As a representative of a business entity, you might have faced such term as “outsourcing.” It stands for recruiting a person or group of individuals outside the organization to carry out products or services that were initially developed and distributed by the in-house employees.
Since the 1990s, this practice was quickly developing and conquering the global market. eCommerce organizations benefit from implementing this approach to doing business in many ways. It is estimated that 300,000 positions are outsourced annually, according to the statistics from Entrepreneur.
Some of the most popular advantages include:
- Decreased costs
- Optimized scalability
- Increased productivity
- Minimized workloads
If you want to obtain a competitive advantage for your company, you should know how to outsource properly. It is not the easiest strategy.
How to Outsource Effectively (On the Example of Customer Service)
One of the most frequently outsourced tasks/departments is client care and support service. The responsibilities of this team are not the core business tasks, so you can afford to hire someone outside your company to fulfill them. Below, you can find the steps to consider.
Identify Your Needs and Goals
Almost any business process starts with brainstorming. Think about how a perfect client support department should look like. How many people would you like to have in it? You should also keep in mind such factors as:
- Local vs. global
- Ways of communication (chat, phone, etc.)
- Working hours
- Team of people or one individual
- List of tasks to do
- Time zone
- Common client care philosophy
- Scaling up and down
- Growth perspectives
- Emergency cases
Though English outsourced agents guarantee the best results, some companies prefer hiring teams from Eastern Europe, for instance, to save more money. We recommend hiring people from those countries in case your support does not include phone calls, or you are looking for experienced web or app developers.
Decide on the Perfect Candidates for Your Team
Many platforms and networks offer outsourcing services. You may either pick the time-tested organizations or try something new. Search for the external teams on online marketplaces that connect businesses to customer support virtual assistants. You may even look on social media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn or search for the options on websites that specialize in e-commerce outsourcing. Have you ever outsourced parts of someone’s business earlier? Then, you might want to ask for referrals from them.
Get to Know the Best Applicants
On the whole, hiring outsourced agents may remind you of the process of recruiting an in-house employee. You will have to test and interview the selected candidates before making the final decision. You may wonder how well they know the area in which your organization is involved.
They should read reviews and comments that your clients leave, be aware of special apps that might be useful in work, understand client support in general, and more. Sure, you should specify their time zone, preferred working schedule, and desired wages. Skype, Zoom, and Google Meetings will help with your interviews.
Let Them Meet Your People
Once you pick the preferable candidates and both sides agree on the contracts, introduce them to the rest of the company and what you do. Describe your service or product in as many details as possible. Introduce people and departments that they will have to work with closely. Demonstrate the software and other resources that your customer care reps should use. In other words, it is all about education in the first stages, no matter how experienced the selected staff is.
To do everything listed above, come up with co-working sessions online. We have already mentioned the recommended apps for your group calls. Video calls are preferred. Also, make sure that you can share the screen of your computer with the outsourced agents. For the first few days or even weeks, it is necessary to guide the new members to avoid critical and small mistakes. After you are done with one person’s education, you may delegate teaching tasks to them to train the newcomers. It will save your time and nerves significantly. A doc with policies and procedures should be carefully reviewed and signed by both sides.
Supervise and Control the Agents
Even if you hire the best customer support agents globally, they will not work as effectively as you expect without proper management from your side. You should give them constant examples of what you expect to get from their work. Make sure to set up S.M.A.R.T. goals and share them with your new employees. For instance, it might be about keeping an agent’s average response time under a couple of hours.
Sure, you should schedule overlapping shifts. It is impossible to work days and nights long without breaks and days off. Be sober and realistic, having at least two people in charge of your customer support. Set up their shifts together. It is better to have at least three members for any force majeure cases. Experts recommend using a cloud-based calendar to fix schedules and make it possible to ask for additional vacations.
Paying the Salaries
That is it! Everything left to do is pay your outsourced customer support agents and do it fairly and quickly. Otherwise, you risk missing great experts. So, if you cooperate with third-party marketplaces for such needs, they will be the intermediaries for payments. In case you did not use those websites, just discuss all of the payment opportunities and special systems designed to receive/send payments between freelancers and business entities. There are plenty of them, starting from a good, old PayPal, and finishing with payment methods like Skrill, Payoneer, ePayService, ePayments, and more. It is often enough for an employee to send an invoice payable, and you accept it.
To sum up, if you decide to hire an outsourced customer support team, simply start with your objectives and needs. Surf the web looking for the proper marketplaces and select candidates; interview the best picks to choose your staff; give them a tour of your business, and manage the team wisely. Oh, and do not forget to pay your new agents!