What is Virtual Customer Service?

benefits of live chat in customer service

Virtual customer service (VCS) has freed companies from the expense and commitment of an in-house contact center. However, there are a lot of myths about how it works and its full benefits. 

Virtual customer service meaning

A VCS solution provides businesses with a complete support team from agents to management. This team is housed outside of the business but is trained in the company’s products and brand to deliver a level of service customers cannot differentiate from the “real thing”. 

While virtual customer care is seen by some as a magic bullet for solving their support problems, for others it is a misunderstood option that they fear will cost a lot and take away control over their support. In this article, I will help readers overcome some of the misconceptions and answer some common questions surrounding this important care option.   

Frequently asked questions:

Can’t I just hire the best people to create my in-house team?

Quality customer service professionals are in high demand and have valuable skills. Customer service jobs are hard to fill, agents are often already gainfully employed and expensive to hire. Candidates with good skills for the job will have lots of job offers. Using a VCS provider gives you access to a whole team of highly trained professionals, without having to hire them for open jobs on a full-time basis. 

Overall turnover averages for customer service jobs in the call center industry range between 30–45% monthly

Do I have to pay for contact center technology?

No. Contact center software, technology, and equipment is extremely expensive and needs to be updated all the time. With VCS, you get access to the newest and best version of all of the essentials, without having to foot the bill for purchasing and continuously upgrading them to meet demand. 

What are the labor cost comparisons?

Operating an in-house care team comes with high fixed salaries and benefits. By partnering with an on-demand, virtual-based contact center service provider, you get access to a full-time team of high-caliber agents, without the expense of permanently employing them. Traditionl call centers (ie BPOs), however, have varying labor costs that can be hard to detect.

Am I locked into a fixed number of agents?

Flexibility is baked into on-demand VCS models such as Simplr’s Human Cloud. Employers can automatically scale the number of active agents up or down as needed to meet demand, at no additional expense. This ensures employers have all their jobs filled and are staffed year-round with high-quality agents (as opposed to having to rely upon lower-cost, inexperienced temps during busy times). Traditional call centers often miss the mark here, and can be inflexible when it comes to lock periods and contracts.

Is a virtual contact center secure?

All businesses today operate with a heightened risk from cyberattacks, which requires extra vigilance for the safety of customer data. Security is costly, requiring continuously updated hardware and software and crack IT pros work around the clock to prevent security breaches. With a virtual customer service provider, you’ll automatically enjoy the latest and greatest in data and physical security precautions as part of your contract.

Virtual customer service is all off-shore, right?

Again, not true. While some international companies chose an offshore option to maintain 24/7 service, most companies are free to select virtual service in the United States and Canada. With the virtual customer service model you get efficient and high-quality onshore service that eliminates the possibility of culture clashes that too often go hand-in-hand with offshore solutions.

Do virtual agents really care about satisfaction on a customer service call?

Yes, and yes, virtual customer service relies on delivering a customer experience that is as good, if not better than an in-house alternative. Good virtual customer service providers live or die on their CSAT scores and have rigorous testing and measuring in place to ensure they hit the metrics for customer success. Of course, there are many other metrics to consider, such as conversion rates, to offer more value to your business.

Is my customer data protected?

Of course. Outsourcing your customer care needs to a virtual service provider means having an offsite data backup plan automatically in place. It also means you can rely on a network of customer service agents located throughout the country, eliminating your operational susceptibility to regional disruptions.

The uses of virtual customer service

  • Businesses with not enough employees to meet demand
  • Employers bringing on new technology, like live chat
  • Businesses who need to scale and maintain current processes
  • Care teams that need to quickly add more languages to offer new services
  • A company that needs a higher standard of agent supervision