This is the first of a 3 part introduction to outsourcing.
Outsourced call centres exist to make it as easy as possible for a company to provide customer support for the lowest cost. These call centres can be local/onshore or offshore and are designed to handle large amounts of support volume or very specialized support. In some cases support reps handle calls for multiple companies (campaigns) during their shift. On the one hand, the quality of support and customer care suffers, while on the other, the cost of support decreases. In theory the savings is passed on to the customer.
Outsourcing can be a great way to lower wait times, increase efficiencies and defer to experts in improving customer experience. It began that way, long ago. Unfortunately, for several reasons (greed, lack of care, lack of understanding, lack of a plan, etc.) it is generally accepted that outsourcing means poor support. There are standouts who demonstrate what outsourcing should be. For example, Apple Inc. has most, if not all, of their support outsourced.
Apple continuously gets top marks from many independent sources such as this one for their support. How is Apple’s support different than any other company? Including Steve Jobs’ harsh emails to customers, Apple cares what their customers think. Although Apple is secretive, I know that they have dedicated resources (Apple employees), that work out of their outsourced locations to measure and report on the quality of support. This is critical to understanding customers. Apple has locations in Canada, the United States, India, the Philippines, among others.
At busy times, calls can be routed anywhere, but Apple attempts to localize support so that when you call from Canada you speak to someone in Canada, likewise for the many other countries. In my opinion this is valuable because of the rapport building that goes into a support call. The rep needs to quickly give the customer a sense of comfort in order to have a positive customer experience.
If a rep can talk about the weather, the local news or sports, in just a few seconds the customer thinks that the rep understands them better, and as a result, will have more confidence in the rep. Think about this the next time you call support. Is it the rep’s knowledge or was it their ability to establish a rapport that made you feel good or bad?
I’ll review offshore call centres in my next post…
I have no investment or affiliation with Apple. Inc.