Whether you should provide great customer service isn’t a question, yet determining what form of department or partnership is right for your company can be perplexing. Factors including cost, time and effort all weigh heavily on the decision on whether to build and train an in-house customer service department or to outsource and partner with someone like an answering service.
There is more at play than just logistics, the goodwill of your customers may rest on making the right decision. If you are in the process of making this decision, we are breaking down the factors relevant to you.
Building an In-House Department
Building an in-house customer service department can end up being costly, but worth it for certain companies. It’s important to factor in that hiring, training and maintaining an entire team of customer service representatives can take a lot of time and money, making this route prohibitive for some companies.
Advantages of In-House
- Your customer service representatives will be closer to your business.
- Offers customers direct access to specialists, especially if you are in a tech industry.
- If your business is continually shifting, it may be easier and less expensive to train an internal team on these shifts than a partner.
- Can be more cost effective for complex products and services to train an in-house team than training an outside team on your company.
Disadvantages of In-House
- Can require creating a new position or positions, and hiring new employees with all the overhead that entails.
- High cost of training and time-consuming. Not just training staff on nuances of your business, but on customer service itself.
- Have to own and maintain the equipment for a team, as well as own or rent space.
- If you need to be available at night, or even 24/7, it makes managing staff more complicated and is not efficient for occasional calls.
Outsourcing with a Partner
Outsourcing to an answering service partner is a great way to save on costs, risks and training time. Working with an outside partner can become complicated for highly specialized businesses, or products/services that require certifications or vast amounts of knowledge.
Advantages of Outsourcing
- On-call hours mean a partner is available 24/7 if you need them, without wasting efficiency.
- The right customer service partner will be experts at providing customer service without training.
- Can support your team when they are not able to answer phones directly, and versatile in multiple levels of service.
- Independently located, often with backups, ensuring your customer service never goes down.
Disadvantages of Outsourcing
- Requires in-depth training on complicated businesses to be able to offer independent service on demand.
- Not as agile as an in-house department to new company changes.
- Not always able to escalate a situation as easily as an in-house department (depends highly on industry and logistics with partner company)
What You Don’t See Coming
Ever been stuck in the elevator and been unable to field customer calls? We’ve heard of it happening. If that were to happen to one of your customer service representatives, an answering service partner could quickly step in to make sure your phones are getting answered when the unforeseen happens. This includes bad weather, internet outages and more. It could also include finding a partner in a warm climate, so the winter weather isn’t a factor for your customer service. An outside partner offers a layer of redundancy and safety against what you don’t see coming.
The Middle Ground
So far we’ve explored the idea of absolutes for the most part — either working with an outside partner or creating an in-house department. It may actually work out that the best course of action is a combination. An answering service can provide support after-hours and during lunch hours for both large and small teams. Certain partners can handle parts of your customer service business as well, answering for medical services through the night and escalating emergencies to the on-call physician or nurse.
These combinations of customer service teams allow for an efficient set-up and one that can make sure your customers are always getting what they need while also being budget friendly.
Sometimes certifications can be a restrictive part of your business, with representatives or specialists requiring precise training. This can lead to a situation where the best course of action is to create an in-house team, yet other times it can save you a headache and a lot of money working with a certified partner. HIPAA compliance is both mandatory and prohibitive when working with an outside partner, yet if they are already certified and compliant it saves you the time and energy of training a team, setting up the safeguards, and enforcing them.
Focus on What’s Right for You and Your Customers
The main thing when making this decision is to do what is right for your business and your customers. What will keep them happy and continuously returning to you? Complex companies should consider a hybrid or in-house solution, while many other companies would benefit from the cost savings and an expert customer service team of an answering service partner.