Written By: Tony Jurica
Competition for customers is fiercer in the hospitality industry than in any other. As today’s fickle customers come to expect more and more from hospitality service providers, the success of your brand is dependent on providing the best customer experience possible.
Because your contact center is the front line of your company’s customer support, the question of whether to outsource any of these activities must be considered carefully, not only from the perspective of your customers, but for its impact on your business operations and the bottom line.
The Pros of Outsourcing
Simply put, the benefits of contact center outsourcing come down to lowered costs and higher flexibility.
These savings can come from operational functions such as billing, credit and collections; infrastructure; overhead such as service outages and emergency routing; and labor. Turning part or all of these over to a provider allows your business to focus on what it does best: developing and producing goods and services. A good provider should be able to guarantee a standard level of service and cost, which is useful for budgeting purposes and could favorably affect your KPIs, particularly cost per transaction.
However, keeping costs down may not be your primary motivator for considering contact center outsourcing. The Everest Group recently found that the driving motivations are shifting away from the traditional (such as cost savings) to a desire for capabilities such as digital analytics, access to better technology, and multi-channel solutions.
Stay On the Cutting Edge
Keeping up with the latest and most effective customer service applications is not only daunting, it is expensive to implement and maintain. When your center is outsourced, new technology solutions are scouted, tested and implemented by your provider without the need for your company’s investment or capital expense.
More Flexibility, Fewer Concerns
When launching new services or moving into new markets, it can be hard to absorb the costs involved with adding customer service staff. Outsourcing your contact center means the provider handles day-to-day concerns such as workforce management, additional agent training, skills-based routing and reporting analytics; this means your provider can offer 24/7 responsiveness without any additional cost to you, and also provide greater flexibility around scheduling for higher call volumes or implementing new campaigns. And, this frees up your team to focus on the strategic parts of your business.
The Cons of Outsourcing
The main disadvantages to contact center outsourcing surface around issues of quality and control. As noted above, these issues are of particular concern to an industry like hospitality that hinges on customer goodwill and an exemplary brand promise.
Unless your provider maintains a focus on ensuring call quality and meeting contact center service level agreements (SLAs), call quality can suffer. Adapting processes between your company and a provider is a two-way partnership; you must rely on the managerial abilities of your provider while doing your best to support their integration into your business.
Agents are critical to the success of any outsourced contact center. Outsourced agents may have lower awareness of your company’s products, culture, policies, etc. Furthermore, they may not be as vested in the success of your company or as devoted to your customers. Proper training is important for any agent anywhere and can address many of these issues for outsourced staff. Another way to minimize this potential impact is to outsource only overflow calls at peak periods or those specific processes that serve a smaller role in customer care.
The Dreaded Silo Effect
In an era when customer feedback is influencing business operations from sales and marketing to engineering, the goal for many companies is to effectively tear down any departmental silos as part of the digital transformation. However, if communication is lacking between your company and your outsourcing provider, silos can develop or be reinforced between customer service functions and other departments. Any successful outsourcing plan must include effective processes and measures to minimize or eliminate these silos. Top-notch outsourcers will ensure that they stay in the loop with your company and continuously share their insight with their agents.
Privacy and Data Security
At the same time customers are demanding higher levels of service, they are also more concerned than ever about securing their private information. It is crucial for your business to be highly selective when choosing an outsourcing provider that will have access to your customer data. Look for a reputable provider that does everything in its power to safeguard its clients’ data.
In short, if outsourcing your contact center is a priority for your business, seek a provider that is innovative, secure, flexible, and focused not only on your business but on your customers. The goal is for your companies to function as long-term strategic partners that will grow together.
Tony Jurica, senior director of Voxai Solutions‘ Cloud Practice, brings over two decades of experience in the contact center technology industry both as an industry consultant and as a technical leader in a Fortune 500 company. He lends his extensive expertise in managing enterprise contact centers to customers to support their efforts to improve their customer experience.