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What is Virtual Customer Service?

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Virtual customer service helps companies perform customer service remotely, either by work-from-home employees, or via a third party provider. There are certain pros and cons to this business model that one should know about before committing.

Virtual customer service meaning

A virtual customer service 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”. Customer chat, email messages, phone calls and social media DMs are commonly used formats of communications

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, we hope to help you overcome some of the misconceptions and answer some common questions surrounding this business 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 virtual customer service 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 expensive and needs to be updated regularly. With a virtual solution like this, 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. Even things that seem very simple such as email and other communication methods can be expensive to maintain when accounting for enterprise-level security, backups and other things that aren’t always obvious.

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 and employing managers and an organizational structure to support these agents and operators. Traditional call centers (ie BPOs), however, have varying labor costs that can be hard to detect.

Am I locked into a fixed number of agents or operators?

Flexibility is baked into on-demand 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 stored in messages and databases with private information. 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. Fast internet service providers in the US and modern laptops and computers allow many people to work from home with the same ability as if they were sitting in an office.

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

Yes, and yes, virtual customer service relies on delivering a customer experience that is solid, and ideally, even better than an in-house alternative. Good virtual customer service providers rely 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. Remember that virtual agents also want to remain hired and not have to go find a recruiter–their employment depends on their patience and overall performance.

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 messages, or who want to better handle their email backlog
  • 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
  • A company wants to expand their total addressable market or look into new business opportunities