An Offshore Call Center is Worth It, But Not For Savings
An offshore call center is a company dedicated to making and receiving calls on behalf of another business that’s located in a different country. While offshore call centers have received their share of bad press in the past few decades, they’ve made considerable improvements and there are now a number of good reasons to partner with one for your business.
While many business owners focus purely on cost when it comes to deciding what type of call center to go with, the potential savings from cheaper foreign labor isn’t the only reason you should consider an offshore call center.
Offshore Call Centers Support a Diverse Customer Base
What most people fail to think about when it comes to offshore call centers is that they can help your business serve a much more diverse customer base than it might otherwise be able to.
The U.S. population, for example, is far more diverse than it was just 10 years ago. According to the Census Bureau, the multiracial population increased by 276%, and the category of people who do not identify as white, black, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, or American Indian increased by 129%.
This increase in diversity is almost certainly reflected in your customer base. Thus, if you want to remain competitive and give your customers the level of customer service they expect, you’ll need to start accounting for these demographic changes.
That’s where offshore call centers come in, because they tend to add a mix of multinational and multilingual representatives to your extended support staff. Naturally, having a diverse support team in place can increase your customer satisfaction rates, since many people will feel a deeper connection when they speak to someone they can relate to—so it’s like the company understands them better.
On the flip side, you could also be losing customers if you cannot meet them where they’re at while other companies can. This is especially important in sales and customer service, as agents tend to perform better when they create strong relationships with customers. While it’s absolutely possible to bridge the gaps between races and cultures no matter who your company’s representatives are, having a team that is more similar to your customer base can make everything a lot simpler and avoid potential misunderstandings.
Another practical benefit of offshore call center services is that their agents are more likely to have some cultural commonalities with your customers. This is particularly important in high-stakes or highly emotional situations, where the potential for misunderstanding is much higher, and the consequences for those misunderstandings are generally more severe.
While cultural norms can be taught, culture in general is pretty high-context—meaning there’s a lot of unwritten rules you wouldn’t typically know or guess unless you’re a part of that culture. Of course, you could always spend the time, energy, and money making sure that your agents are trained to be aware of as many cultural norms as possible, or you could just let a highly experienced offshore call center handle things.
All things considered, then, it’s pretty clear that many of the things that used to inspire criticism against offshore call centers are the exact same things that are now giving them an advantage.
Choose An Offshore Call Center Where Your Customers Reside
If you really want to enjoy the maximum benefits of an offshore call center, try to find a call center in the country where the largest chunk of your foreign customers reside. This is a great way to boost customer satisfaction rates, as those customers will have an instant sense of familiarity with the person on the other end of the call.
The best way to do this is to start by reviewing your demographic data and call records to see if you can find out where most of your non-domestic customers are from. You can also gather this data by taking a look at shipping receipts and the country codes of the phone numbers your customers are using to call your support lines. You can even review your web traffic to see where people are visiting your website from.
Once you’ve got this information, look up offshore call centers in those countries to see what kinds of packages they offer and what kind of reputation they have. Some offshore call centers will even specialize in providing culturally-informed service, so make sure to look for those.
Next, narrow down your options and get in touch with the managers of the call centers you’re interested in to ensure that you find one that can meet your company’s needs and expectations. After you’ve got a relationship set up, see what happens if you start routing certain customers to your new offshore call center—and keep in mind that this is a great chance to use an Interactive Voice Recognition system to let people navigate an automated menu, ultimately routing themselves to the right department or to an agent that speaks their native language.
Finally, remember to track the results. Request regular metrics and reports from the call center so you can see if the change is actually improving your customer satisfaction rates. It may take a few weeks—or even a few tries with different call centers—to find the success you’re looking for but with a little patience and effort, you’ll be able to create a call center setup that makes life easier for you, your representatives, and your customers.