Around half of customers would switch to a competitor after just one bad customer service experience. Just one. That’s not a lot of room for error. To compete in today’s e-commerce world, retailers must invest in robust and talented customer service teams. Unfortunately, a rapid increase in online shopping plus a decrease in the labor pool has made building these teams more difficult than in years past.
Outsourcing comes with a lot of benefits (e.g., scalable teams, native language customer support, follow-the-sun teams, etc.), but there are two key perks that are particularly timely for retailers now:
Outsourcing Can Combat Labor Shortages
The labor shortage has made plenty of headlines recently, and it’s showing no signs of slowing. Unfortunately, it seems to be hitting retailers particularly hard. According to the U.S. Labor Department’s most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, there were 1.18 million job openings in the retail industry in August, a steady increase over July.
However, instead of diverting internal resources to ramp up their hiring efforts, retailers should be turning to an outsourcing partner to combat the labor shortage struggles impacting their customer service teams. While the labor shortage isn’t unique to the U.S., there are job markets around the globe where hiring customer service talent is easier. Nearshore or offshore hiring can help mitigate your hiring struggles, and a reputable outsourcing partner can find you incredibly talented customer service experts that align with your brand voice and values.
“Reputable" is the key word here. When choosing an outsourcing partner, make sure it prioritizes employee well-being, offers better-than-average benefits, and hires specifically to match your company values. When done right, outsourcing can even exceed quality expectations. For example, we worked with one California-based premium food retailer to hire a full nearshore outsourced customer service workforce in Latin America that consistently delivers CSAT scores over 95 percent — way above average for e-commerce.
Even if you prefer to keep your outsourcing onshore, the right partner will have expertise in hiring in a variety of national job markets that may have more job seekers than your HQ location, expanding your talent pool significantly.
Outsourcing Can Cover Seasonal Spikes
Quick customer service is always important (in fact, 90 percent of customers say an “immediate” response is vital when they have a customer service question), but it's especially critical during high-stakes holidays. Experts were projecting that retailers could expect around 18 percent more social messages per month last holiday season compared to earlier in 2021. Combine this with the labor shortage impacting retailers’ abilities to find extra help, and it’s clear that providing quality customer service during seasonal spikes will be a struggle for many retailers.
By working with an outsourcing partner, you’re able to tap into a deep bench of available talent. And if the outsourced team has access to high-quality, consistent benefits and pay through the outsourcing partner, they're likely to be just as invested as your year-round staff.
How to Find a Good Outsourcing Partner
Outsourcing is only as good as the partner you pick. The more values-based the outsourcing company, the higher the quality of talent they’ll be able to source for your team. Here’s what to look for when choosing your outsourcer:
- above average pay;
- competitive and progressive benefits (e.g., generous family leave policies, insurance for same-sex domestic partners in regions beyond the U.S. or EU, retirement benefits, etc.) in both onshore and offshore job markets;
- personal and professional development for employees; and
- diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice (DEIBJ) policies.
Why? Because good talent is attracted to good benefits, high pay, and great culture — especially during a labor shortage.
Darnell Witt is the vice president of business development at PartnerHero, an outsourcing company for companies that care about quality and values.