Written by Dion Jay Tality
Every retailer seeks to boost its sales and grow its business over time. To achieve this goal, prioritize your most important stakeholders—customers. Ensure you offer them quality products and the best customer service experience.
However, as the market and your retail business expand, you need significant staffing and resources to provide customer support. If you lack these crucial assets, engaging in retail and e-commerce customer service outsourcing is a good option.
This page lists all you need to know about outsourcing customer service in retail. Read on to learn before you start outsourcing.
What Is Customer Service Outsourcing in Retail?
Many retail businesses hire third-party service providers to handle their customer service processes. That is how customer service outsourcing works in the retail industry. Retailers delegate the following tasks to their external partners:
- Answering customer questions
- Offering technical support
- Processing and fulfilling orders
- Providing order request status updates
- Managing product returns and refunds
- Handling customer complaints
How Retail Customer Service Outsourcing Works
Here are two ways you can outsource your customer service tasks in retail:
- Outsourcing the entire customer service unit. As a retail business, you partner with a customer service provider to handle all your customer service tasks. For example, your contracted vendor builds a contact center to provide support via phone calls, email, live chat, or social media.
- Outsourcing selects customer service tasks. You can also outsource some customer service tasks and handle the rest in-house. For instance, you create a core customer service team in-house to answer basic inquiries. Still, you entrust technical support or inventory management outsourcing to a third party.
Create a clear service-level agreement (SLA) with your customer service provider in both cases. This contract ensures your vendor meets your business needs and expectations. It also outlines company policies and procedures that the service provider must adhere to, such as customer satisfaction standards.
Impact of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) on the Retail Industry
Customer service outsourcing falls under the BPO sector. What is a business process outsourcing, though? BPO is a business strategy that allows a company to delegate tasks to a third-party service provider instead of handling them in-house.
BPO providers cater to various industries, including the retail and e-commerce sectors. As mentioned above, retail companies outsource customer service, among other functions. But why is there a need to do so?
Zendesk reported that almost 75% of business leaders saw a direct link between customer service and business success. Below are some key statistics validating this point:
- 93% of customers spend more on companies that communicate via their preferred customer service channels.
- 90% of customers spend more on companies providing personalized customer service experiences.
Zendesk also mentioned that customer service teams are no longer impressing customers. Almost 55% of customers think customer service is an afterthought for most companies they interact with. To address this challenge, companies should make customer satisfaction their top priority. Satisfied customers turn into loyal supporters and increase the company’s bottom line.
Outsourcing customer service is a valuable strategy in retail. It helps scale and streamline your customer support processes. By partnering with a reputable BPO company, you enhance customer experience and satisfaction, ultimately boosting profits.
The next section explores more reasons to outsource your retail customer service.
Why Outsource Customer Service for Your Retail Business
Outsourcing customer support comes with several advantages. This business strategy can help you meet the needs of your consumers. Both your business and customers can benefit from outsourcing.
Explore the reasons for outsourcing customer service in retail.
For Your Customers:
1. Offer 24/7 Customer Support
According to Hiver, over 75% of customer service teams now offer after-hours support. As many companies go the extra mile, so should your retail business. Going above and beyond in serving your customers turns them into loyal supporters.
Most BPO companies operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They have agents on shifting schedules to ensure 24/7 availability. If you outsource to a reliable BPO provider, your customers will always be able to reach your business and get help.
2. Reduce Customer Wait Time
SuperOffice found that the average response time for customer service is 12 hours and ten minutes. Their survey also revealed that the fastest is one minute, while the slowest response time is eight days. However, 50% of customers expect businesses to respond within four hours or faster.
Fast response time is one of the key attributes of excellent customer service. Outsource your customer service if you want to reduce customers’ wait time.
If you decide to outsource, though, make sure to set a critical metric for service efficiency. Your customer service representatives should hit this metric, whether it involves answering product inquiries or processing orders.
3. Ensure Product Quality and Safe Delivery
Every retail business aims to deliver quality products to customer’s doorsteps. Customer service is crucial in retail operations, from fulfilling orders to shipping products.
Outsourcing customer service in retail helps guarantee product quality and safety. BPO customer service representatives coordinate with the back-end team to ensure the shipment of the correct goods or items. They also work with couriers to oversee the safety of these products during delivery.
4. Improve Customer Journey
According to the same Hiver report cited above, multichannel support has become the norm. About 60% of customer service teams use more than two communication channels for support. Phone service tops the list at 83%, followed by email (77%) and chat support (43%).
BPO companies offer an omnichannel solution that improves your customers’ journey. For example, customers can order online, call customer service for updates, and receive emails for shipped products. Therefore, consider outsourcing email support, live chat, or call center processes for your retail customer service.
5. Achieve Customer Satisfaction
Happy customers continue to patronize your business and buy your products. Retail companies have one goal: to increase customer satisfaction. However, achieving maximum customer satisfaction is easier said than done. You need a solid customer service team to enhance your customers’ experience and improve their journey.
Outsourcing can help if you partner with the right BPO vendor. Take our case study, for instance. We established an e-commerce inbound customer service for a private equity company. We helped streamline their processes and set metrics (average handle time, customer satisfaction, and first call resolution) to enhance customer experience. After 90 days, we hit a 95% customer satisfaction rate.
For Your Business:
6. Tap Into a Pool of Global Talent
Nine out of ten small businesses planned to outsource tasks in 2022. According to Clutch, these businesses considered outsourcing a strategy for meeting operational objectives. Over 25% of businesses wanted to work with experts by collaborating with domestic or international partners.
That is the beauty of BPO: it allows you to access a pool of global talent. Therefore, consider outsourcing customer service for your retail business to build a robust workforce. Trained and skilled professionals can help your business win new customers and keep old ones.
7. Leverage the Latest Technology
Technology is imperative in today’s business landscape, especially in retail. Digital tools and technologies give companies a competitive edge by optimizing their processes, increasing efficiency, and boosting employee productivity.
Outsourcing is best for leveraging technology because most BPO companies have the latest tools and resources. Partnering with an external vendor gives you access to automation, artificial intelligence, and cloud technology. Whether you outsource data entry services or retail customer service, technology can help scale your business.
8. Access the Global Market
Globalization has paved the way for companies to do business on a larger scale. The retail sector is no exception. The Coca-Cola Company is a perfect example. Outsourcing helped the company expand its market worldwide. Today, it has over 500 soft drink brands outsourced to bottling partners in different countries.
If you operate a growing retail business and plan to expand your market, employ offshoring—outsourcing your customer service to an overseas BPO partner. The BPO provider already operates in the country or market you want to penetrate. This can offer unique insights that make growing your customer base and retail enterprise easier.
9. Prioritize Revenue-generating Tasks
A retail operation involves various processes such as supply chain management, inventory management, actual production, and product shipping. But amid all these tasks, retail companies have one goal: to convert sales and make money.
Focusing on this goal, however, is hard if you have to stay on top of various retail tasks. Instead, outsource non-core functions to a reliable BPO partner so that you can prioritize revenue-generating tasks such as sales and marketing. Retail customer service is a business function you can entrust to a third-party vendor.
10. Boost Sales and Grow Your Business
According to Clutch, almost 20% of small companies planned to outsource to grow their business. This operational objective essentially applies to the retail sector. Retail companies seek to boost their sales and grow their businesses over time.
Outsourcing customer service provides access to a solid crew and innovative technologies for your retail business. These factors help improve your service performance and customer experience, which translates into customer satisfaction and business profits. Your retail business will grow and flourish in time.
How To Outsource Your Retail Store’s Customer Service
Now you have a deeper understanding of customer service outsourcing in retail. Still, hiring and implementing outsourcing services is no walk in the park. You should have a detailed BPO strategy.
Whether you own a boutique shop or run an online wellness store, follow our tips for outsourcing customer service below:
- Study your entire retail operation. You should examine every aspect of your business enterprise to identify areas best for outsourcing. Assess your business model, customer base, products, processes, staff, and resources. This step gives you a clear picture of your retail business, including the customer service you provide.
- Assess customer service areas to outsource. With a holistic understanding of your retail business, you can objectively evaluate your customer service operation. Identify specific tasks you can delegate to a third-party service provider. Is it order processing and fulfillment, product returns and refunds, or customer complaints?
- Find the right outsourcing partner. You have two options for this tip: search online or gather referrals. When you have a list of prospects, factor in their BPO experience, retail specialization, customer service agents, contact center technology, and business reputation. These criteria help you decide which service provider fits your retail business.
- Create an SLA. After selecting a BPO partner, negotiate certain terms and conditions with its team. Develop an SLA that benefits both parties. This contract should include your operational objectives, key performance indicators (KPIs), and customer service agents’ duties and responsibilities.
- Set up your BPO operation. After finalizing the SLA, set up your outsourced customer service operation. Make sure to guide your contracted service provider and offer full support. Give your new contractors the freedom to set up retail customer service and kick-start operations.
- Track your outsourcing progress. Monitor your outsourcing performance when your retail customer service is up and running. Regularly ask for reports from your service provider and review them. Should some areas require improvement, take corrective action. You want to ensure your outsourced customer service goes as smoothly as possible.
The Bottom Line
Every retail business aspires to win new customers and keep existing ones. Most seek to build a community of loyal supporters. To achieve these objectives, you should offer the best customer experience by outsourcing customer service for your retail business.
But when you take this route, follow our crucial tips above and hire the right service provider. Outsourcing to the right BPO company benefits your customers and boosts your retail business.