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After years of public disapproval with outsourced services, many big businesses are feeling the need to bring operations back in house.
However, when it comes to outsourcing, there are a great deal of options available to small and large businesses alike that shouldn’t be discounted.
Debunking the outsourcing myths
The idea of outsourcing garners so much negative reaction for two main reasons:
Myth 1: Outsourcing leads to bad customer service
The primary problem people tend to have with outsourcing is that they believe it leads to bad service and, in particular, bad customer service. This stems from a trend in large organisations over the past 20 years or so to outsource much of their call handling to big offshore call centres.
At one point or another we’ve all phoned a company and been put through to an offshore customer service team. There’s often lots of background noise, a lack of product knowledge and obvious script-following. It’s frustrating.
Over time this has led people to expect bad customer service as soon as they know a company uses an offshore call centre. This makes outsourcing a challenge for any business.
Myth 2: Outsourcing is unethical
The second problem a lot of people have with offshoring is they feel it reflects badly on the organisation ethically.
Not only do people often feel that outsourcing offshore shows the company cares more about cutting costs than providing a good service, but if a company shuts a department to send work overseas, this is often seen as completely heartless.
While no business will deliberately do badly by their staff and will always regret any job losses, it can be hard to explain the complex economic factors behind outsourcing. People simply see the emotional headline of more jobs sent overseas.
People in business know that matters are never so straight forward, but it’s easy to see why the wider population can view outsourcing offshore negatively.
Is outsourcing really all that bad?
Some kinds of outsourcing will always be controversial.
When it comes to things like call centres, manufacturing and the public sector, you could easily be led to believe organisations have a moral duty to keep work in-house.
However, businesses outsource other functions on a daily basis.
When it comes to creative services such as art direction, graphic design, marketing campaigns and website development, it’s standard practice for businesses to outsource work to a specialist agency.
Similarly, when it comes to professional services such as accounting and law, it’s deemed perfectly acceptable for businesses to use a third-party provider.
So why are some things okay to outsource and not others?
Often the difference seems to be intent. When it comes to things like customer service and manufacturing, public perception is that organisations outsource because it’s cheaper and they don’t care if the service suffers.
When it comes to creative and professional services, people feel comfortable with outsourcing because they see it as going to a specialist to get the best service.
While it’s true that a good marketing company, design agency or law firm provide a great service, it’s also true that they can be more cost effective than doing those jobs in-house.
The reality is there’s no reason an organisation shouldn’t outsource any aspect of their business if a good quality of service can be maintained.
How can onshoring help?
One of the main offenders in the outsourcing debate has always been the offshore call centre.
However, this doesn’t mean there are no options for UK businesses that want a cost-effective way to manage high call volume.
In recent years there has been significant growth in onshoring. Onshoring is the practice of outsourcing services such as call handling to a dedicated UK service provider.
When companies outsource to a UK provider, they see a number of key benefits:
As the service provider is in the UK, you can be certain they’re compliant with all UK laws, which is especially important when it comes to data protection and HR.
UK service providers typically also provide a high standard of service because working exclusively with other UK businesses means they understand the standards UK customers expect.
As these service providers are specialists they remain cost effective. For example, in a call centre all the management staff, technical staff and even HR staff have one job: to effectively manage the calls of their clients.
This applies to the infrastructure too – everything is focused around doing that one job as efficiently as possible.
This means a specialist can be more cost effective than doing it in-house, while still providing a high standard of service.
As Head of Client Services, Gemma is an expert in the customer service industry. With over 20 years of experience in the call handling process she will guide your organisation to an improved customer service strategy. Hobbies include all thing equestrian.