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The do's and don'ts of customer service outsourcing

There are significant benefits to outsourcing.

Whether you're looking to expand your customer experience (CX) with 24/7 customer care, deliver multilingual support for your products and services or get help with back office tasks like finance and accounting, outsourcing is an established lifeline for many businesses. In fact, 65% of successful organizations have outsourcing as part of their business delivery model, according to Deloitte's 2021 Global Shared Services and Outsourcing Survey report.

When it comes to building your brand, boosting loyalty and driving revenue, customer experience is the foundation on which your organization's success is built, and a knowledgeable outsourcing partner can help you deliver those exceptional experiences.

The benefits of CX outsourcing

There's a persistent public perception that brands outsource their customer care to save money and pad their bottom lines. That's not always true. A successful customer experience outsourcing relationship is more than cost reduction.

Many brands first look to outsource to gain agility and speed, support growth and become more efficient. A high-quality partner comes with the experience, expertise and the leading-edge tech needed to make that happen. They also bring knowledge of international markets, along with specialized customer care teams stationed around the globe with a greater perspective on customer experience trends — insights that ultimately make their client's more competitive. In fact, nearly half (47%) of customer experience buyers named "CX benchmarking and best practices" as an essential capability in an IDC Info Snapshot sponsored by TELUS International.

To deliver the kind of high-tech, high-touch customer experience consumers want, brands need access to next-gen technologies such as big data analytics, chatbots and conversational AI. These can be costly investments when done entirely in-house. Teaming up with a partner that comes equipped with these tools — and has the deep digital experience to leverage them properly — can create a more satisfying experience for your customers, while also saving you a lot of headaches.

Outsourcing, when done right, is never a hands-off affair. Rather, it's a relationship that demands attention and care.

The do's and don'ts of CX outsourcing

When outsourcing, business leaders need to keep the following best practices in mind to ensure they maximize their customer experience success.

Do: Choose a partner that can deliver your corporate culture in an outsourced environment

The digital tools behind a superior customer experience are critical to every brand, but it's the people behind those technologies that ultimately drive success.

It's important, therefore, to understand your outsourcing partner's corporate culture. How high are their employee engagement scores? Do they prioritize the employee experience and well-being of their teams? How long is agent tenure? Factors like these can have a major impact on the quality of service you can expect to receive from a CX partner.

At TELUS International, for example, we have a proven formula referred to as the Culture Value Chain — where a strong corporate culture drives employee engagement and retention. Our tenured, engaged employees take ownership of the customer experience from end-to-end, which ultimately leads to superior services and better outcomes for clients and their customers. This is the secret to our ability to replicate, sustain and even enhance our client's brand in an outsourced model.

Don't: Choose your outsourcing partner based on cost alone

Reducing costs is an attractive benefit of CX outsourcing, but your partner selection shouldn't be based on price alone. As with anything else, cheaper doesn't always mean better, so it's wise to get a full understanding of any potential partner's offerings and a sense for how they'll represent your brand.

Research from Ryan Strategic Advisory on behalf of TELUS International shows that for business leaders, an outsourcing partner's ability to scale their brand and meet the language requirements of their customers is far more important than price when it comes to contract renewals. In fact, less than half (41%) of survey respondents indicated competitive price was important in their decision making.

The takeaway? You get what you pay for, and cutting corners in the short term may cost you in the long run.

Do: Research which outsourcing location is best for your brand

There is quite literally a world of options when it comes to choosing an outsourcing destination, and brands need to consider whether an onshore, nearshore or offshore location fits their business best.

Map with push pins and a compass.

Selecting the best outsourcing destination for your business

Discover some of the top outsourcing destinations for consideration and the factors to keep in mind as you make your decision.

For example, if your customer base is primarily English- and Spanish-speaking, an onshore or nearshore location in the United States or Central America, respectively, might be the perfect fit. The U.S. has the second largest population of Spanish speakers in the world, according to the United States Census Bureau, and countries like El Salvador and Guatemala have an outstanding talent pool of well-educated digital IT experts.

If, however, your business is growing fast, an offshore location may be better suited to provide the market scalability you need. The Philippines is one of the largest English-speaking nations in the world and boasts a 96% literacy rate according to the World Bank. Additionally, its service-oriented culture provides phenomenal customer service results. At the same time, India has a highly-trained talent pool, with some researchers estimating that its labor force will increase by as much as 30% within the next decade.

Don't: Leave your partner to operate in a vacuum

Your outsourcing partner should be an extension of your brand, which means consistent, open communication is a must. Ensure your partner is familiar with your business strategy, product or service changes, challenges you're facing and the goals you are setting.

You'll want to set clear expectations when it comes to which customer experience KPIs are most valuable to your business, so you and your partner are on the same page about what constitutes success. Discuss which metrics are a priority for your business, and the results you hope to achieve with your partner.

Do: Embrace digital technology

Finally, your customer service outsourcing strategy should embrace the digital customer experience. Outsourcing partners with high digital aptitude can provide you with access to a toolbox full of technologies like chatbots, robotic process automation (RPA), intelligent FAQs and internal wikis that can enhance the customer experience while also simplifying agents' daily lives.

A survey of technology leaders by TELUS International, in partnership with Pulse, found that executives turn to chatbot technology to improve efficiency (64%), increase customer satisfaction (57%) and save costs (52%). What's more, 74% of technology executives saw an improvement in customer satisfaction scores after introducing a chatbot. This makes having access to cutting-edge digital technologies one of the best ways to reap the benefits of working with a CX service provider.

As you embark on your customer experience outsourcing journey, remember that the partner you choose will be on the frontlines when it comes to interacting with your customers. And how you communicate with your partner and the digital tools you choose to utilize throughout the process will have a significant impact on your brand's CX success for years to come.

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