Use six questions to determine whether it would be better to outsource your live chat
For many companies, outsourcing live chat has many advantages and few disadvantages. However, it should be noted that this doesn’t apply to every company. To determine whether outsourcing live chat is a good idea for your company, you need to look at different aspects of your company and the extent and type of the customer service you provide. Whether you choose to outsource it or not, adequately setting up your live chat is always important. Ask yourself the following six questions and you will quickly find out whether outsourcing is the best option for your company.
1 – To what extent is it important to maintain contact with customers myself?
In short, keeping live chat within your own management means keeping everything within your own control. You can handle all incoming chats yourself and are not reliant on a provider who maintains contact with your customers. This provider is only necessary for the technical part; you will most likely need to purchase the software from a specialised company. For many large companies that have built up a good reputation, it is important to not lose direct contact with their customers.
For smaller companies, it is more important to provide a good service and be more available. For them, managing contact themselves often comes second. Their contact moments often involve fewer aspects, such as communication guidelines or service policies. In these cases, this contact can easily be transferred to a specialised company. If it is not important for you to maintain contact yourself, but it is important to provide a good service, and more importantly, be more available to your customers, outsourcing is the right option for you.
2 – Do I have the space to hire new personnel or train my current personnel?
Larger, well-established companies usually have a large team dedicated entirely towards customer service. It is easier for them to retrain existing customer-service personnel to function as chat operators, or to hire new, specialised personnel members. Hiring new personnel and, more importantly, training them to perform this function is also not a problem for them. There are often existing training programmes to achieve this, and new personnel is regularly hired.
Do you have a small customer-service team of fewer than ten people, or maybe not even a separate customer-service department? In that case, it is always the best option to outsource live chat. A provider can train a number of operators for your company and products, and will only employ the number of people required. Because they always have personnel on standby, you are never faced with over or understaffing, nor do you need to worry about people going on holiday or being absent due to illness.
3 – What is my available investment budget?
Outsourcing customer service will save money in most cases. Only for companies that have a (reasonably) large budget and customer-service team, is it advisable to manage live chat in house. Such large companies can train their personnel to perform multiple tasks, so that employees are employable in different departments. In this way, they guarantee that their live chat is never understaffed, and at times when the channel isn’t busy, these employees support other departments. But, in some cases, it could be beneficial for large companies to outsource live chat, due to high internal overhead costs.
If you would like to expand your customer-service channels with live chat, but you only have a limited budget to work with, outsourcing is always the best option. You need not worry about hiring new personnel and training them, or about under or overstaffing. Because providers always have plenty of people on standby, they can easily switch gears at peak times or in the event of illness. A specialised company trains its personnel to chat for multiple companies, making their employees versatile and employable for a wide range of projects. This allows the provider to keep costs low; something you will ultimately feel in your wallet.
4 – Are my opening hours sufficient?
Because large companies often have a large team at the ready, they also have longer opening hours. This allows them to meet the need of customers to also be open outside of traditional office hours. For many companies, keeping their customer service open after office hours is incredibly expensive, but large companies can easily do so with their own team.
Many websites experience a sharp rise in the number of visitors after seven o’clock in the evening. Are you open from nine to five and do you not have the financial means nor the staff to be available via live chat for customers in the evening or at the weekend? If so, outsourcing is always the best option. You can also choose to conduct your own live chat during your opening hours and employ the services of a live-chat provider outside of these hours.
5 – Do I have enough time to invest in the implementation of live chat?
Large companies have many employees, allowing them to employ more people for the implementation of new projects within the company. They often have a department or a budget for hiring temporary personnel or hiring experts in the field to do things for them. Time is not such an issue for them; for them, it’s a matter of getting all processes into motion.
For small companies, it is often difficult to free up the time to create new departments or implement new strategies within the company. There often isn’t enough personnel, and the personnel they do have is very busy with other things. This makes it undesirable for existing personnel to be given more tasks, because to do so would diminish the quality of the tasks they are already responsible for. For such companies, it is highly advisable to outsource both the implementation and daily running of live chat.
6 – Can I handle the number of incoming chats of my busy website?
If your website attracts many visitors, there’s a chance that a considerable number of them would like to contact you. If they do so via chat, but you’re unable to handle the pressure of this for whatever reason, it is certainly a good idea to seek assistance. Consider outsourcing part of the contact requests and have your own team deal with the technical and substantive questions that are harder to answer.
In this way, you can lower the number of chats your own team has to deal with, thus reducing the pressure on your team while ensuring all your visitors get the assistance they need and all their questions are answered. This is also a way to ensure that contact moments with customers are of a higher quality, keeping all your customers satisfied.
You should have a good idea whether outsourcing live chat is the best idea for your company after reading this article. For more information, also read our article about outsourcing versus managing your own live chat.