Hiring your first customer service team

Hiring your first customer service team

Getting to the topic of hiring a customer service provider involves a lot of questions, as well as a lot of doubts and uncertainty. This article aims to guide you in your search for a customer service provider whether you’re: (1) looking for your first agent to train; (2) looking to hire an entire team; or (3) looking for an outsourcing provider to do the dirty work for you.

It is common knowledge that a business heavily relies on the satisfaction of its customers. Without satisfied and loyal customers, your business is just another establishment with no direction, no goals, and no purpose. 

This is where learning the importance of quality customer service comes in. It doesn’t matter how excellent your products are. If your customers don’t feel appreciated and cared for, they’re not going to convert into loyal customers. 

The importance of excellent customer service

The quality of a company’s customer service directly and indirectly affects the rest of the business. To enumerate, here’s how providing excellent customer service can affect your business:

The importance of excellent customer service
The importance of excellent customer service

It helps increase revenue

Did you know that 84% of organizations working to improve their customer service report an increase in revenue? Excellent customer service is more directly related to your company’s revenue more than you think.

When your customers are treated well, they will stay loyal to your brand. They will continuously avail your offerings, and will possibly refer their friends and family to your company. Naturally, this will increase your revenue.

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There is also the case of customer retention, which is the company’s ability to retain customers over time. Retaining customers is much easier and less expensive than converting new prospects.  Companies’ best choice to retain customers is to provide personalized and high-quality customer service.

Helps build better reputation and brand image, cultivating interest

We are all consumers, and it’s safe to say that we’ve all had our fair share of terrible and satisfying customer experiences. When a company provides excellent customer service – it could be because of a quick resolution of your concern, your questions are answered efficiently –  the image of the brand and the company it represents suddenly becomes very positive and promising, right?

What businesses need to realize is that building a brand’s reputation does not begin and end with advertising. The amount you spend trying to get exposure through paid ads will surely be gone to waste if customers are not satisfied with your customer service. Since we’re living in the digital age where every customer service mistake you make can go viral on social media, it’s best to safely invest on a dedicated and high-quality customer support team.

After all, a single negative customer experience is the reason 86 per cent of consumers quit doing business with a company.

It encourages word-of-mouth marketing

Word-of-mouth marketing is arguably the most trusted and efficient form of brand advertising there is. Customers will refer their beloved friends and family to your business if they’re truly satisfied with how they were treated. When a certain company has that family member- or friend-approved stamp, people are more likely to trust that review and become paying customers of that business.

Role of a customer service agent

What is the role of a customer service agent?
What is the role of a customer service agent?

Ah, the customer service agent. The person who will become the voice of your brand. They will be the ones to console complaining customers, and the persons who are knowledgeable enough to handle and answer all customer queries efficiently.

Businesses that have invested in a dedicated customer service team will know that hiring efficient agents is not easy. In order to make the hiring process organized and efficient, it’s important to learn the roles and responsibilities that you can delegate to your customer service team. Learning these will also help you manage your expectations and give you a clearer idea on the team that you’re building:

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Handle complaints

In an ideal world, your products and services are so perfect that no one ever calls to complain. Unfortunately, no matter how much we try, we can never please everyone.

Customer service agents handle complaints and calm down irate customers. They know how to maintain a positive and empathetic attitude while communicating towards customers. Customer service agents also take care of the heavy responsibility of ensuring that customers are satisfied with the products and services that they avail.

Keep records and process orders

Customer service agents also perform administrative tasks, like keeping records of customer transactions, comments, suggestions, or complaints. They also keep track of customers’ preferences to ensure that they’re acknowledged and taken care of.

Further, customer service representatives who are tasked with selling products or cold calling also process order forms and applications. They guarantee that customers will receive what they purchased exactly how they want it. Further, the suggestions and feedback that they obtain from customers can be used to improve customer experience.

Respond to inquiries

You should expect your customer service representatives to learn the ins and outs of your company and the products and services that you offer. This is because people consider customer service agents as the “ambassadors” or the “face” of your brand. They are responsible for creating a great impression for your company.

Further, customer service agents are in charge of promptly and effectively answering all your questions and queries – whether it’s through the phone, social media, or through live chat.

The rise of chatbots

There are certain businesses that make use of chatbots to respond to customer’s frequently asked questions. Chatbots are artificial intelligence (AI) software applications that can imitate human natural language through messaging and mobile apps. Usually, corporations utilize chatbots to cater to the customers’ queries and concerns as quickly as possible

It saves a lot of time and effort, yet it can’t be denied that it took away some of the customer service agents’ main responsibilities. 

A couple of years ago, Forbes published a controversial article saying that chatbots are “killing” customer service. However, the same article reported the results of a Global Consumer Service Report that “examined consumer preferences for customer service engagements, specifically chatbot usage,” which revealed that many consumers still prefer human agents to chatbots. 

Chatbots have a quick response time, but they’re not always efficient. In fact, it’s not convenient for people who are unable to speak or hear well enough. This can add to the customers’ frustrations.

AI in the form of chatbots has really come a long way. However, they can never possess the human touch, warmth, and empathy that real customer service agents can provide. While chatbots are quick, they’re not intelligent enough to replace or even compare to the efficiency of human customer service representatives. 

Consumers still prefer human agents than chatbots.
Consumers still prefer human agents than chatbots.

Choosing your customer service representative

Ready to hire a customer service team? Here are the questions you should ask yourself before jumping in:

  • Do you have enough time to train and onboard your new employees? Or would you rather delegate this task?
  • What are the specific duties and responsibilities that you will delegate?
  • What qualities and skills do you require from your employees? Have you set your standards for your outsourced team yet?
  • What hard and soft skills are you looking for in a customer service employee?
  • Are you planning to scale your customer service operations in the future?
  • How much are you willing to spend for every new hire (salary, benefits, overhead costs, and other miscellaneous expenses)?

Listing your answers to these questions will give you a much clearer picture of the hiring process, the day-to-day responsibilities that you’re delegating, as well as the big picture. Once these points are clear, it’s time to determine how you’re going to hire your customer service agents.

Hiring a customer service provider

With planning done, it’s now time to start hiring. Most small to medium-sized business owners really get stuck with choosing whether to directly hire new employees or to outsource them to a trusted business process outsourcing (BPO) company.

Here’s a quick yet comprehensive guide to help you decide whether to pursue in-house hiring or outsourcing:

In-house hiring

What is in-house hiring?
What is in-house hiring?

In-house or direct hiring basically means that your company is internally responsible all throughout the hiring process. You or your company’s own human resources team is in charge of all of the following duties:

  • Headhunting candidates that are possibly qualified for the position;
  • Interviewing applicants;
  • Deliberating and deciding which candidates make the cut;
  • Negotiating and making the chosen candidates agree to your terms;
  • Training the new applicants and making sure they fit your standards;
  • Paying employees on-time, take care of their benefits, taxes, etc.;
  • Providing a conducive work environment (supplying high-end equipment, top-notch internet connection, and highly-effective trainees and supervisors);
  • Other responsibilities that come with hiring new employees.

With in-house hiring, you are fully in control over who represents your brand. However, it can get a little too stressful and overwhelming. It also has a tendency to take too much of your time, effort, and budget. 

Signs you should consider in-house hiring

As you take an introspective look on your company, check if you meet the following signs that says you should consider in-house hiring:

  • You’re willing to commit and provide the necessary equipment, budget, training, team building activities. In addition, you’re willing to commit time and effort needed to build an efficient customer service team.
  • You have already invested in an HR department.
  • You’re looking to hire core employees that will work closely with you as the company grows.

Outsourcing

Offshore outsourcing helps businesses save up to 70% on employment costs.
Offshore outsourcing helps businesses save up to 70% on employment costs.

Outsourcing is a business strategy where companies seek the help of a third party provider to lease skilled resources. Outsourced roles are often back-office related jobs like virtual assistants and data entry clerks. However, since outsourcing has continuously been thriving for the past several years, more and more companies are also outsourcing specialized roles in engineering, healthcare, and architecture sectors.

With outsourcing, your third party provider will take care of all the hiring, training, and management responsibilities. All new employees will be working on the BPO firm’s office. A dedicated supervisor or operations manager will oversee their day-to-day responsibilities and progress.

Offshore outsourcing helps businesses save up to 70% on employment costs. On the other hand, it gives employers less control over their outsourced employees.

Signs you should consider outsourcing

Here are some signs you should look at to see if you should pursue with outsourcing:

  • You want to save money on labor costs, training fees, equipment, and more.
  • There’s a talent gap in your area. Finding an efficient customer service representative is close to impossible.
  • You don’t have time to oversee recruitment.
  • You want to build a diverse company filled with talented and dedicated workforce around the globe.

So, what’s best for your company?

We hope that we have provided you with enough relevant information to help you decide. If you’re in need of genuine help regarding this very crucial business decision, feel free to reach out to an outsourcing expert today.

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