The stakes are high when it comes to customer service. Deliver a positive experience, and 69% of Americans will recommend you; a poor one will send 89% somewhere else.
If these interactions are so important, why do so many companies get customer service wrong?
I’m talking about outsourcing. When you call a 1-800 number these days, it’s no surprise to reach someone in a far-flung country. Apple outsources; so does Disney and Microsoft. In fact, over 50% of companies in the customer service industry take a portion of the job abroad – it’s just how modern business works.
I want it to stop.
Phone booths at Junktion headquarters in Vancouver. Photo by Katie Diane Photography.
When you call 1-800-GOT-JUNK? – or any of our companies for that matter – you’ll get an in-house rep. I think the local, personalized touch has made all the difference to our success. Outsourcing might save you money in the short-term, but delegating customer service can ultimately hurt your brand.
It’s All About People
Whether you sell shoes, software or services, you’re really in the people business. Keeping customers happy and making sure they’re heard is a pillar of every strong company.
Passing that job onto someone else can sabotage loyalty and repeat business. Yes – outsourcing your call center to another country will save you a few bucks, but it can come at the cost of customer trust and confidence. And this is inextricably linked to your bottom line: studies show that businesses that outsource their customer support see a direct drop in their market capitalization.
Keeping your call center in-house sends a message to your customers and your team that service is something you take seriously. Zappos is a shoe company, but really, its reputation rides on the shoulders of their signature WOW service. They’re known for going above and beyond, like the time a Zappos rep stayed on the phone with a customer for 10 hours. Dedication like that just isn’t going to happen from a subcontractor.
Insider Knowledge Is An Advantage
The average outsourced call rep gets just a few weeks of training – and sometimes it shows. Because outsourcing firms have higher staff turnover than in-house call centers, it’s hard for institutional memory and expertise to grow.
No matter how much you train someone, they’re going to miss out on things that can’t be learned from a manual. This goes for everything from water-cooler gossip to hands-on experience with products and services. For example, we send every customer service support employee to do a shift hauling junk, moving, or working alongside theWOW 1 DAY PAINTING team. They join our daily huddle, a meeting with the whole company, so they know what’s going on. They’re connected to who we are and what we do because they’re physically in the office, and that engagement trickles down to their calls.
You Can’t Fake Culture
At one point, we did outsource our customer service to a company in Atlantic Canada that seemed the best possible match for us. They were enthusiastic, even painting their office our signature 1-800-GOT-JUNK? blue and sending us pics of the team wearing our silly promotional wigs. But after a few months, we had to bring the call center back in-house. Why? Even with the best of intentions, you just can’t replicate your company culture from afar – and customers pick up on that.
What do I mean by culture? It’s the unique spirit and mission of a company that only comes from someone who has lived and breathed it. It’s the dedication of someone who feels ownership and pride in the business. It’s the enthusiasm and personality that customers love and come back for. None of that spirit can be effectively outsourced, no matter how good the call script or how thorough the training.
I’m a realist. I understand that outsourcing can be a key money-saving move. But if you absolutely must outsource for budgetary reasons, consider doing so with another, less foundational part of your business. Skimping on customer service is the worst thing you can do. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you’re selling or what service you’re offering: it’s all about the people.
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