Ecommerce looks for ways to make a better customer experience for brands and online shopping. Live chat is a great choice to help customers with product choices, answer customer service questions, get product support, and more. Many ecommerce companies look to outsource their customer service. What is the best way to outsource live chat agents?

Hiring and training internal teams get expensive, fast. When you factor in follow-the-sun service, language support, and critical peak shopping times including Black Friday, how can you keep up with the constant cycle of hiring and training of internal resources? You have to get customer service right. If you give customers a good experience, 69% will recommend you. If you give them a bad experience, 89% will send a referral somewhere else.

Outsourcing live chat can be a great option for some, but be aware of the hazards.

Why use live chat for your website?

Customer Service – The first reason is customer service. Do people need to return an item? Did they receive the item defective?  Are they confused with how to use an item? More than half of online shoppers would prefer to use a website’s online chat than call on the phone.

Pre-sales product inquires – Live chat is a critical function for those who want to create better customer experience for online shopping. Ecommerce professionals know that coupling live chat with the right information at the right time increases the shopping cart size, shortens the sales cycle, and builds a customer experience that keeps shoppers coming back for more.

Reduce support costs – If you plan on using online chat, expect that people will want you to help troubleshoot their product, especially if it’s high tech. Many companies offer email, phone, and chat support. Using live chat for support allows agents to handle several cases at once and shortens resolution times, ultimately increasing customer satisfaction.

Why outsource live chat?

If you are reading this article, you probably already have a good reason for taking live chat to an outside source. Just in case, here are a few

  • Handle peak times – When Black Friday or Cyber Monday hits, how do you handle the exponential increase in traffic? In some industries, businesses can expect to sell 30-40% of their annual revenueduring the holidays. Using an outsourcing company with a flexible workforce would be a good choice. Make sure training is not an issue.
  • Less management hassle – Many ecommerce companies like not having to manage customer service agents. Hiring, firing, training, facilities, and payroll are all outsourced, making it easy and predictable.
  • Professionals/experts on staff – If you get the right outsourcing company, they will hire agents that are already customer service professionals. Or they might find experts on your products and services. Training for either skill could be reduced.
  • Follow-the-sun service – A good outsource company will give you the flexibility of hiring agents to cover the clock 24/7, including adding agents to peak hours.
  • Languages support – Do you do business internationally? You’re going to need to cover all the languages. Outsourcing is a great way to hire in-country chat agents to cover languages needed for worldwide customer support
  • Cheaper – Let’s face it, hiring an outsourcing company could cut costs by nearly two-thirds over hiring internal resources.

Outsourcing hazards

Outsourcing customer service for live chat is not always easy. Here are some potential hazards:

  • Less control, especially over quality – It’s your brand. You want to make sure you have the highest quality experience for your customers. Outsourcing your customer representatives may not get you the quality you desire. Non-native language, lack of proper training, lack of access to the right information or systems may leave customers cold or downright upset.
  • Training – You are always releasing new products and processes. Not having your outsourced agents in the loop may cause problems. Even though you’ve outsourced much of the work, you still have to stay on top of getting the right information to outsourced agents and giving them the right level of accesses.
  • Less focus on your brand – Many outsourcing companies keep expenses down by using the same agents for several contracts. This puts agents in a situation where they may end up chatting with several different brand’s customers at the same time. This causes them to lose focus on your brand and potentially causing issues with customer service.
  • You can’t fake culture – Even though outsourcing companies work to duplicate the culture of your company, it becomes very difficult for them to adopt your culture. If you value customer service, you’re going to have to pay the expense of an internal team or work hard to get the external company to adopt the culture.

Recommendations for outsourcing live chat

There are so many live chat solutions for your website. Every CRM now includes one or has an add-on option. You can get live chat for very little monthly cost. The expense comes from having to support live chat with live agents, which is a reason why companies look to outsource. The right outsourcing strategy could cut costs by 75%.

Live chat works to cut the sales cycle shorter. When looking for product information, how many websites do you visit? Is it the right size? Is it good quality or a knock-off from China? How does it feel, ride, or drive? Is it the best I can get for my money or is there something better? Many of these answers could be found in a website, but wouldn’t it be nice to ask someone that has actually used the product or is an expert in that area?

If you Google “outsourcing live chat” or “outsourcing customer service,” there are a myriad of companies that all handle your needs in a traditional “hire for the position” type way. I want to propose something different.

Needle takes your best customers and turns them into your best salespeople or customer service reps. These advocates already know and are fanatical about your products. Many of them are already very vocal on social media and blogs talking about your brand.

Why not use them to talk to new and existing customers for online websites. You get the benefits of outsourcing and avoid the drawbacks. If I piqued your interest, check out Needle.

They find, train, and schedule chat agents who are already amazing advocates. Now live chat is powered by strong advocates of your brand who are passionate about giving out good advice and product recommendations.


About The Author

Jordan K Pusey is a contributing blogger who brings 20 years of high-tech industry experience to the table. During his tenure, he has worked in IT, systems management, security, IT infrastructure, software sales/marketing, website creation, and online digital marketing. Jordan uses his extensive background in high tech marketing to provide advice and best practices, showing online companies how to attract customers for rapid growth. He's also an avid mountain biker, drummer, skier, and father of three amazing kids.