How Outsourcing Your Contact Center Can Help Your E-Commerce Business

The benefits of outsourcing your call center — we should really call them “contact centers,” since today’s customer communication takes the form of phone calls, email, chat and social media engagement — are not always intuitively obvious, but they are very real. Accordingly, here is a strategic overview of how outsourcing the contact center improves an e-commerce company’s performance:

Provide 24/7/365 Customer Service

By its very nature, an e-commerce website is open for business 24/7/365. However, staffing a three-shift contact center represents an enormous commitment, and, given the frequently narrow margins of e-commerce, could add enough overhead expense to put profitability in peril.  Moreover, an in-house staff will inevitably experience swings in activity; using an outsourced contact center, a firm pays only for work being done, not idle time.

Speak the Customer’s Language

An e-commerce company that takes orders from customers around the world needs not only 24/7/365 customer service, it must provide it in an array of languages — a daunting hiring task for a company intent on an in-house operation. In contrast, a professional contact center has already hired a multilingual staff, and has the resources to maintain staffing levels when turnover occurs. Communicating in the customer’s language improves customer satisfaction, and customer retention, as well as attract new customers who share that language.

Hit the Ground Running with Stellar Service

E-commerce leaders like Amazon have set a sky-high bar for customer service. Today’s online customers are astute enough to know what kind of service experience to expect, and are quick to abandon e-commerce companies that fail to meet those expectations. Since a contact center is exclusively in the business of customer service, its staff members are relentlessly trained to handle all customer situations in the best way possible. What’s more, because contact centers have dealt with so many types of situations, their knowledge base far exceeds what any individual company could match without decades of similar experience.

Gain Valuable Time to Improve Your Core Strengths

While customer service is vitally important and can never be considered a distraction, it is an area of business that can be outsourced to qualified, competent providers. However, not every element of an e-commerce business is so efficiently outsourced. By relieving itself of the burden of hiring, managing, training and evaluating an in-house contact center, an e-commerce company can make itself stronger in other key areas, putting distance between itself and its competitors. For example:

  • Who knows better than you which new products will attract business, and which products are dying and should be phased out? Merchandising is the soul of an e-commerce business and does not easily lend itself to the out-of-body option of outsourcing.
  • Website development. If merchandising is the soul of e-commerce, the website is the body and does all of the heavy lifting. The more resources an e-commerce company can devote to improving user experience, conversion optimization, website functionality, search engine optimization, page loading speed and scores of other items, the more business the website will generate.
  • Margins. As mentioned earlier, maintaining healthy margins in e-commerce is a challenge. In order to manage costs, a company must devote as much time as possible to purchasing, inventory management, fulfillment, order accuracy, product quality and, as with the website, a host of other items. Managing margins requires working in the trenches; a hands-on approach from top to bottom. It is simply not a function that can be outsourced.

For many e-commerce businesses, there is a short window to become established as a leader in the market. During that critical window, it’s imperative that the business managers focus on merchandising, website development and margins rather than contact center management. IDC predicts that contact centers will grow between 15 percent and 25 percent over the next few years because of the business benefits an outsourced call center can provide.

About the Author:

Darcy Tudor is the Executive Vice President and Director of Operations at Marketing Alternatives Inc. MAI provides flexible, turnkey solutions for businesses of all sizes with its Marketing Alternatives Contact Center Services.