In which cases is it better to outsource live chat?

outsourcing live chat

When you decide to implement live chat, at a certain point, the question arises whether you’re going to do it all by yourself or whether you will have a specialised company do it for you. Here, we have listed the pros and cons of both strategies for you. Although there are certain companies for whom managing their own live chat is the better option, there will be more (especially smaller) companies for whom outsourcing is preferential. But how do you find out whether it is advisable for you to outsource live chat?

Firstly, it is important to have a clear picture of your current situation and what your reasons are for wanting to implement live chat. It is important to realise that live chat requires the employment of specialised chat operators, because chatting is quite an art, and wholly different from working at a “traditional” helpdesk. In the following scenarios, it would be better to outsource live chat to a specialised company.

If you have to train chat operators

Chatting demands employees with special skillsets. Being a successful chat operator demands skills that differ strongly from those demanded of call-centre employees or helpdesk employees working with email. Chat operators are required to communicate via quick, short text messages. Being able to type fast is important, and the messages must be spelled correctly. Chat operators must also be able to conduct multiple chat sessions simultaneously; up to three at the same time.

Since live chat is a relatively new method of communication in the field of business, there is a considerable chance that your (new) employees will not yet possess these skills, and therefore require training. This requires adequate training that is specifically targeted at chatting and not at customer service in a broader sense. If you are managing your own live chat, you will have to develop effective chat training. Providers of live chat already have this training and can easily train your (new) personnel using their existing programme. You can save yourself the cost and effort of developing such a training yourself by outsourcing live chat.

If you struggle with technical implementations

Many companies struggle with the implementation of live chat in the preliminary phases. This includes the installation, personalisation, testing and execution of the chat software. Although live chat providers often consider this the easiest part of the process, this part can nonetheless be an obstacle for individual companies, making it a good idea to outsource live chat if this is the case.

If you lack the required staff 

Manning a live chat channel can be a problem. Think of staffing when people are on holiday or if someone is absent due to illness, for example, or both at the same time. In such cases, you might not have a back-up, and won’t be able to keep your promise of being available via live chat for your customers. This is because live chat is truly “live” and has the reputation as an immediate solution with short waiting times. For this, you must have personnel on standby. Many companies cannot guarantee this, making outsourcing a sensible decision.

If you want to expand your availability

Many companies are open from nine to five, or something close to that. The same applies to their customer service. But what they often do not (properly) realise is that most of their customers are at work or studying during office hours. Most people simply have more free time in the hours of the evening. Therefore, it’s important for your customer service to be available when offices close at five o’clock.

If you outsource live chat, you no longer need to keep your office open to still provide the live chat service in the evening. This is because the chat operators are in the office of the live chat provider, from where they will be talking to your customers while you’re already on your way home. You won’t need to worry about this.

If you have a limited budget

A live chat provider can find a fitting service for every budget. Are you a small company that’s just starting with live chat? You probably have a limited budget, but also a smaller demand of live chat. This means you can employ fewer people, resulting in lower prices for your company.

At the same time, there is always the risk of having too many or too few operators on standby when offering live chat. Providers can easily adapt to increases and decreases in the number of chats, and if you outsource, you do not need to buy special devices or software, nor do you need to arrange a space for them to work outside of your standard opening hours.

If you don’t have time 

This is quite an obvious reason, but it still needs to be mentioned, because there is a considerable chance that, if your company is starting live chat, your company has recently grown, as a result of which you are required to expand your customer service. You are probably busy enough as it is following this development within your company. If this is the case, it is optimal to delegate as many tasks as possible. A live chat provider knows exactly what needs to be done, thereby saving time, effort and relieving you of unnecessary stress.

If you would like to “try it out”

Often, you won’t know what live chat can do for you until you’ve tried it out. This is the only way to find out what works for you and what doesn’t. Live chat requires an approach tailored to the specific needs of each company, while also requiring interim updating and reconfiguration to achieve its optimal functioning. This is why you never know whether your approach plan will go as expected.

Live chat providers often provide the option of a short contract; for three months, for example. There are no obligations beyond this period. Therefore, if, after three months, you find that there really isn’t much of a desire to chat coming from your customers, you can easily cancel your contract. You are not bound to anything after the contract period has ended, so if live chat isn’t working for you, you are not tied to any unnecessary, long-term costs.

Is there a reason not to outsource live chat?

Certainly, although it may seem as though it is always better to outsource live chat. There are companies, often (very) large companies that prefer to manage their own live chat. Some large national or international companies do not want to lose contact with their customers. This gives them the certainty that their service policy and way of speaking to and dealing with their customers is safeguarded.

These are primarily companies that hold a certain standing in society and have many employees. These companies often also have a rather large customer-service team that can easily be expanded. If you have small or younger company, outsourcing is always the better option.

After reading this article, you should have an idea of whether outsourcing is the right choice for you. Have you already decided to outsource live chat? Read our article about the best way to outsource your customer contact .