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The pro’s and cons of ecommerce customer service outsourcing

Last updated December 11, 2023 6 min to read
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Ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of customer queries, emails, and calls? Are you straining to cope but failing due to limited resources or lack of expertise in handling customer issues? It’s a common predicament for many eCommerce businesses. An increasingly popular solution is eCommerce customer service outsourcing – essentially delegating your customer service tasks to experts outside your organization.

However, like any strategy, there are both positives and negatives to consider. Let’s explore both sides of the coin, and help you make an informed decision about whether customer service outsourcing right for your business needs or not. Are the pros compelling enough? Or are the cons a deal-breaker? Let’s dive into the debate together!


TL;DR

Pros of eCommerce Customer Service Outsourcing:

  • Access to Expertise and Technologies: Outsourcing offers industry expertise and advanced tools like AI chatbots.
  • Enhanced Scalability: Facilitates easy service adjustments during peak and off-peak seasons.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Reduces overhead costs including salaries and office space.
  • Round-the-clock Support: Achieves 24/7 customer service availability across time zones.

Cons of Outsourcing:

  • Control Issues: Outsourcing may limit direct control over customer service quality and alignment with brand values.
  • Communication Barriers: Cultural and geographical differences might lead to misunderstandings.
  • Product Knowledge Limitations: Outsourced teams could lack detailed product knowledge.
  • Hidden Costs: Possibility of unforeseen expenses and the need for additional training.

Alternatives to outsourcing

  • Provides centralized multi-channel communication platforms (live chat, email, social media).
  • Routes simple problems to self-help content, freeing agents for complex inquiries.
  • Enhances scalability and efficiency in customer support.
  • Reduces the need for a large in-house team, balancing cost-effectiveness and quality control.
  • eDesk’s advanced AI features include sentiment analysis, message classification, and AI message composition, ensuring responses are timely, tailored, and emotionally intelligent.

Pro’s of eCommerce Customer Service Outsourcing

Expanding a business always comes with its fair share of decision-making. One choice many growing eCommerce businesses face is whether to outsource customer service or manage it in-house. If you are wrestling with this question, allow me to guide you through some benefits of outsourcing.

Access to Expertise and Advanced Technologies

The first thing that might come to mind when considering eCommerce customer service outsourcing is the depth of expertise and advanced technologies available at your fingertips. By partnering with experienced outsourcing providers, you can tap into their vast reservoirs of industry knowledge which they have accumulated over years serving numerous clients in diverse industries.

Moreover, these firms usually invest significantly in state-of-the-art technology. This means taking advantage of sophisticated tools like artificial intelligence-based chatbots and high-quality eCommerce customer service software without having to bear the burden of purchasing those expensive resources.

Enhanced Scalability

Scaling up or down based on seasonal shopping patterns can be a gigantic task for in-house customer service departments. However, leveraging an outsourced provider brings significant merit here due to its flexible nature. You can conveniently ramp up services during busy periods like holidays and festivals, then scale them back during quieter times—an approach that nicely dovetails with budgeting strategies while still meeting demand head-on.

Cost-effectiveness

Who would pass on an opportunity to save money? Outsourcing often stands as a clear winner when comparing costs between maintaining an in-house team and using third-party services. The daunting overhead expenses related to hiring full-time staff—think salaries, benefits, office space requirements—are effectively mitigated when employing an external vendor for managing customers’ calls and inquiries.

Additionally, since these costs are typically spread over multiple clients by the outsourcing firm aiding your venture, cost efficiencies are likely raised even further.

Round-the-clock support

What if I told you that eCommerce customer service outsourcing can make your business ‘open’ 24/7? Yes, this is not a figment of the imagination. By entrusting your customer queries to companies in different time zones, you can ensure prompt responses to customers no matter the hour—leading to higher customer satisfaction and comparatively better brand reputation.

While every coin has two sides, these are a few substantial pro’s of taking the outsourcing route for your eCommerce venture. However, keep in mind that your specific business requirements should always guide all strategic decisions, including this one.

Con’s of eCommerce customer service outsourcing

Control Issues

Outsourcing reduces direct control over customer service operations, making it challenging for businesses to ensure alignment with brand values and standards.

Communication Barriers

Geographical and cultural differences can create communication challenges, potentially leading to misunderstandings and impacting the overall customer experience.

Product Knowledge Limitations

Third-party representatives may lack in-depth knowledge of products or services, hindering their ability to provide accurate information and potentially eroding customer trust.

Hidden Costs

While outsourcing may seem cost-effective initially, businesses may face unexpected fees, additional charges, or the need for extensive training, contributing to increased overall expenses. Careful assessment is crucial to maintain long-term cost-effectiveness.

Careful planning and research can help to mitigate these outsourcing drawbacks, however if these cons are a dealbreaker for your business, there are several alternative solutions that may be more suitable.

Alternatives to eCommerce customer service outsourcing

When considering the customer support department for your online business, outsourcing might seem like the most convenient and cost-effective strategy. But it’s not the only game in town. If eCommerce customer service outsourcing doesn’t align with your corporate ethos or if you have reservations about quality control, trust issues, or a desire to keep close tabs on every interaction with your customers; here are a few alternatives worth exploring.

In-house dedicated support team

Creating an in-house team is the traditional alternative approach to outsourcing. With this method, you will have direct control over training, a closer handle on quality assurance measures and can ensure that company culture is reflected accurately in every customer interaction.

Furthermore,

  • It enables quicker resolution of complex issues.
  • Ensures excellent product knowledge since the reps are part of the company.
  • Saves time as there’s no need to communicate directives via third parties.

However, note this option has its drawbacks, such as higher costs due to recruitment, training, equipment purchases plus salaries & benefits packages.

eCommerce customer service software

With eCommerce businesses increasingly conducting their operations digitally, helpdesk platforms are coming into popularity as effective ways to manage customer queries economically.

Each platform will have its set of capabilities, however the basic benefits of using these systems include:

  1. Provides centralized multichannel communication platforms (live chat, email, social media).
  2. Routes simple problems to self-help content, freeing agents for complex inquiries.
  3. Enhances scalability and efficiency in customer support.
  4. AI capabilities offer automated, yet personalized and empathetic responses.
  5. Reduces the need for a large in-house team, balancing cost-effectiveness and quality control.
  6. Advanced AI features like eDesk’s sentiment analysis, message classification, and AI message composition, ensuring responses are timely, tailored, and emotionally intelligent.

Just like outsourcing, eDesk, an eCommerce customer support software, can enhance scalability, reduce support center costs without compromising the quality of customer support operations.

eDesk consolidates customer support interactions from all your sales and communication channels into one unified inbox. We all know that switching between marketplaces and checking DMs on various social platforms can be time-consuming.

With eDesk’s centralized approach, you can boost efficiency and free up resources essential for driving business growth. It automatically associates each customer message with order data and customer history across every sales channel, providing your in-house team with the necessary data to seamlessly resolve customer queries.

In case your agent requires additional support to resolve a ticket, eDesk offers a suite of collaboration tools. This makes it easy to @mention an agent or share a ticket with non-eDesk users both inside and outside the business to escalate the query. Moreover, all external communication is centralized within eDesk.

The standout feature of eDesk is its AI-Powered automations, significantly reducing the need for outsourcing. Features like AI summaries for long messages and entire ticket threads empower agents to provide faster responses. eDesk AI analyzes incoming messages, assigning sentiment and category to provide your agents with an organized and contextual view of customer queries, aiding in better prioritization.

And with full visibility and control over all customer support operations in eDesk, you gain access to detailed insights for seamless analysis and optimization.

Freelance customer support representatives

Sometimes hiring dedicated full-time staff isn’t feasible, but you still want all hands-on deck – enter freelance professionals! This arrangement brings together flexibility and familiarity: freelancers provide services whenever you need them, and they can become familiar with your product given time.

Perks of freelancers include:

  • Less expense due to no provision of insurance, taxes, and benefits unlike full-time employees.
  • Offers flexibility in scaling as one can hire more when business picks up or downsize during slow periods.

Of course, these options also come with their pros and cons just like eCommerce customer service outsourcing. So I urge you to weigh them carefully before making your final call. The goal is to strike the right balance for your unique situation – fulfilling customer expectations while cost-effectively managing resources at hand.

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