Every business needs customer service, regardless of the industry you are operating in. It is an important medium of contact that provides understanding between you and the consumers. It’s great if you are the type of store owner who loves talking to your buyers. However, you don’t have the time to spend all day in front of the computer answering emails. This is why you need to outsource ecommerce customer service.
Although many first-time entrepreneurs think it’s more cost-effective to do everything on their own, it is a common mistake for many startups to pass on hiring a freelancer. As a business leader, you have to focus on growing your company. The key to its sustainable development is customer support. When it comes to finding skilled customer care assistants, it’s all about tapping into the growing freelance economy.
This article will serve as your guide on how to outsource ecommerce customer service without running into issues. This includes a checklist of how to organize your customer business process, how to start hiring, and how to manage them moving forward.
Before we dig into that, let us first determine why outsourcing is the right choice for your business. This will answer the most common question of greenhorns in the ecommerce trade – “Is hiring a remote customer specialist worth it?”
In-House VS Outsourced
The financial aspect of starting a business forces owners to take on all the work instead of delegating certain tasks to freelancers. As a company grows, leaders will have to decide on offloading different services to keep the business running. But the decision of where to get help does not come easy.
Customer service, for example, has a huge impact on the survival of an ecommerce company. You are dealing with the most important element of your business and that is the consumers. It is always a debate whether to hire professionals whom you can work within the office, closely or hire someone whom you can work with remotely.
Pros and Cons
With the advancement of technology and the birth of high-speed internet, it is no longer impossible to find highly competent people virtually. However, every business is different. Outsourcing may work for one but not the other. With a comparison of hiring in-house versus offshore, you can decide which strategy is the best for your company.
|Outsourced||– Cost Savings (freelancer rates are lower than in-house professionals)
– Availability (remote contractors can work 24/7 for your business)
– Large Talent Pool (access to a wide selection of skilled freelance professionals from online freelance websites)
|– Lack of Involvement (freelancers work remotely and independently; communication may not be as what you expect it to be)
– Disparity in Business Hours (you may need work done during regular hours and timezones may not line up)
– Lack of Continuity (most remote work is contractual, which can affect your relationship in many ways)
|In-House||– Control Over Work (being hands-on with an assistant can assure quality work)
– Increased Productivity (which is also a product of working with people closely)
– Continuity (strengthens the work culture of your company which can lead to long-term success)
|– High Cost (definitely, you will be paying a higher rate for someone working eight-to-five at your office)
– Overwhelming Work (because you have high control over in-house services, you may tend to overthink processes and end up assigning insignificant tasks)
Most small business owners try to bootstrap their companies and can’t afford to waste time or money. If you are this type of entrepreneur and you try to look at the pros and cons of outsourcing, you will find that the risk of hiring skilled freelancers is less than investing time, talent, and money on an in-house professional.
Benefits of Overseas Talent
Outsourcing talent from another country is a common strategy for ecommerce businesses in order to reduce costs. The freelance market has a global pool of talent that is well within your reach. There are plenty of independent contractors who are just as talented and experienced as professionals in your local area.
Consider countries like the Philippines, India, and China. These 3 countries in Asia have been well received by the outsourcing industry since the start of the new millennium. From small businesses to big companies in western countries, all were surprised by the competency and affordability of their freelance experts.
Think about it. If your business can achieve the same quality of work from an overseas contractor at a cheaper cost, then hiring a freelancer from the Philippines, for example, is in the best interests of your company.
Your How-To Guide in Outsourcing
Since you are now settled to outsource ecommerce customer service, you can start working on your customer service process and start hiring. In this section, you will find a list of guidelines to make sure that outsourcing this aspect of your business will be a smooth process.
Let’s get started!
1. Create your customer service processes
There’s no question that customer service is a key component of your business. Today’s consumers are demanding, and catering to this component of your company can quickly take all your time and energy. Remaining professional requires focus and support, which is why hiring a top-level ecommerce customer service specialist is a smart business move.
Note that before you outsource ecommerce customer service, it is important to have a strong set of customer service policies. This way, you know what you’re looking for in a freelance customer service specialist.
The best way to improve is to ask for feedback. Your ecommerce customer service system should include feedback from customers, tracking areas in which to grow, identifying areas where more is needed, insight on how to improve products and features, and real-time metrics to help improve the customer experience.
You can hire a customer service specialist to manage and respond to all customer inquiries making sure that consumers are happy with their purchase and experience with your company. A customer service expert can also manage your live chat functionality and speak with customers during the busiest times of traffic to your site.
An experienced ecommerce customer service freelancer can also handle all customer phone calls in order to ensure that your users feel prioritized and coming back for more. A customer service expert will help build out your customer service operations and then create onboarding guides for future freelancers.
2. Document how you handle customers
In order to succeed, ecommerce businesses need to build a revenue model around customer service and create a culture that sets themselves apart from the competition.
When you are selling products online, reports are a valuable way to ensure that consumers are experiencing outstanding customer service. Reports can help you view all open tickets, tickets by severity or group, the date the ticket was created, tickets by customer and tickets by type.
As you outsource ecommerce customer service more to keep up with business growth, you can create several pages and tables of content to help customer service representatives navigate to the information they require.
For instance, an easy-to-read FAQ page is recommended to help answer the questions of consumers. Information such as shipping and return policies, international shipping, etc. should be easily found and understood by a representative, and of course, the consumer.
3. Find experienced customer service representatives from the Philippines
The Philippines is a Southeast Asian country that has a continuously growing outsourcing industry. A significant number of US companies have offshored their business processes to the Philippines. The country also has a strong freelance market.
There must be a reason their freelance economy is thriving, right?
This is not impossible to believe if you have heard of how Filipinos work. Their culture prioritizes education that almost the entire population knows how to read and write English. Just like in India and China, Filipino freelancers are equipped with a wide variety of skills, experience, and the right working attitude.
Freelance websites like FreeeUp have numerous customer service experts whom you can hire. These freelancers are experienced in handling customer issues from product questions to shipping problems, returns, and even upselling. They are also adept in engaging with consumers via different communication channels and platforms. Examples are Facebook business pages, Twitter, Instagram, text messages, live chats, emails, and phone calls.
Once you find the right match, you can be assured that they will be committed to making the shopping experience of every one of your customers awesome.
4. Onboard to your processes
You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression. If your customers experience slow, confusing or overwhelming information on your online store, they will likely leave and not return.
Onboarding an expert freelancer in ecommerce customer service operations will help your business grow and thrive. Once you’ve vetted an expert freelancer, you will be able to communicate effectively and directly with your future and returning customers.
The VAs you hire will ensure that your product data stays up-to-date, and will deliver information availability and pricing. Bottom line: customers need easy access to your platform, and expert freelancers will integrate marketing automation (e.g. live chat, in-app messages, emails, and phone calls) to provide an incentive for customers to make a purchase and to keep coming back in the future.
5. Set up daily check-ins and management
As the saying goes, ‘It takes a village.’ One person cannot do it all. Creating an online business is a steep learning curve, and outsourcing for expert advice makes a lot of sense. Coaching a freelancer from a marketplace like FreeeUp is not required as they are already specialized in their skill set.
When you outsource ecommerce customer service to expert overseas freelancers, your business can grow outside of your core expertise. Furthermore, professionalism is a must when running a business. Your company will gain a professional profile with experts at your side.
Nowadays, company culture is not limited by workspaces. When working with freelancers, it is easy to maintain a close-knit work environment with instant messaging, regular check-ins via email and Skype video, and transparent communication.
Until you’ve gained the expertise, winging-it is just bad business. Freelancers are highly skilled in their specific niches, and outsourcing will benefit your business. A strong company culture of remote freelancers creates a cohesive and harmonious workplace for all. A force of freelancers working for your company is ideal for a growing online business.
Where to Find Freelancers
As your business grows, so does your need for more talented individuals to add to your workforce. Finding the right person for the position can be challenging. But the first test of patience for newbies in outsourcing is where to find freelancers.
Thanks to technological innovations, you can now easily find talent through the World Wide Web. Online freelance websites offer businesses of all types and size the opportunity to work with professionals from all over the world.
To outsource ecommerce customer service, you need to look for a website that caters to a specific niche in the business market. For example, FreeeUp is a marketplace that finds and hires the best ecommerce freelancers for you. Through their pre-vetting process, they are able to provide clients with the top 1% of talents in the ecommerce industry. You can find skill sets that specialize in Amazon, digital marketing, customer service, and other skills to help your business grow
Hiring freelancers to optimize your Ecommerce operations is ideal in today’s online culture to help your business thrive.
“FreeeUp has been growing rapidly since its founding in 2015,” says FreeeUp CMO Connor Gillivan. “In its first 3 years, FreeeUp has signed up over 10,000 clients, has received over 100,000 freelance applicants, and seen a 5-fold increase in revenue in 2017 over 2016.”
With freelance Ecommerce customer service experts at your fingertips, outsourcing to help boost the professionalism of your online business makes a lot of sense. One person cannot do it all, and when you free up your time to work on the core goals of your company, success will be imminent.
To find the perfect Ecommerce customer service VAs for your needs, check out FreeeUp.com!
Lailah Paredes is an engineering student, creative entrepreneur, and a self-confessed island girl. As a travel junkie, she loves experiencing different cultures and sharing them through her writing. Read about her travels across the beautiful islands of the Philippines at her blog.