How to Keep Customer Service Jobs On Shore
History repeats itself
I have worked in call centers since I was 18 years old. When I was 23, I was laid off for the first time because the cost to operate was much too high. By the time I was 25, I was working for a SaaS company that had off-shored customer service because it was too expensive. At 31, I ran a contact center for an online shoe subscription service that was acquired by its biggest competitor and the entire support team was divided between Mexico and the Philippines.
I’ve watched Customer Service jobs go away in every role I’ve filled. Each and every time, it was due to cost. It’s never been due to quality of service. In my experience, I believe this is because the delivery of best in class customer service comes with many checks and balances and a hefty price tag that many don’t anticipate at the start.
Those checks and balances include Workforce Management (WFM) to get the right people, in the right place, at the right time. You’ll need Learning and Development (L&D) to provide culture and workflow training for the people you hire. You will need an omni-channel support strategy, as well as a Unified Communications (UC) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tool. Finally, you’ll need Quality Assurance (QA) to consistently verify that you’re delivering the experience you’ve set out to create.
So why does Customer Service go offshore?
Well, as you build your support team (folks who handle the Customer engagement), you have to have enabling functions or support teams (WFM, L&D and QA). The costs of these roles can really break the bank. Sometimes, startups will forego these roles, only to be plagued with Customer complaints related to wait times, lots of escalations to leadership and inconsistent or poor Customer experiences.
It’s at this point they look to cut costs and move business offshore.
Sara Stafforni wrote that a customer is 33% more likely to leave a company due to a bad experience. Bad Customer experiences cost about $75B a year.
It’s actually NEVER too early to start thinking about your Customer Experience.
Here are 6 things to consider when creating your best in class Customer Service Team.
Decide who you want to be. Better is a relative term, be different.
When choosing tools, think about whether your selections will work when your Customer base doubles. If the answer is no, move on.
Don’t hire a full time person who has never executed on your vision. Instead, find a freelancer or strategic advisor who has delivered your vision before. Some of their time to execute your vision will go a long way. This will also enable you to hire someone less experienced to run the team, ultimately saving you thousands of dollars each year.
Build your CX team with a plan that shows when and who to hire. Start with your leadership team and let them do the rest. You don’t need a full time Workforce Management or Training person to start. Leverage partnerships to build out these functions.
Create a training curriculum that allows you to start a new hire class on a Tuesday if you choose. It should be really simple for people to jump in and learn your work. Try to get them as productive as possible as quickly as possible. Everyone won’t stick.
Check your employee performance consistently with a quality assurance program. Be sure you’re delivering the experience you set out to create. Do this with a partner, and save thousands.