Have you been mulling over the idea of outsourcing some of the administrative responsibilities in your business? From virtual receptionist service to sales and marketing support, there are a variety of spots where an answering service or call center can help your business to become more profitable.
With over 60 years of experience in the answering industry, we thought that we could give you some valuable insight into this topic. Before you move forward, it’s imperative to compare the pros and cons of outsourcing your calls/ communications. And, equally important to understand the affect outsourcing can have on your company in order to confront challenges that you may encounter before they happen.
Advantages Of Outsourcing
Knowing the benefits of outsourcing will help you decide if this is something that will work for your business. Here are five reasons to give it a try:
- You Don’t Have to Hire or Train More Employees
When you outsource, you can pay your help as a contractor. This allows you to avoid bringing an employee into the company, which saves you money on benefits and training. And, it also allows you to capitalize on your time by allowing you to avoid adding management duties associated with an in-house employee to your daily tasks.
- Access to a More Diverse Talent Pool
When hiring an employee, you may only have access to a small, local talent pool. This could mean you have to compromise. Many companies have found that outsourcing gives them access to talent in other parts of the country. If you need specialized help, it often makes sense to expand your search.
- Lower Labor Cost
Did you know there are approximately 300,000 jobs outsourced by the United States each year? Every company has its own reason for doing this, with many chasing lower labor costs. You don’t want to trade quality for price, but outsourcing often allows you to get the best of both worlds. By searching a larger talent pool, it’s easier to find the right balance between talent and price.
- Manage Fluctuating Call Volume
You’re on the phone with a client and your line two beeps. Another important client is on the line. You want to be polite, but missing client #2 and having them call back is not excellent customer service. What happens when lines three, four and five ring?
Answering services can manage fluctuating call volume through automated call distribution, dedicated staffing, and professional training on multiple call handling, scripting, and escalation.
- Flexibility For Your Staff
Many office managers feel overwhelmed with the growing laundry list of tasks and responsibilities they have do perform. Clerical functions like answering the phone quickly get pushed down the list as something that is urgent but often not as important as communicating job expectations; planning, monitoring, and appraising job results; coaching, counseling, and disciplining employees; and making you’re your office’s systems, policies, procedures, are running smoothly.
Cons Of Outsourcing
Even though there are obvious benefits to outsourcing your communications, we urge you to carefully also consider the cons.
- Lack Of Control
Although you can provide direction about the scope of the work, you give up some control when you outsource labor, especially when outsourcing to someone with more knowledge about the matter than you have.
There are several reasons for this, including the fact that you are hiring a vendor instead of an employee. Not working on-site can add to the difficulty of maintaining the level of control you desire.
Expert Tip: Open communication is the key here. Defining the scope of work, understanding the full capabilities of your service, and ensuring that they will partner with you to make adjustments as your needs change will put you in a position to succeed.
- Communication Issues
Communication issues don’t have to be nuanced to impact your bottom line. There are several other considerations when it comes to communication that you must consider when choosing to outsource your answering service.
- What time zone does your account manager live in and how does this match up with your business hours?
- What is your preferred method of communication? Phone, email, instant messaging?
- Does the person have access to your account information?
According to Agent 99, a booming public relations firm, communication is essential to success in the business world. Since a large number of U.S.-based employees report not being engaged at work, communication remains a major problem. Will this get worse if you outsource?
Expert Tip: Be curious. If location is a concern, find out if your potential partner has other clients in your area, and ask if you can contact them for a reference. Or have them walk you through their process to adjust for the time differences. Also, as stated in con #1, you need to be able to communicate exactly what you need your answering partner to have maximum fluidity between your joint operations. And, more importantly, find out if they can accommodate.
- Problems With Quality
Despite all the benefits of outsourcing your office’s communications, it is only a good thing if you’re receiving the quality you expect. Anything less than this will be a disappointment and a waste of money.
Expert tip: This isn’t to say you can’t successfully outsource tasks, but you need to discuss the expected quality upfront.Understand how your answering service partner judges quality. Are they in line with your expectations? Do they have quality assurance programs in place? Ask to see their Key Performance Metrics for the last week, month, quarter, and year. Here are some KPIS you should know before selecting an answering service.
- Negative Impact On Employee Morale/Company Culture
As a business owner, it’s your job to see the big picture and tie results to your vision for your company. If you plan on outsourcing, you need to take steps to ensure that it doesn’t have a negative impact on the company culture you have worked so hard to build and protect.
A positive work culture leads to a higher level of productivity, so you don’t want to do anything to jeopardize this. These are the two most common ways that outsourcing can negatively affect company culture:
- Employees may feel as though they are being replaced.
- It will disrupt/change the workflow of the company which can cause confusion.
Outsourcing doesn’t always have a negative impact on company culture, but it is wise to protect against any misunderstandings or confusion before it happens.
Expert tip: Outsourcing doesn’t always have a negative impact on company culture, but it is wise to protect against any misunderstandings or confusion before they occur. Hold a brown bag lunch or town hall meeting with your team and explain your reasoning for wanting to outsource. This typically means discussing your decision with any employees who could be impacted. Allowing them to ask questions and laying out the plan will keep everyone on the same page and clicking when you do decide to make the change.
As you can see there are many pros and cons to outsourcing your calls, all of which you should carefully consider before deciding for or against this strategy. With the ability to directly affect your bottom line, this certainly isn’t something to take lightly.