Outsourcing customer service in the UK – why you should keep it local

If you’re looking to outsource your customer service, you’ll face a number of important decisions. Among the most crucial of them is perhaps whether to keep it in the UK or outsource abroad. Here’s why we think – and the general consensus seems to be – that you should stay within the UK and keep it local.

There are some pretty convincing arguments for outsourcing your customer service to a UK-based company.

The following are typically listed as the top three:

1. Clear communication and fewer misunderstandings

This one’s hardly rocket science. A shared native language and shared cultural nuances make communication a whole lot easier. The importance of this is not to be underestimated: while three in four customers still prefer phone calls over any other form of customer support, inefficiency and miscommunications are among their top concerns.

Can some of this be achieved regardless of the location of the outsourcing company? Sure. In most cases, though, even if the agent passes the language test – and that’s by no means a given – more subtle things like tone and culturally conditioned expectations tend to cause friction sooner or later.

2. Customer satisfaction

This is undoubtedly linked to the point above, but it’s worth emphasising: by keeping your customer service in the UK, you can provide the kind of service that will make your customers feel seen and valued. And customer satisfaction, as you’ll already be aware, is a gift that keeps on giving. A happy customer is a loyal customer, and happy, loyal customers talk. It’s like a marketing campaign you don’t even have to initiate. Why waste the opportunity?

3. Branding and reputation

Customers are savvy – they’ll know when and where you’re trying to scrimp. From a branding perspective, then, keeping your customer service local is as much of a communications piece as the Google ads you create and the social media content you share. What it says about you? We care about our customers. We care about the local economy. We’re committed to providing quality customer support, and we don’t scrimp where it matters.

You’ll probably agree that it seems like a no-brainer, so why doesn’t everyone keep their customer service local? Cost is a huge consideration, but let’s look at the obstacles in some detail:

Limited talent pool

Finding skilled, qualified staff has been a challenge for a long time as the pool of experienced customer service agents in the UK is limited. This means that outsourcing companies have an employer branding challenge on their hands, and not everyone pulls it off. Those that do, though, tend to boast not just qualified staff but happy staff who stay for a long time.

Higher costs

This is perhaps the most obvious one. Generally speaking, the costs involved with employing staff are far higher in the UK than in many other countries that are home to customer service outsourcing companies. The shortage of qualified staff certainly isn’t helping matters, as attracting and keeping good staff requires all sorts of efforts, both in terms of HR costs and perks and with regards to competitive salaries. There’s only one way to look at this, if you ask us: consider what it is you’re investing in, and what difference this might make over time. We’ve written extensively about the real value of good customer service before, so do take a few minutes to read more!

Increasing competition

This is the bigger-picture end result. With costs going up and the talent pool already suboptimal, it’s hard to compete on the market. The current financial situation brings good as well as bad news, if we can be blunt: while energy costs are at an all-time high and financial spreadsheets are looking increasingly gloomy, there are signs that the labour market is beginning to shift in favour of employers, with more people looking for job – especially secure, stable jobs.

What are you going to do? Perhaps start by doing your homework well. Read up on how to succeed with outsourced customer service and what to do to avoid rampant customer service costs. Then do the maths to see if you can afford to keep your support local – or, as we like to put it, if you can afford not to.

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