Being a business owner requires sound decision-making. It is only natural for you to want nothing but the best for your business and to always go for quality when you can. But you can only wish that it was that simple because quality means cost and that’s something you also need to consider.
It’s a never-ending dilemma in a business owner’s life. You want to take your business to the next level but you also want to save money at the same time. You want to spend money for what you believe is top-quality, but you are hesitant to shell out more cash.
None of this can be more true when it comes to the topic of outsourcing. You’ve seen companies do this where customer service is outsourced somewhere overseas so they can lower costs and deliver savings among others.
It has become a trend over the years, and seeing the majority of the companies you know do this makes you want to dip your foot into the water too. After all, is there a business owner who doesn’t want to minimize cost? The only problem tough, is that you’re not sure if it’s the right idea and if it will work in your case. You’re afraid that jumping on the outsourcing bandwagon may hurt your brand.
That is understandable. As much as you would like to take risks, you still want to be able to make calculated ones because it can lead to huge losses if it doesn’t work. Below are some of the pros and cons of outsourcing customer service overseas to freelancers that can help you come to a decision.
It’s the primary reason why you’re doing it, the same as other companies. When you outsource customer service to a freelancer from another part of the world, you don’t have to spend a significant amount to run it locally, saving you money on operational, overhead, infrastructure and labor costs. It also means less headaches for you because you don’t have to pay annual salaries, paid sick leaves, and taxes.
A freelancer’s income depends a lot on the hours they spend working. More work means more money, which is enough to motivate them to perform at the highest level. As an added bonus, the exchange rates for other countries’ currencies against the dollar are usually good, so paying someone in dollars is attractive. They use their own equipment and internet connection, too, so you do not have to shoulder the cost for them.
Variety of Skillsets
It’s always a joy to have more options in just about everything in life. This is exactly what you’re getting when you outsource to freelancers because it’s like being in front of a buffet table. You’ve got a wide range of skill sets to choose from depending on your needs. And yes, there are freelancers available for even the most unique or mundane tasks you may ever have.
Building a business requires a lot of different skills that will cost you more if you hire locally. In the case of customer service, you’ll be needing agents, managers, or a QA specialist for that matter. You can get all of those covered with the pile of global talent waiting to be hired.
Pay them when you need them
Freelancers work on a per-hour or per-project basis, which can be long-term or one-time depending on your needs. This is a really huge advantage for you because you don’t have to carry the burden of paying regular workers even when business is slow. Customer inquiries are high during peak seasons, which may require a bigger workforce. The beauty of outsourcing is you can always hire additional workers when you need them.
In the same way, you don’t need a large number of workers during off-peak season, so you can just hire a certain number of people to work during these times, saving you money in the process.
They get things done
Most freelancers work part-time on smaller projects, which means more work equals more money. This works for you as a business owner because you don’t have to force people to render overtime or take in more work.
If you need people on weekends or holidays, most freelancers would be glad to volunteer. This may be difficult to accomplish when you work with local hires because they have paid leaves they can use that freelancers don’t.
Since they are paid by the hour or work on fixed-price projects, you get your money’s worth in terms of productivity and results delivered, which is good for any business.
Language and cultural differences
Though many overseas workers speak good English, they are not native speakers of the language. At some point, there will be customers who will find this an obstacle, which can affect customer satisfaction. Cultural knowledge and communication skills may also play a big factor in providing quality customer service and can also affect the customer’s perception of the company.
This can also possibly lead to misunderstandings because instructions are at risk of being lost in translation. This is where having a local worker whom you can talk face-to-face with works better than when you outsource customer service somewhere else.
When you outsource customer service overseas, technology plays a big part because this is how you will communicate with people. Successful communication relies on internet connection and hardware specifications. If a worker uses a sub-par internet connection and low computer specs, that’s going to be a problem.
Unlike working in an office where you have tech support, freelancers are on their own to troubleshoot in case of technical glitches.
If an overseas worker experiences frequent power outages or internet downtime, that’s going to be a huge disaster. If there are calamities like typhoons or earthquakes in their countries of origin, that would lead to the same scenarios too. These are things you’ll be putting at risk when you outsource, so you have to think of contingency plans to set in motion should these scenarios arise.
One of the risks you will face if you outsource customer service overseas is that you do not have the ability to monitor workers. Apart from working their own hours, the time difference can usually play a factor too. Though you can require them to work on US hours so they can address your customers, there’s not much you can do if for some reason they disappear and fall out of reach. This in turn can lead to a shortage of workers and hurt the business in the process.
If you need to discuss something urgently, you may have to wait a little longer because they are usually asleep when you’re up and vice versa due to the time difference. This can be a hindrance especially when you need to get something done immediately.
Security and confidentiality
If you decide to outsource customer service overseas, one of the major concerns you need to look out for is the possibility of your confidential and sensitive information becoming less secure. The workers you may get from another country may not be subject to the same strict background checks that US-based workers are subjected to.
Though you always have the option to let them sign a non-disclosure agreement, the risk of running into confidentiality issues will always be there.
Though it is an absolute risk to outsource customer service overseas, it is absolutely safe to do so. You just have to make sure that you are getting the best talent so you can get your money’s worth. That is something the FreeeUp system of hiring remote workers helps you to achieve. FreeeUp also saves you time and money by providing you with added benefits.
FreeeUp has a deep roster of talents to choose from. All you need to do is submit a worker request and indicate what you need. Then they can select a few from the pre-vetted network that you’ll be introduced to so you can find the best fit. These workers were vetted through a 4-step interview process which assures you that you are getting the top 1% of online freelancers and the best people for the tasks you need done.
You’ll be introduced to potential candidates so you can set up 15-minute meetings with each of them, helping you determine which one would be the best fit. You simply hire the ones you like or request for a different worker if you think none of the previous workers is not a good fit.
Once hired, you have the ability to manage workers by tracking their hours through the system and setting up communication methods whenever possible like Skype, email, Viber or any other methods you are comfortable with.
You don’t even have to worry if the hours are accurate because your approval is needed before you get billed. Each worker has signed and agreed to accurately bill clients, making sure that you are protected and you’ll be getting your money’s worth.
You don’t even have to worry about turnover because FreeeUp will introduce you to new workers immediately in case a previously hired worker becomes unavailable or if you decide that they are not the right fit.
FreeeUp makes the hiring process and worker management easier for you so it is ABSOLUTELY SAFE to outsource customer service overseas!
Noel Rosos is a personal development writer, motivational speaker, entrepreneur and founder of Life’s How You Live It, a personal development blog dedicated to helping people live the life they’ve always dreamed of. He is also a writer/contributor for Arianna Huffington’s wellness site, Thrive Global. He is an affiliate marketer, a full-time husband and father, and a self-proclaimed FAILUROLOGIST.