The pros and cons of outsourcing live chat

Trends toward outsourcing in general have accelerated again after the recession when companies started looking for cost savings and minimal operational complexity. With the current volatile economy, in which companies need to save on operating costs to keep up with the competition, outsourcing live chat has become increasingly popular. According to a study by EverestGroup, figures indicate that the expenses for contact center outsourcing in 2013 have increased by 7% relative to the preceding year. Expenses within non-voice channels (e-mail, chat, social media) even grew by 35-40% per year.

Pros of outsourcing live chat

  • Cost benefits: According to estimates, companies save between 30-50 percent by outsourcing live chat.
  • More attention to core activities: While customer service is important to the success of a company, it is necessary for companies to focus on important areas, such as production, distribution, marketing, and sales. Outsourcing live chat enables you to put more time and effort into the core activities of your business.
  • Ease of expansion: With the rising cost of real estate, you can save a lot of money, even with a small expansion. However, outsourcing live chat can help you expand your infrastructure and customer support without incurring huge costs.
  • Reduced risk: If you outsource live chat services to a third party, you let them share the risk. This gives your company some assurance, which means risks are limited in case of problems.
  • Expert advice: Most companies which offer outsourcing services have trained and quality staff with the goal of ensuring that customers value your brand. This saves you the task and cost of training chat operators.

Cons of outsourcing live chat – and what to do with them

Less control: Because outsourcing means the live chat operators will be further away from you, you would have less control over them. Solution: the advantage off live chat is that everything is measurable. Moreover, all chat conversations are saved. That way, you can see exactly what is said in all chats and how the managed live chat provider is performing. By evaluating the performance on a monthly basis, it is easy to make adjustments.

Confidentiality: Companies that deal with highly sensitive information might risk violating their customer confidentiality. Companies that process medical patient data must ensure that the procedures used in the outsourcing company are secure. Solution: make clear agreements, ensure the managed live chat provider is certified, that all data is sent encrypted, and that the employees have signed confidentiality agreements.

Jobs disappear: Companies that outsource their live chat may need to eliminate the positions of existing contact center staff. Although outsourcing enables companies to save in terms of labor costs, it may also jeopardize the jobs of some of their long-term, loyal employees. Solution: discuss with the outsourcing party whether they can take on (part of) the relevant staff. This way, the employees are assured of their jobs.

Less focus: While an in-house live chat contact center is fully focused on your company, it may be that an external contact center works with many companies. As a result, they would not be able to offer customers the same service quality they are used to from your company. Solution: when choosing an external contact center, pay attention to the way they deal with customers. To what extent is customer satisfaction important and is it measured? Do they offer SLAs? Etc.

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