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Avoid These 4 Mistakes When Your Small Business Outsources Customer Service

Avoid These 4 Mistakes When Your Small Business Outsources Customer Service

Table of Content

A staggering 70% of small businesses outsource a task, and customer service is at the top of the list, according to a study by Clutch. You're part of that trend, taking a step to streamline your operations and potentially boost your bottom line.

But, outsourcing isn't a set-it-and-forget-it affair; there are pitfalls that can trip you up, affecting your business's reputation and customer relationships.

Stay tuned as we unravel four common mistakes you need to avoid in your outsourcing journey and offer actionable strategies to turn these potential obstacles into stepping stones for success.

Key Takeaways

  • Poor management and inadequate training are common pitfalls in outsourcing customer service.
  • It is important to track performance metrics and establish a scalable quality assurance program when outsourcing customer service.
  • Collaborative planning with the outsourcing provider, examining help desk data trends, and aligning with business goals are crucial for successful outsourcing.
  • Outsourcing customer service can benefit small businesses by saving money, accessing specialized skills, scaling operations, and responding to market demands effectively.

Small Business Customer Service Outsourcing: 4 Pitfalls to Avoid

Avoiding these four common pitfalls – poor management, inadequate training, not tracking performance metrics, and lacking a scalable quality assurance program – can significantly improve your small business's customer service outsourcing experience.

Let's talk about poor management first. It's a common outsourcing mistake, especially for small businesses. You can't just hand off customer service to an outsourcing company and wash your hands of it. You need to stay involved, provide direction, and ensure your company's standards are being met.

Next is inadequate training. Don't assume that the outsourcing company knows everything about your business. They won't unless you train them. Provide thorough, ongoing training so they can effectively represent your brand.

Then, there's the issue of not tracking performance metrics. If you're not monitoring how your outsourced customer service is performing, you're flying blind. Use key performance indicators to keep an eye on things.

Pitfall #1: Failing to Establish a Solid Management Layer

Let's start by tackling the first pitfall, failing to establish a solid management layer, which can doom your outsourcing efforts from the start. When you're navigating the complexities of small business customer service outsourcing, a robust management layer is vital. It's the bridge between your business and your outsourcing partner.

Without a well-structured management layer, your business can quickly lose control over the quality of service being delivered. You also risk miscommunication, which can lead to errors, inefficiencies, and unhappy customers. In contrast, a solid management layer ensures that your business's values, expectations, and standards are clearly communicated and upheld.

Planning is key. Before you start outsourcing, you need to establish who in your team will be responsible for managing the relationship with your outsourcing partner. This could be you, a dedicated manager, or a team, depending on the size and needs of your business.

Solution: Implementing Effective Management Strategies

To effectively manage your outsourcing partnership, regularly analyze trends in help desk data from the past six months to a year to aid in forecasting and planning. This is a fundamental step in implementing effective management strategies for your small business customer service outsourcing.

Start by collaborating with your outsourcing partner's team to create a quality assurance program that fits your business. Establish a scoring rubric with their input to evaluate agent performance. This ensures you're on the same page and helps maintain service quality.

Overcoming language barriers is another critical aspect. Choose partners who can communicate effectively with your customers, as this directly impacts customer satisfaction.

When selecting your outsourcing partner, don't rush. Take your time to research, compare various providers, and evaluate their recruitment process. This ensures they'll find the right fit for you.

Lastly, always understand your contract terms. Review the agreement carefully, especially termination clauses. If there's something unclear, don't hesitate to ask for clarification. Remember, a successful small business customer service outsourcing operation requires an effective management strategy.

Pitfall #2: Neglecting Onboarding and Training Plans

Often, small businesses underestimate the importance of thorough onboarding and effective training plans when outsourcing customer service. The success of your outsourced customer service hinges heavily on how well your support team is prepared to handle your specific business needs. It's not just about hiring an outsourcing company; it's about ensuring they truly understand your business.

Early hires often become trainers for new agents, handle complex tickets, and play a significant role in shaping the service quality. Therefore, neglecting their onboarding and training could lead to a ripple effect of poor service delivery.

When you document workflows and relay vital information to your new team efficiently, you're setting them up to hit the ground running. It's also beneficial to utilize training specialists from the outsourcing company to assist with organizing training materials. This ensures that the support team is well-versed in your business operations.

Furthermore, making onboarding for the outsourced team similar to onboarding your internal agents can lead to smoother integration. This helps the outsourced team feel part of your business culture, resulting in improved customer service delivery. Remember, a well-trained team is a productive team.

Solution: Developing Comprehensive Onboarding and Training Programs

In order to effectively utilize outsourcing for your small business, it's crucial to develop comprehensive onboarding and training programs for the outsourced team. This not only ensures they understand your brand and business objectives, but also equips them to deliver superior customer service.

During the onboarding phase, make sure to document workflows and relay information effectively. It's vital that the outsourced team understands your processes in the same depth as your internal team. This will require detailed procedure descriptions and perhaps even step-by-step guides.

Training is another crucial aspect of business process outsourcing. The initial agents you hire become instrumental in training new agents and handling complex tasks. Therefore, it's critical that they receive thorough training from the beginning. Consider leveraging training specialists from the outsourcing provider to help structure and organize your training materials.

Lastly, aim to make the onboarding experience for the outsourced team as similar as possible to onboarding your internal agents. This will foster a sense of unity and shared purpose, ultimately leading to better performance and customer satisfaction.

Pitfall #3: Overlooking Key Metrics for Performance Evaluation

While you're focusing on training and management, don't forget the importance of tracking key performance metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of your outsourced customer service team. It's crucial to understand metrics such as average handle time and ticket volume. These insights allow you to build an efficient team, accurately assess support needs, and adjust resources accordingly.

Avoid the common pitfall of either overstaffing or understaffing by having a clear understanding of these metrics. Failing to monitor these could result in mismanagement of your outsourcing customer team, affecting your business's overall performance.

The outsourcing (BPO) company you've partnered with should be leveraged to optimize support operations. Remember, outsourcing isn't just about cost reduction but also about optimizing operations based on fluctuating demand. You've outsourced to grow and scale, so use the data available to make informed decisions.

Solution: Tracking and Analyzing Essential Metrics for Success

Now that we've recognized the importance of key metrics, let's explore how analyzing these crucial data points can facilitate success in your outsourced customer service operations.

With small business customer service outsourcing, you're not just hiring a provider, you're entering into a partnership. It's crucial to ensure that your outsourcing provider is meeting and exceeding the targets you've set together.

Start by examining trends in help desk data. This will enable you to plan collaboratively with your outsourcing provider, ensuring alignment with your business goals. Consider consulting with your marketing department to determine projected growth for future planning. This will help keep your outsourced customer service operations scalable and responsive to your changing needs.

Don't overlook the importance of regular forecasting. This ensures that cost, SLA, and quality goals are met consistently. Tools like Help Scout can increase your team's productivity and offer significant cost savings.

Lastly, work closely with your outsourcing provider to establish a scalable quality assurance plan. This will ensure that your outsourced customer service operations maintain the high standards your customers expect, regardless of any changes your business may undergo.

Pitfall #4: Ignoring the Need for a Scalable Quality Assurance Program

Don't fall into the trap of ignoring the need for a scalable quality assurance program in your outsourced customer service operations. This pitfall is often overlooked in small business customer service outsourcing, yet it's crucial for maintaining high-quality service as your company grows.

When you outsource customer service, it's essential to establish a scalable quality assurance program from the onset. This program will ensure consistency in your service quality and help identify and address agent performance issues effectively. Without it, you may face difficulties in maintaining high standards and adapting to fluctuating customer service demands.

Solution: Building a Robust Quality Assurance Framework

To steer clear of these issues and establish a robust quality assurance framework, there are key steps you can take to ensure your outsourced customer service maintains the high standards your growing business needs.

First, you need to establish a scalable quality assurance program. This will help you maintain service standards and identify training needs. You can't expect your call center to deliver top-notch customer support without a proper plan in place.

Next, collaborate with your outsourcing partners to create a strong quality assurance plan tailored to your business needs. This is your opportunity to leverage their expertise and simplify the quality assurance process.

Third, develop a scoring rubric with input from your team. This will ensure you evaluate the performance of your customer support agents effectively.

Use Outsourcing to Propel Your Small Business Forward

Leveraging outsourcing can indeed propel your small business forward. It's crucial to effectively communicate and collaborate with your outsourced agents. Over time, this relationship can evolve into a strategic partnership that benefits your company immensely.

By outsourcing, you can save money and free up your time to focus on core business activities. However, it's not just about cost-cutting. Outsourcing can give your business access to specialized skills and expertise that might be too expensive to develop in-house. It can also help you scale your customer service operations quickly and efficiently, responding to changing market demands with agility.

But remember, not all outsourcing providers are created equal. You need to choose a partner who understands your business, your values, and your customers. Regular communication, clear expectations, and measurable performance metrics are keys to a successful outsourcing relationship.

Can Outsourcing Customer Service Help Wow New Customers for My Small Business?

Outsourcing customer service can be one of the most effective ways to wow new customers for your small business. By partnering with a professional customer service team, you can ensure that every customer interaction is positive and memorable, creating a lasting impression that sets your business apart.


Avoiding these pitfalls can make your customer service outsourcing journey seamless. Prioritize solid management, comprehensive training, performance metrics, and a scalable quality assurance program.

By doing so, you'll not only sidestep potential issues but also harness the full potential of outsourcing.

Remember, it's not just about avoiding mistakes, but grasping opportunities to propel your small business forward.

Keep these tips in mind and you'll be on your way to a successful outsourcing experience.