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Can you afford not to outsource your customer service?

Posted January 3, 2023
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Costs – like windows – are best when they're transparent. No one likes to be left guessing or feeling surprised about the true outlay of their purchasing decisions. Whether you're renting a vehicle, hiring a tradesperson or subscribing to a new streaming service, it's better to know the costs upfront.

Knowing also means being aware of relevant opportunity costs, a term defined by Investopedia as "the potential benefits that an individual, investor or business misses out on when choosing one alternative over another." Choosing to pursue a postgraduate degree instead of entering the workforce involves not just the cost of the education, but the opportunity cost of the income you will forego, as well as the value of extra work experience on your resume, for example.

Opportunity cost is often a hidden cost, which means it tends to be overlooked. That's particularly, and unfortunately, true of brands making critical decisions about their customer experience (CX). When considering the relative costs and merits of CX outsourcing, it's sometimes the case that brands overlook the significant opportunity costs associated with keeping operations entirely in-house.

It's the right time to think twice. The current challenging economic climate is increasing sensitivity around cost for would-be outsourcers and consumers alike. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of goods and services rose 7.1% over the last 12 months in the country. To make informed decisions in these inflationary circumstances, it's important to bring to light the true costs of keeping your customer experience in-house and determine whether you can afford not to outsource your customer support.

The true cost of in-house CX

It's common for scaling brands to contemplate outsourcing aspects of their customer experience at some point. When they're thinking about it, they'll often look closely at the hard costs of hiring, onboarding and attrition, and assess whether they can meet their needs at a lower cost by keeping their operations in-house.

Those who pass up on the opportunity to outsource overlook the following hidden costs of building and maintaining in-house CX:

Inflexibility is expensive

The times are certainly uncertain, and brands that keep their customer experience in-house can struggle with ambiguity.

As demand for your product or service increases, you need to staff up across your organization or risk dips in your most important metrics. And if your success comes suddenly, the hiring and onboarding that's needed to scale can be all-consuming ⁠— wave goodbye to your time, energy and budget. When the chaos of keeping up starts to impact your customers, you risk losing their loyalty: A TELUS International survey found that 60% of consumers said they would rather sit in a traffic jam than have a poor customer experience.

Of course, the pandemic, supply chain shortages and today's economic conditions are all reminders that success can also be fleeting. Scaling up too quickly can have a significant human and financial cost when you need to cut back.

Inflexibility is expensive, but flexibility doesn't have to be. With a proficient outsourcing partner, you'll be able to ramp up as needed without significant investment. By leaning on a partner's expertise and infrastructure, you'll also stand the best chance to maintain your culture and performance standards.

Have you calculated risk?

Like most things in life, risk is best kept in moderation.

When it comes to your customer experience, and your customers' perception of your brand, there is wisdom in taking a controlled approach.

By forging an outsourcing partnership, you dilute your risk. You don't have to invest single-handedly in developing or implementing technology that may or may not have the anticipated return on investment. You also don't have to establish your own offshore contact center, only to make costly mistakes stemming from differing regulations and norms. Instead, you put your trust in your customer experience provider, and you gain the ability to focus on what you do best.

The value of experience

When it comes to experience, time is money.

By choosing to go it alone, you're missing out on the intangible value of an outsourcing provider's experience. Is this the first time your company has experienced an enduring economic downturn? Or the first time you've tried to offer support in another language? The ability to lean on an outsourcing partner's earned expertise means that you don't have to always learn things the hard, or expensive, way.

It's also the case that a strong partner will have cross-vertical experience from supporting clients in industries much different than your own. Such a partner won't have the same blind spots that you do, and will be able to offer up ideas and solutions from the places you'd least expect.

Limiting your access to technology

Creating your own technology isn't easy or cheap; neither is curating your tech stack in a piecemeal fashion.

That's why TELUS International designs, builds and delivers next-generation digital solutions to enhance the customer experience for global and disruptive brands. Through partnership, you not only get access to an array of tech solutions, you also benefit from a team of experts to help you map the right solutions to your needs and budget. Whether you're trying to do more with less by implementing automation and bots, cloud infrastructure or sophisticated self-help solutions, don't underestimate the value of access to tried and tested technology and a team capable of deploying it efficiently.

Technology and innovation go hand in hand. In an article for Execs In The Know, Pete Tapley, vice president of customer experience innovation at TELUS International extolls the value of co-innovation made possible by outsourcing: "Given the fast-paced and competitive business environment, digital solutions are enabling leaders to get an edge on the competition," before adding, "But it's not always possible or even ideal to develop those solutions single-handedly." Tapley goes on to explain that "Working with a CX partner can help to accelerate digital transformation and solve problems more efficiently by bringing unique perspectives and out-of-the-box solutions to the table."

Advantages to outsourcing customer service

Just as there are more costs to in-house customer experience than you may have considered, there are benefits to outsourcing that may have evaded your attention.

Consider these commonly overlooked benefits of outsourcing your customer service:

  • You get more than what you pay for: With a top-quality partner, you'll be able to read between the dotted lines of a contract and see the value-adds for your business. You get access to the provider's expertise and experience, which is an intangible benefit that can be hard to quantify with a dollar value. What's more, beyond what you actually agree to, by forming a trusted partnership, you gain the ability to make game-changing decisions for your CX in the future. If you're not quite ready to implement a full suite of digital tools or go international today, focus on your current objectives and know that the right partner will be able to execute on your long-term goals when you're ready.
  • You get to focus on what you do best: Can you put a price on peace of mind? If managing an in-house operation is taking you away from bettering your product or service to the utmost of your ability, opportunity cost looms large. While you try to balance hiring agents, diving into customer analytics and delivering upon your raison d'etre (French for your reason for being or purpose), your competitors might be moving full steam ahead innovating their offering. Outsourcing your customer experience enables you to maintain your focus and momentum.
  • You open up a world of possibilities: To offer a consistent customer experience to individuals around the globe, you need to deliver support in the languages they speak, at the times they're awake. Establishing that type of infrastructure is difficult for an in-house team, but within reach when you partner with a provider that has a global presence. With 28 countries of operation, 56 CX and IT delivery centers and over 50 CX support languages, TELUS International can help you create the consistent experience your customers expect.

Outpace your competition with outsourcing

Faced with challenging economic conditions, brands are looking for cost-effective ways to scale. In this regard, outsourcing has a number of oft overlooked advantages over in-house operations, and stands out as an intelligent way to enhance your customer experience. Contact our team to explore outsourcing opportunities that work for you.

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