Pros and Cons Of Utilizing A Contact Center For Your Business
When people say contact center, they often use the term interchangeably with call center.
But here’s the thing: they’re not the same.
Call center generally refers to a room full of people answering calls, often offshore. A contact center, in contrast, means a place where agents work through multiple channels—like live chat, social media, and email—to answer customer questions and resolve problems.
The question is, what’s the best choice for you to build your customer relationships?
Deciding how to cultivate that relationship is a key.
For example, do you try to tackle it in-house or outsource to a contact center?
What are the pros and cons of utilizing a contact center?
5 Pros Of Using a Contact Center
“Time and time again, I see brands spending huge sums on driving traffic to their websites through online advertising only to make the assumption that once a customer lands onsite the job is done. There’s still plenty of work to be done once a customer finds their way onto your site,”
Paul Talbot, marketing expert, Forbes.
1. A Contact Center Will Save You A LOT Of Time (And Money)
Contact centers’ and call centers’ primarily business is hiring, training, and managing customer service personnel. Customer service can be a high stress job, and good contact centers work hard to maintain the kind of employee engagement needed to keep service levels high.
Recruiting and managing people who are customer minded, can handle difficult people, can retain information about your product or service, is a full-time business. Adding that business to the e-commerce business could be overwhelming.
So hiring a contact center can save a lot of time and energy.
2. Contact Centers Handle The Complex Tech, So You Don’t Have To
One of the biggest challenges companies and their customer service agents face today is that there is the technology innovation they must manage. In addition to a multitude of IP PBX and IVR networks, CRM software, ticketing software and other tools, there is AI tools now as well designed to map the customer journey, identify customer emotions to recognize when to escalate an issue, track information on products and services, and more.
Additionally, there are many channels now and customers want to use them all. Keeping on top of this is important for every customer-focused company, but actually acquiring, deploying, managing and keeping this omnichannel tech current is a huge expense and requires IT experts. And failing to keep up with technology equates to failing.
3. Contact Centers Handle Your Company’s Customer Service 24/7
As an e-commerce company you’re not competing with another company in your industry, you’re competing with Amazon as well as every e-commerce experience the customer ever had. The best of those are going to provide 24/7 customer service. If you’re not there to answer questions or solve problems when the customer is shopping, they’ll just go someplace else.
There’s no such thing as “come back tomorrow” in e-commerce anymore. So unless you can offer 24/7 customer service and communication on your own, outsourcing your customer communicate to a contact center is likely the best option if you don’t want to miss out on significant after-hour sales.
4. Right-Sizing is Much Easier With Contact Centers
Smart contact centers and IP call centers know how to work with you to schedule the right number of agents for peak demand times, and in peak demand channels. They have the CRM and VOIP software and network in place to scale up during holidays when sales go up, or if the e-commerce client has a sale, or introduces a new product.
This means the e-commerce company doesn’t have to handle management, scheduling, hiring, or layoffs in time for a sale event.
With a solid contact center on your side, you only really need to manage the overall customer service roadmap and let the contact center manage the demand flow.
5. Contact Centers Stay Up To Date With Customer Behaviors
Customer behaviors and tastes change all the time. While some demographics still use voice/phone heavily, however McKinsey predicts that 75 percent of customers will soon use multiple channels.
It’s the job of contact centers to support the latests trends—such as Instagram DMs!
For e-commerce companies, stopping to actually address these omnichannel changes (instead of simply being aware of them) can pull attention from the core business.
5 Cons Of Using A Contact Center
“Customer service is just a day in, day out ongoing, never ending, unremitting, persevering, compassionate, type of activity.”
– Leon Gorman
1. Quality Contact Centers Can Be A Little Pricey
A new contact center or IP call center service will likely cost an additional expense for customer communication. Depending on which contact center you use, you may or may not get what you need for your dollar.
Say, for example, that you only really need a couple of agents available most of the time for the first year of operation, with some additional agents during peak sales times. Contact center SLAs and contracts are often designed for bigger corporations and for lengthy periods, meaning if your company scales fast, your contract may not fit well… ever.
One problem with many contact centers or call centers is they require you to make a big commitment even before you’re sure of the value to your company.
2. Using A Contact Center Can Be Risky With Quality Control
Will your contact center do outbound as well as inbound calling?
Will they be more focused on cost savings and operational efficiency, trying to keep customer interactions brief, than on customer satisfaction and improving metrics on first response times?
How much control will you have over the quality of your customers’ experience?
These days, more and more companies are bringing their customer service onshore to increase quality even if it means increasing initial costs. Treating customer service as an asset and/or investment is becoming the new norm.
Many have replaced the low-cost call centers with low cost AI and chatbots. But that, too, has serious limitations that can leave customers frustrated. When customers can’t make sense of the pre-programmed responses the AI provides, they tend to reach for the most expensive solution: the phone.
And by that time, they’re unhappy.
Companies must be careful to choose an outsourced customer service solution that’s all about appropriate customer communication so this service enhances, rather than damages, their brands.
3. A Lack Of Brand Cohesion & Technical Product Knowledge
A contact center works with a lot of different businesses. So the employees are less likely to be evangelists for your product or service than they would if they were your own employees.
They also probably won’t have the opportunity for depth of understanding of your product. And they won’t be on top of upcoming changes or trends.
That means that if customers contact you with questions or problems, they’re less likely to be able to answer them rapidly than they would if knowing your product was their full-time job. The contact center is providing a service, not fulfilling your mission. That’s a loss.
4. Too Many Levels Of Management Can Slow Things Down
On the one hand, these companies are all about staying ahead of the curve and embracing new technology. On the other, they’re working with the customers of a lot of different companies.
Let’s say your customers tend to be early adopters and they easily move into new channels, but the contact center also works with legacy companies whose customers are wedded to old channels.
Or let’s say the company has begun to use newer channels like live chat or social, but hasn’t really gotten good at it. But that’s where your customers are.
The struggle with working with a contact center is responding to what your customers want in real time and getting the contact center to evolve quickly as well can be a challenge.
5. A Cheap Contact Center May Foster A ‘One Size Fits All’ Approach
Generally, this is a euphemism for “doesn’t fit anybody very well.” Most contact centers do not focus on creating options with different sizes, channels, financial agreements. They are not nimble, and in today’s fast-paced retail and ecommerce world, that is not a small liability.
Businesses Can Have The Best Of Both Worlds
Fortunately, there’s a way to get the best of both worlds. Niche-specific technology companies are replacing the incumbent call centers, and many of them utilize highly-qualified US-based workers.
Simplr is a perfect example of a contact center alternative as it provides razor-sharp 24/7 US-based customer service solutions for high-growth retailers, and are 40-60% more cost effective than in-house operations. Simplr also offers the scalability and affordability without jeopardizing a client’s brand or business strategy.
Simplr's network of on-demand Simplr Specialists can be responding to your businesses's emails, chats, and DMs starting this week, not next month. Click here to get a free quote.