The decision to hire freelance customer support agents for our businesses is not an easy one. There are too many factors that need to be considered before implementing any process. After all, the monetary costs and risks involved could be an active deterrent. Even so, any chance at a significant increase in productivity is one you should take
Some industries can easily decide whether or not to outsource their customer support department. For e-commerce businesses, this is not the case. The intricate structure of e-Commerce businesses cuts off any option of making rash choices without proper consideration.
So, what is the deal? Should you outsource or not? This is the question we intend to give you pointers for. Having weighed the subsequent pros and cons, you should be able to easily decide whether or not to outsource e-commerce customer service.
Pros of Outsourcing Customer Service
- Reduction in Workload
Like most businesses, an e-Commerce customer service agency faces a lot of challenges vis-à-vis manpower. This is especially the case when sales are going up, but your current workforce finds it impossible to keep up. In such scenarios, outsourcing your customer service is one of the most practical options.
When you outsource customer service, you create a new ‘engine’ from which your e-Commerce business can power up and satisfy demands. This significantly cuts down the amount of work that you would ordinarily assign to your employees. So, for workers who have been forced into a jack-of-all-trades position, hiring a freelancer to help with customer service gives them much-needed breathing room.
- Increased Workflow Efficiency
A good freelancer handling your customer service can help you block every gap in your workflow. Assume that you have employees who are involved with both the phone lines and monitoring your business’ daily task roll. There is considerably little this individual can do to go from simply holding down the fort to turning out innovations that boost your sales. Even so, this is a possibility with outsourced staff. This is especially the case when your freelancer(s) know how to leverage, for example, any reliable Google project management tool.
Your workforce will not be stretched too thin when you outsource your customer service department. Moreover, since this particular department requires all-day-every-day supervision, hiring freelancers to handle it could better simplify the integration of your original employees and their original commission. This is consistent with the principle that given enough time, practice becomes expertise.
- Better Use of Time/Company Capital
By effectively reducing your daily workload and improving workflow efficiency, you can put the extra time into better work. Seeing as outsourcing your customer service unit allows more breathing room for your workers, the odds of employee engagement on a deeper level cannot be higher. This is also true for company capital.
If you play your cards well and get diligent and skilled freelancers to man the customer service post for you, you will have enough turnover to increase your revenue. In such an instance, you would have made the best investment possible, using your company capital in the most efficient way.
- Breaking Language Barriers
There is always a language barrier to be crossed in e-Commerce. The world is a global village now and the divide between individuals from different ethnic backgrounds is no longer great. Even so, it will take a while for technological progress to completely overcome the language barrier. This is one of the most direct advantages of outsourcing customer support.
When you outsource customer care and support, you essentially place a bridge to close the gap of languages. In fact, having an effective freelancer customer support unit could very well be the key to expanding your e-Commerce business to new areas.
- Endless Possibilities
There are endless possibilities with the employment of freelancers from distant lands and cultures. In this context, there is both a global and local matter of scaling. The first indicates that you could reach—and use—a larger pool of skillful individuals. The second indicates the possibility of these individuals leveraging their native grasp of interaction and negotiation to impress and win over new customers for you.
Cons of Outsourcing Customer Service
There are also several disadvantages that are tied to the employment of freelancers for customer support.
- High Risk of Security Breach
The biggest negative with outsourcing your customer support unit is the high risk of a security breach. This breach might not be much, in the grand scheme of things. However, in e-Commerce where data is the lifeblood of transactions, it is everything.
When you outsource your customer support department, you essentially hand over the details of your clients to the freelancer. This is not a problem with reliable freelancers. However, if you happen to fall into the hands of business-spy-for-hire agents, your company could lose a large chunk of its secrets, including your operations, target market, etc.
- Conspicuous Knowledge Gaps
Customers are not stupid people. They usually know when someone knows what they are talking about. The thing with hired freelancers working the phone lines is that they cannot compare with how your original staff understands your company. This difference can throw a wrench in your business operations.
Assuming that your customers do not immediately recognize the discrepancy, a gap in knowledge could slow things down by a lot. Workflow efficiency could take a hit, not to mention overall productivity. Of course, this is only the case when you hire a freelancer who does not take the time to integrate themselves with the company, learning everything they need to know in the process. Even so, there will always be a gap, however minuscule.
- High Risk of Customer Dissatisfaction
Let’s say your customers realize that they have been chatting with a hired freelancer who knows less than expected. The odds of your customers pumping their fists into the air in excitement is terrifyingly small. Infinitesimal, even. The natural aftermath is dissatisfaction. Your customers will likely be disappointed with both the hired and the hirer.
Customer dissatisfaction is not good for any business, especially e-Commerce where feedback is a defining characteristic. So, as earlier highlighted, your productivity ratings could take a hit due to your decision to outsource a customer service unit.
- Laissez-Faire Attitudes
Very few—if any—hired freelancers care enough about your business to go the extra mile. The motivation of their employment, as is often the case, is money. Unlike your on-site employees, outsourced staff does not have only your company to worry about. Think about it: what if they are running an outsourcing agency? Do you still think they will tire themselves out in pursuit of your goals?
Of course, this does not rule out the possibility of very diligent and very committed freelancers, only the commonness. Moreover, handling customers remotely is a chore in itself, which could quickly become a mind-numbing experience. What would the average freelancer who is only after your money do then?
So, these are the pros and cons of hiring freelance customer support agents for your e-Commerce business. You can use these points to your advantage, should you choose to employ them. As long as you have weighed each point in relation to what your business needs at the moment, you should be fine.