reading a script is enjoyable for the employee on the other hand of the phone either. It is unnatural and automatically builds a wall between the two people speaking. It makes employees feel like robots which results in them turning off empathy and emotions, 2 vital aspects of any conversation.
A bad call center experience will destroy your best marketing achievements
Companies promise a lot of things in their marketing campaigns. What about promising and delivering amazing customer service? Ever thought about that?
Customers are fed up with bad service but it had become the norm lately which makes outstanding customer service even more valuable. According to Zendesk, 88% of people have been influenced by an online customer service review when making a buying decision. Online customers want to know that their problems will be taken care of. No one is expecting a product to be absolutely perfect, they are just expecting to be able to call for help if they need to. The best companies actually advertise on customer service and deliver!
People want to talk to your company, not some other company that works for you
Is it so bad to talk with your customers that you need to use a middlemen? When your customer calls you, he has a preconceived idea of what an employee at your company looks like. This idea is not unrealistic, it’s mostly based on what he saw on your website, in your commercials…
Most people have a strong visual imagination that kicks in during conversations, especially the ones where they can’t see the person they are talking to. When it comes to companies, people will have a general picture of what your company’s staff should look like and when you are directing them to an offshore call center you are destroying this image along with their expectations.
Your customer’s mind works quite the same as it would do in a private, personal situation. If they have a problem with someone and decide to talk to them about it, they will want to deal with that person directly. The relationship between customers and your brands works like any other relationship. When they are happy and think you treat them well, they will talk highly of you to other people and will likely want to see you again. When they are unhappy, they will first complain to their friends and might later decide to come to you to deal with the problem „face-to-face”. And what is your brand doing? It’s sending them to someone else, refusing to have a face-to-face meeting to talk directly about their problem. In my world, that’s a hard core break-up. Your brand is cold!
Your customers just want you to stop being so selfish
When a brand decides to offshore their contact center they might think about saving costs, not having to worry about staff turnover, taking advantage of call centers’ expertise… That’s a little selfish don’t you think? Did you ever hear a customer say „God I’m happy this brand knows how to run its call center effectively”.
What are you really doing for your customer when you are outsourcing? 24/7 customer service? shorter waiting time?
The truth is, that’s good but that’s not really what customers consider as essential. The most important thing would be that they reach someone that can help them with their problem effectively. You are not the only one looking for something that’s effective. Your priorities are just a little different and that’s where you need to make compromises. Customer are looking for quality service rather than fast service. In a recent survey by RighNow, 73% or customers interviewed cited „rude staff” as the main criteria for bad customer service experience.
Customers are asking for quality customer service and many companies are actually bringing their call center back home. Customer service isn’t strictly about resolving problems, it also helps connecting with online customers and make sure they appreciate your brand. People are more likely to recommend a brand based on good customer service experience.
What about video chat customer service?
Video chat customer service is obviously harder to outsource as people will see the agent. Companies try to hire offshore agents with neutral accents to hide the fact that they are offshoring, that’s impossible with video. It implies more transparency, you can either choose to offshore and tell your customers about it or employ local staff.
The goal is to provide excellent customer service that would be closer to what people get in a shop to build a loyal following for your brand.
Share your thoughts with us on the matter, do you think offshoring your call center can have advantages for customers? Or do you agree with us?