Customer support is one of the subtler components of a smoothly performing business. Regardless of whether its presence is primarily onsite or online, this area extends to delivering the utmost quality customers expect.
While robust customer support can come from its in-house staff, outsourced teams add more to the quality that businesses aim for when cultivating a culture of diversity and hospitality to their customers.
Depending on its structure, applying either in-house or outsourced teams are essential to business growth. Thus, companies must regard customer support with a strategic lens by being aware of the pros and cons of both in-house talent and outsourced services.
If businesses have to deal with choosing between in-house or outsourced support, it is best to consider the several advantages and disadvantages of both to know which one fits them better.
In-house Support Teams
In-house support advantages
Continuous communication and feedback: Expect that communication will be free-flowing with an in-house team since there is already an established network of hierarchies and colleagues work in close proximity. Also, workers within an organization have a system of communication to optimize their workflow. Thus, queries can be handled immediately.
Established knowledge of company functions: Unlike outsourced teams, in-house talents have better knowledge about their company’s operations and products and services. With homegrown workers being adept at their business functions, it is easier to conduct customer support and improve on it.
Security: It is a given that in-house customer support, along with other IT-reliant roles, has stronger security measures because there is no third-party involvement that can make confidential customer data susceptible to outside sources.
Also, companies tend to trust their in-house staff more when it comes to tasks involving confidential or sensitive information. After all, there’s less risk in communicating the information when it is done just within the organization.
Total quality control: Employees need to share the vision of the company. They need to be the face of the business that will also be held accountable should it fall short of its promises to the clients. When employees do this, they will have a stronghold on the quality control of products and services and how customer support handles concerns and inquiries.
In-house support disadvantages
Lack of diverse talent: While every employee has his/her specialty, it can be challenging if your staff does not have diverse talents or unique expertise. Customer support requires an array of specialties, from software engineering to customer care.
If your team does not have that ample skill set, it would be challenging to help your clients. You may end up having to train in-house teams just so they can do their jobs properly, which takes time and costs a lot.
Long-term costs: Operating robust customer care requires a budget that goes to the software, maintenance, and compensation for workers. If customer support is an essential component of your business, then expect long-term costs. Companies need to plan their operating costs wisely to accommodate all of these considerations.
Prolonged training: As mentioned, if your teams may require additional skills for their roles, expect prolonged time for either training them or finding the right talents for your needs. Furthermore, conflicts on scheduling and finding the right professionals to become trainers for your members can be exhausting. Either way, all in all, this will not only take a lot of time but also add up to your expenses.
Scheduling the team: Issuing working hours for support teams will be tricky. Regardless of how big the team is, there is a challenge to ensure that a customer support team and IT personnel are assigned for every operating hour. After all, you’re trying to help customers who may not share the same time zone as you do. Hence, your human resources department may then have to recruit more hires to accommodate this.
Varying expectations from employees: Employees have their own expectations during their respective tenures with a business. May it be a promotion or incentive, they expect employers to give back to them beyond salary, and if they don’t, there will be a lack of motivation that can lead to employees leaving.
Outsourced Support Teams
Outsourced teams advantages
Concentration on core activities: Businesses rely on outsourcing services mainly for skills and expertise. Thus, they can designate some activities and processes unto these outsourced teams. This is to let enterprises place their focus on their core activities to help expand their company.
Controlled expenses: With outsourced services, businesses reduce their operational costs from tasks that require broader expertise since they can designate those tasks to a third party. Reduce the recruitment and training costs and rely on more affordable services.
On another note, businesses also would save a lot from buying the best equipment and applications on the market that are needed to enforce efficient business processes. Outsourced teams would have invested on their own tools and systems already.
Equal risk distribution: With an outsourced team working on your customer support aside from in-house, heavier tasks can be managed efficiently and on time, and risks can be shared evenly. This way, both parties are accountable for the company’s end result and success.
Simplified project management: When hiring outsourced teams, business owners and in-house managers do not need to oversee a complete team since team leaders report them. Such is helpful to avoid overlapping tasks.
Specialized expertise: For projects that require broader expertise, it is ideal to hire outsourced teams for their targeted disciplines. Since many of these professionals come from outsourcing worldwide, this also brings cultural diversity front and center. Such diversity can help your campaigns and projects stand out as you get a unique set of perspectives.
Outsourced teams disadvantages
Miscommunication: It takes discipline to handle one or more teams, regardless if they are outsourced or not. It’s easier to miscommunicate and not be aligned with your team if they are out of your sight most of the time or situated far from your location. Your company and chosen outsourcing partner must be aligned when it comes to task distribution, deadlines, and other goals to achieve them. Moreover, a single-line stream of communication must be stabilized consistently to avoid mishaps.
Lapses on the work schedule and deliverables: When businesses in Europe or the U.S. outsource to regions like Asia for customer support, expect that the outsourced team will have to adapt to your workflow. And if they fail to do so, deliverables will be missed.
Moral quandaries: Speaking of differences, challenges can arise if cultural and moral differences affect the rapport of the teams. From language barriers to cultural reputations, businesses should be aware of their outsourced teams’ backgrounds before enlisting them.
Security risks: Besides work input, one of the most valuable assets exchanged between client and outsourcing provider is information. Sharing of confidential data, especially with a third party, makes that data susceptible to security risks.
Unforeseen financial liabilities: While enlisting outsourced teams can be inexpensive, businesses can still be asked to pay for hidden costs that come with their outsourced personnel’s operational activities. Keep in mind that not all outsourced services are cheap.
Points to Remember
Having both in-house and outsourced teams ensures that a business can rely on a diverse array of talent and be assured of growth in quality. But it takes careful consideration of their unique skills to make them both equally beneficial to your business.
Before considering hiring outsourced teams, make sure your in-house teams are well-trained and well-utilized for their roles and establish the necessary rapport and communication. When it is essential to employ outsourced teams, align them to your business goals and vision before putting them to work alongside your in-house teams.
M. Alan Shapiro is the CEO of Executive Boutique Call Center, an outsource call center and BPO provider. Since 2008, he has been helping his clients’ companies grow by providing them with high quality and reliable outsourcing services from their two offices in Cebu, Philippines. He spends his free time snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking and gardening.