Taking care of business ultimately means taking care of both your customers and your profits. If you can make people happy while also generating a healthy profit margin, you’ll be just fine. Of course, one of the big challenges is that it almost always costs more to care more. Customer service and profit margins don’t always walk hand in hand, so if you try to increase one, it can often drive down the other. As your high-school math teacher would have said, customer care and profit margins are inversely proportional.
That’s an oversimplification, of course, since increased customer service levels should actually lead to increased customer satisfaction ratings, which will in turn lead to more business and, eventually, higher profits. But there’s no denying that more money has to be invested in the first step well before the rewards are seen at the end. As a result, customer service investments such as call centers are often treated as cost centers rather than profit centers, and many companies have done whatever they could to drive those costs lower and lower. Hours of service were reduced. Staff training was cut back. Phone numbers were made less visible, and users were instead directed to Internet sites with prepackaged Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). And in the case of many larger companies, North American call centers were shut down, with the work being outsourced instead to some far-flung location.
Saving too much can cost you your customers
In theory, none of these actions are necessarily bad ideas; virtually any operation will have areas where savings can be made if things are properly assessed. But of course, there comes a point where cutting too much will result in reduced performance… and in return reduced customer satisfaction. And so begins the downward spiral.
We have all been on the receiving end of this slide when we as customers call a company we’ve trusted for years, but instead of getting the friendly voices we’ve always heard in an American call center or Canadian call center, we get the frustration of dealing with an operator we can hardly understand. Instead of customer service, we are suddenly dealing with customer irritation, customer agitation, and if things get bad enough, customer migration. In many situations, most of us as customers would rather switch than fight, and before long the savings that the company thought they’d see by turning to an offshore call center are a lot harder to find.
American call centers and Canadian call centers
Does this mean that outsourcing is a bad idea? Not at all. It simply means that outsourcing at the expense of customer satisfaction is. Call center outsourcing can work, and work very well, but it requires you to find a center that will maintain or improve your level of service while reducing your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). After carefully considering the pros and cons of offshore vs. nearshore outsourcing, many companies are finding that American call centers and Canadian call centers can meet the service levels as well as their budgets. Their agents are likely to speak the same languages, know the same cultural intricacies, and operate in the same or similar time zones as your clients. Yes, as with any kind of service provider, there are good ones and bad ones out there, but with proper care and diligence, you’ll find one that matches your needs and budget. (If you’re having trouble or need a great call center quickly, talk to us; we work hard to deliver exceptional customer service at very attractive price levels.)
The customer service tightrope
We’ve all marveled at one time or another at circus acrobats and tightrope walkers who risk their lives high above, performing amazing stunts while balanced perilously. They’re always one false step away from certain death, or at least serious injury. While it can be fun to watch, it’s no fun at all to work that way. We want stability, dependability, and one very big, strong safety net if something goes wrong. Strategically outsourcing to a nearshore call center in the United States or Canada can help create that safe environment for you, your business, and your customers. More than you may have realized, a nearshore solution can provide substantially improved service and much tighter budget controls. It’s a combination that many managers have longed to find for far too long. It’s a combination that may prove to be right in your own back yard.