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Delivering customer service with a WOW factor – the case for outsourcing

Delivering customer service with a WOW factor – the case for outsourcing

Simon Burlison of Moneypenny makes the case for outsourcing customer care in the franchise sector

Outsourcing important business functions to attract cost savings, leverage expertise and gain a greater competitive advantage is a common part of business management – so why have some franchises been reticent to outsource aspects of customer service until now? And how can they make sure it is on-brand when they do?

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Traditionally, the biggest motivators for outsourcing have always been related to securing cost-savings or a requirement for a particular skill set, however, now there’s an acceptance that outsourcing is more than that – it enables innovation and collaboration with a view to improving business functions and even integrating new products and services.

Outsourcing used to be a dirty word, but its image has changed. It now refers to agile partnerships, where strategic relationships help businesses, in particular, franchises, to address their challenges, add value to their franchisees and take advantage of new services, technologies and thinking they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.  This is particularly true of the field we operate in, with telephone answering and live chat services, and it means we can offer franchisors and their franchisees artificial intelligence-powered solutions to help them get ahead.

Much of this shift in attitude towards outsourcing can be attributed to changing consumer behaviour. The impact of continually-evolving new technologies, heightened levels of choice and a 24/7 “always on” mentality have made it crucial for the franchise sector to rethink how it delivers value and meets customers’ needs. 

Research shows that 86 per cent of customers would pay up to 25 per cent more for a better customer service experience, and by 2020, customer service will have overtaken product and price as a key differentiator. Today’s customers are typically well-informed, demanding, and without brand loyalty, and it is why customer care is coming to the fore as a business-critical discipline worth outsourcing.

Outsourcing presents a huge opportunity for franchises and the benefits are clear:

1. Meet customers’ needs and expectations
In a 24/7 age, customers are not limited by traditional working hours and will research and reach out to potential suppliers at all times of the day and night. They know what they want and if they don’t get it, will keep searching until they find a business that can deliver. Outsourcing call handling and live chat mean that franchisees can meet these demands without the overheads associated with extra staffing and critically, never miss a lead.

2. Quality, professionalism and consistency
Tardy responses to phone calls are among customers’ regular gripes and it can cost the success of a franchise. Outsourcing customer care guarantees consistency and a high quality experience, smoothing out the bumps that occur when people are busy. Most UK businesses underestimate the number of calls they miss by 30 per cent and wrongly believe that voicemail will provide the back-up they need during busy times. In fact, according to Moneypenny’s legal intelligence insights 2018, 69 per cent of callers choose to hang up rather than leave a voicemail message. Missed calls cost goodwill and business.

3. Make your website presence works harder
A well-timed live chat pop-up can help to turn website visitors into potential customers at any hour of the day. Outsourcing live chat makes it easy to provide 24/7 customer care, meet changing consumer demands and make your website work harder – without the implications and impracticalities of trying to do this in-house. And a huge 38 per cent of chats generate a new enquiry.

4. Flexibility and agility
Outsourcing doesn’t have to be an all or nothing option. Finding a partner that offers overflow support or a resource which you can turn on and off as your needs flex, is a huge part of the value of having an outsourced solution. It also provides a means for smaller franchisors and franchisees to use tech-led services such as AI-powered telephony that would normally be outside their reach, which creates even greater organisational agility and competitive advantage.

Ensuring a positive partnership
Building a successful partnership with an outsourced partner starts with agreeing to the parameters of the relationship, which should include identifying business challenges that need to be addressed, what success looks like and the breadth of services and support required. It’s also helpful to clarify the brand tone of voice and customer care commitments upfront so that a clear brief and day-to-day operating manual can be agreed.

In addition, you should look for a partner which can demonstrate a real understanding of your business and sector. Excellent customer care relies on a true understanding of customers’ needs and can work as a seamless extension of your team – already familiar with the terminology, customer questions and the need for efficiency and professionalism.

For customer care in particular, telephone answering, live chat and switchboard services support franchises on the front line – shaping first impressions, engaging clients, bringing brand values to life and importantly, capturing enquiries and increasing the likelihood of repeat business or a good review.

Whether you call it outsourcing or a strategic partnership, the business value of outsourcing is clear - it represents a huge opportunity for the franchise sector.

The Author
Simon Burlison is business manager at Moneypenny, which provides telephone answering and live chat support to hundreds of franchises across the UK.

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