Can customer success be outsourced?

If an affordable customer success helps a local business grow, that means more jobs for everyone, as Wes Burger find out

How many departments of a company can be outsourced? Probably quite a few, and businesses have been testing the waters for the past few years.

We’ve seen that outsourcing customer support or sales can work out great, but what about customer success?

In short – yes, it too can be outsourced. Companies are doing it as we speak.

But what are the repercussions of this? Is it worth it? These are the questions that we’ll be exploring in today’s article. Stick around if you want to learn more about it.

What is customer success?

In case you’re new to the term ‘customer success’, let’s look at what it means.

When selling a product or service, it is reasonable to expect that buyers (customers) will face certain problems when first using it. Customer success is the process of anticipating those problems and equipping the customers with the skills to deal with them as they arise.

A business focused on customer success won’t just sell a product and leave the client to figure out how to use it. Instead, they will proactively guide the customer to ensure they get the maximum value from their product or service.

Since customer success is sometimes confused with customer support, here is the main difference between the two:

  • Customer support is a reactive service. It acts upon the customer’s request and resolves the problem that the client has at that moment.
  • Customer success is a proactive service. It builds a close relationship with the customer and provides advice on how to use the product/service the client bought to maximise return on investment.

Having a good customer success team increases customer retention and loyalty, thus doing the company a lot of good.

Outsourcing customer success

As mentioned earlier, it’s been proven that outsourcing support or sales can have many benefits, especially for growing companies. However, the big question is, should customer success be outsourced, or is an in-house team best for the job?

The dilemma lies in the fact that a customer success team has to have extensive knowledge of their own as well as the clients’ company in order to provide the best service. Some claim that it can only be done well in-ho00use while others beg to differ.

Without a doubt, there are advantages and caveats to outsourcing customer success, and you can read about them below.

The pros

Reduced costs

The number one argument for outsourcing any department or service is cost reduction. It is significantly less expensive than hiring and training an in-house team.

Numerous companies have reported that outsourcing a part of their work brought them significant reductions in costs of operation. As stated in Forbes, American Express claims to save up to $15 million annually this way.

Outsourcing allows companies to decrease the number of in-office desks and pay less for office space. Lower equipment costs usually go hand in hand with this.

On top of that, businesses that hire a workforce from less affluent countries can save a lot of money on salaries.

Omni-channel service

Another beneficial thing about outsourcing is that a company can hire several different customer success teams. Ideally, each team would serve the customers through a different channel (phone, live chat, etc.). This would give the customer the ability to choose their preferred means of communication, which is very important. The happier the customers, the more a business will prosper.

If the need arises for the company to introduce another method (tool) of communication, they could simply hire a team that’s already proficient in it. The alternative would be to train the in-house team to use the new tool, which can be money and time-consuming.

Outsourcing is a faster and more efficient way to build an omni-channel customer success department.

Quicker setup

To continue where the previous point left off, outsourcing is a faster way to organise a customer success team period. It doesn’t matter whether a business needs one, two, or six channels.

The key here is that companies that offer customer success services are trained professionals who already know the ropes. All their employer has to do is get the team acquainted with the business, and it’ll get integrated in no-time.

Compare this to educating and training in-house workers in a field that’s relatively foreign to them. It could take a while until some results can be seen.

Faster problem resolution

Not all problems that clients face can be solved on the go. Some require a bit of time. Here’s an example of how a US-based company uses its outsourced customer success team from India to quickly resolve customer issues.

When a client presents customer success with a tricky problem, the US team sends it to the Indian team at the end of their workday. This is when the workday is just beginning in India, so the employees start working on the solution while North America sleeps.

By the time the Americans are back in the office, the Indians may have already solved the problem. The client gets the solution faster, and everyone is happy.

The only way an in-house team could pull something like this off would be by working three shifts, which would be very expensive for the employer.

The cons

No long-term commitment

One of the primary roles of customer success is to build a long-term relationship with the clients.

As you know, this takes time and effort and may be easier to achieve with a committed and motivated in-house team.

It’s not as simple to find a dedicated outsourced team that’ll stick with a company long term. It isn’t to say the latter is impossible, but just more complicated.

Authority Issues

There’s one more essential advantage of in-house customer success: authority. To clarify, customer success teams have to make certain decisions on their own.

For instance, they offer renewal deals and often make decisions that involve other departments from their company. Sometimes a customer success team is even required to provide the customer with advice that may have a direct impact on their business.

This is no small responsibility to bear. Because of that, the management doesn’t always feel confident about giving this kind of authority to an outsourced department. Of course, this issue could be transversed with proper organisation and communication. At the end of the day, it’s all about finding the right people for the job.

The bottom line

Working with an outsourced customer success team may not be the be-all-end-all solution for your company, but it is worth giving a shot.

Cutting down costs is an integral part of running a business and an important survival strategy in an increasingly competitive market. Outsourcing customer support will not only reduce a company’s overall costs but potentially help it grow.

A recurring argument made by the critics of outsourcing is that companies take their business to cheaper places instead of paying the domestic and possibly more qualified workforce. When talking about big corporations, there is some legitimacy to this reasoning.

However, to startups and small businesses with limited budget, outsourcing customer success isa godsend. If an affordable customer success helps a local business grow, that means more jobs for everyone, right?

Wesley Burger is the Marketing Director at CloudTask, a managed workforce provider for growing companies looking for B2B Sales and Customer Support solutions.

A strategic brand marketer and thought leader with 10+ years of sales and marketing experience managing B2B service brands, and helping companies design products, services, concepts, experiences, and ecosystems.

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