Digital customer contact: outsource it or manage it yourself?

Live chat can be outsourced to a specialised company. This has the most advantages by far, making it the right choice for most companies. But, there are a number of points to be made for keeping live chat in house; control, for example. When should you manage your own live chat and for whom is it more advantageous to outsource? Let’s take a look. 

If you have a (large) team of people working for your customer service and live chat is only a part of that, you can train a small group of your existing team to become chat operators, or hire new people to perform this role. For some (large) companies, it can be very important to maintain control over all channels of communication, and to maintain contact with customers themselves. It’s a good idea for them to keep digital customer contact in house. To do this, they should consider the following points:

Train your personnel differently

Make sure that you’re aware that training chat operators is very different from training call-centre employees. The way of communicating via chat differs strongly from telephone-based Therefore, an entirely different approach is required, since the skills that must be learnt are different.

Outsource when? If you have little or no time to train your own team or hire a new team, or if you don’t have the personnel to do this for you.

Expand your opening hours

Generally speaking, the time that most (potential) customers will be browsing your website and looking to contact you via live chat will be in the evening or at the weekend. This is why you must employ people to work these hours. If your office is open from nine to five, this requires you to stay open longer. Another idea is to have people working at a different location that is specifically used for live chat.

Outsource when? If you have limited opening hours and do not have the option of expanding these or using a different location, while visitors often visit your website outside of office hours. 

Purchase different software

The technology of digital customer contact is also different; you must purchase entirely different software. This software must be installed and subsequently adapted to your website and team. Afterwards, everything will need to be tested and optionally updated to streamline the channel and prevent bottlenecks from arising. The software can only be implemented on the website once this has been done. It is not very complicated, but companies do often have difficulties executing the technology required for live chat. Take into account that this step may take considerable time.

Outsource when? If you don’t have the money, the personnel, the time or the necessary devices to purchase, adapt, test and implement the software.

Always be on standby

Finally, you must take into consideration that live chat is always “live”. This means that incoming chats must always be answered on the spot. This is a crucial point, and, if you are not able to deliver what you’ve promised in this regard, you will lose customers. Your website’s visitors often consciously opt for live chat because they think picking up the phone or sending an email is too time consuming. This means you must meet this expectation and immediately answer chats; preferably within 30 seconds.

If you promise your website visitors that you are available for live chat between 17:00 and 21:00, you must make sure that you always have a team of people on standby, even if someone is on holiday. This is difficult for many companies, particularly if someone is absent due to illness. Additionally, you must take into account that you can never know exactly how many of your website’s visitors will be contacting you via live chat. As such, you might have too many chat operators working for the number of chats coming in, which costs you money.

Outsource when? If you do not have enough personnel to compensate for unexpected absences. People regularly go on holiday and are ill from time to time. You must always be able to absorb staffing gaps. Also outsource if you have a limited budget and would like to avoid having too many chat operators on standby for incoming chats. A flexible team of operators is important. 

Even more reasons to outsource digital customer contact

Live chat is a recent development; only a few years old, in contrast to “traditional” call centres. It could save many companies a lot of money to outsource for all the above points. This means you do not have to train or hire personnel and make software available for your personnel. Additionally, your provider will assist you with the installation and personalisation of your software. Furthermore, you need not worry about the purchase of devices and making space available outside of office hours.

Instead, you pay a relatively small sum to a specialised provider to take responsibility for your live chat. This provider has all these tools immediately available. By outsourcing live chat, you save both time, effort and money. At the same time, you are available online, your customers are being assisted and are possibly even generating leads that you can follow up on the next day. Is time and money more important to you than maintaining contact with your customers yourself or do you have a limited budget? In that case, we highly recommend outsourcing your digital customer contact.

Would you like to know how to select the most suitable provider of live chat for your company? Read our article How do you choose a live chat outsourcing company”?

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