Call center outsourcing is a strategic decision that many businesses make. It offers cost-efficiency, flexible staffing, and access to a deeper talent pool, as well as a myriad of other benefits.
However, as beneficial as outsourcing can be, it also brings potential downsides. Without proper research and in-depth analysis of your business needs and prospective outsourcing vendors, you can quickly end up experiencing these issues firsthand.
In this article, we’ll cover the most common disadvantages of call center outsourcing. In the end, you’ll have a better understanding of the most significant concerns and how you can plan ahead to avoid them.
While there are many advantages to call center outsourcing, such as cutting costs and scaling your operations, it’s not without risk. If you rush in with poor planning, you can run into many issues, from customer experience to budget, and there’s even a chance for compliance issues and data leaks.
Let’s dive into the most common disadvantages of call center outsourcing.
Call center outsourcing might seem cost-effective at first (and in most cases, it is), but there’s still a chance it can exceed your budget if you don’t plan accordingly. One common way this can happen is through hidden expenses in your contract or agreement with your outsourcing provider.
It’s essential to thoroughly review any agreements or clauses that can lead to additional charges, not just for peace of mind but so you’re fully aware of all costs and why they’re included.
Another factor that can push up prices is a fluctuating pricing model. Not all outsourcing vendors use variable pricing, but if your partner does you’ll need to closely monitor call volume and duration, which can lead to higher prices. If you’re unable to keep your costs low, you may want to look for hourly pricing instead.
Finally, currency exchange risks add another layer of complexity to your call center costs. With outsourcing often involving international transactions, fluctuating exchange rates can lead to unexpected fees hitting your budget.
Communication is the cornerstone of your call center, making any potential communication issues critical. Language barriers are the biggest concern and with good reason.
They can make it difficult for your customers to connect and understand your agents, leaving them feeling like they weren’t helped at all. Even when agents are fluent in your native language, nuances and different dialects can lead to misunderstandings, negatively impacting the customer experience.
On top of that, cultural differences can make communications even more chaotic. Outsourced agents may lack the cultural context to help them fully connect to your customers, leading to interactions that may seem impersonal or misaligned with expectations. Proper training can help alleviate some of these issues, but your teams must invest time in these training sessions.
Expanding your reach also brings issues with alignment across different time zones. Outsourcing to a different time zone can lead to misaligned hours of availability, affecting response times and overall service efficiency. You’ll want to communicate with your outsourcing vendor to work within their operating hours and plan around availability on both sides.
Quality control is a significant concern with contact center outsourcing. With a lack of direct supervision, ensuring your call center agents adhere to your company’s standards can be challenging.
While you can work with teams to ensure they’re being trained and monitored appropriately, pairing that with quality assurance (QA) software is vital. Solid QA software allows you to continuously monitor your agents, so you can offer personalized feedback and training, boosting service quality.
Inconsistency in service levels is another critical issue. Fluctuating service quality can lead to customer churn, weak customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores, and lower first call resolution (FCR) rates. Customers expect a consistent service experience, and outliers can severely impact overall CX and their perception of your brand.
Already a common issue within the call center industry, employee turnover can also dramatically affect your customer service. When staff frequently changes, maintaining a consistent level of service becomes even more challenging.
Data is fundamental to businesses, and keeping it safe and secure is essential. However, outsourced call centers may not always have the same security requirements as traditional in-house centers, increasing the risk of compromised customer data.
Compliance with regulations is a critical aspect to keep in mind. Outsourced call centers must adhere to various data protection and privacy laws, and failing to comply can lead to significant financial—and reputational—damages.
You’ll want to ensure your outsourcing vendor fully complies with regular audits and reviews. Compliance isn’t just a legal necessity; it’s a requirement for keeping your—and your customers’—data safe.
Additionally, confidentiality can be a major concern. When handing over sensitive documents and customer interactions to third parties, you’ll want to be sure you can trust your outsourcing vendor to keep important information confidential.
While cost-effective, outsourcing call center operations can inadvertently impact customer experience.
With 70% of customers feeling more loyal to companies that offer personalized service, outsourced call centers, who often follow scripted responses, may struggle to connect and offer the individualized attention your customers are looking for. And without that personal touch, they may feel undervalued and disconnected.
When customer questions aren’t handled with the level of care or expertise they’re used to, their satisfaction levels can plummet. This decline can greatly impact long-term customer retention and revenue, as dissatisfied customers are more likely to seek out competitors with a better customer experience.
A negative brand perception can also result from call center outsourcing. Centers that fail to meet expectations can lead to negative reviews spreading like wildfire. And with poor brand perception, your business may struggle to pick up new customers in the future.
One of the most significant advantages—and disadvantages—of contact center outsourcing is the ability to scale up and down as needed. While outsourcing can handle baseline call volumes, sudden spikes and unexpected changes in demand can strain their resources, leading to service delays or quality issues.
Another factor is having limited customization options for your outsourced call center. They often use standardized processes and scripts, which can restrict the ability to tailor services to specific customer needs or company policies. Like point #5, this can impact your overall customer experience if your agents act and talk without a personal touch.
Moreover, the rigidity in service offerings can be a stumbling block. Outsourced centers may offer a set range of services, which might not align perfectly with the evolving needs of your business.
All of these issues can be solved with the right outsourcing partner, which means you’ll need to thoroughly research potential vendors and discuss your company’s needs, abilities, and service offerings with them at length.
Outsourcing call center operations can lead to an over-reliance on third-party vendors. This dependency can result in your company’s performance being directly tied to that of your vendor. When issues arise, implementing or fixing problems can become challenging, especially if you don’t have direct control over your agents.
Additionally, there’s a chance that conflicts of interest could occur. Your business may not be the top priority of your outsourcing vendor, especially if they cater to multiple clients with different demands. These types of situations can lead to a compromise in the level of attention and resources dedicated to your company’s needs.
One key issue with call center outsourcing is becoming accountable for your vendor’s actions. Mistakes from your outsourcing partner, such as poor customer service or data breaches, fall to you and your brand. This can easily lead to a loss of trust among your customer base and damage to your company’s reputation.
On top of that, managing crises becomes an even bigger challenge as they’re no longer under your direct control. Coordinating effective responses to issues with an external vendor can be challenging, often leading to delayed or inadequate solutions.
Rebuilding trust after an issue can also be tricky. It affects the relationship between your business and your customer—and between you and your outsourcing vendor. This can take time to resolve and even lead to a complex and difficult end if that trust is never rebuilt.
Outsourcing call center operations often involves navigating legal and contractual issues, including agreements with ambiguous terms. Clarity and precision in outlining terms, conditions, and expectations are essential for a trusting and effective business relationship.
Additionally, jurisdictional issues can also come into play when outsourcing near or off-shore. Call center outsourcing often crosses international borders, necessitating thorough due diligence and legal review to ensure compliance with different laws and regulations.
This can also make dispute resolution more difficult than usual. Resolving conflicts with an outsourced partner can be time-consuming and costly, with the risk of potentially damaging business relations if they’re not managed effectively.
The importance of clear, comprehensive contractual agreements cannot be overstated. Proper planning and foresight are crucial to anticipate and prepare for any occurrence, safeguarding your business interests.
You can easily impact employee morale and internal team dynamics. The perception of outsourcing can lead to a decline in employee morale and manifest in disengagement, poor performance, increased agent burnout, and higher turnover rates for your in-house teams.
There’s also a risk of losing in-house expertise. Relying too much on outsourced agents places significant trust in the vendor’s capabilities, potentially leading to a decline in your team’s skill set and knowledge.
Working with your employees to be less resistant to change can also be a significant hurdle. Introducing an outsourced team often requires significant adjustments in workflows and communication, leading to pushback from your existing staff.
A major challenge that comes with contact center outsourcing is transferring knowledge from your existing team. An in-house team's specialized skills and institutional knowledge are difficult to emulate and even harder to transfer, meaning you may lose some knowledge in the process.
This same issue extends to onboarding and training too. Ensuring your outsourced teams are as knowledgeable and capable as your in-house team requires extensive, in-depth call center training programs. However, facilitating these training sessions across the globe can pose a challenge.
Maintaining consistency within your processes is another aspect to look out for. Ensuring your outsourced agents are following the same protocols and processes as in-house teams requires continuous quality monitoring, another reason why using robust QA software can help.
An outsourced call center can lead to a significant reduction in direct customer feedback. Gathering that feedback, whether it’s through surveys, social media, reviews, or other methods, is critical to paint a picture of your overall customer experience and satisfaction.
Outsourcing can create a disconnect in this feedback loop, resulting in poor insights and fewer opportunities for improvement.
Additionally, with outsourcing there are fewer opportunities for customer engagement. Without them, you’ll struggle to understand your customers and their needs, resulting in a negative impact on customer experience.
This can extend to product development, too. Without direct customer feedback, it becomes challenging to incorporate customer opinions and needs into your product roadmap. That can lead to even worse customer satisfaction, as they may feel like their opinions and needs are no longer valued.
Like the hidden fees, the long-term costs of call center outsourcing can be difficult to predict, though for different reasons. Costs such as repatriation expenses for outsourced agents living abroad should be taken into account. These costs can be substantial and shouldn’t be overlooked in your initial cost-benefit analysis.
Additionally, the financial costs can be significant if a decision is made to transition back to in-house operations. Reversing the decision to outsource involves the direct costs of re-establishing an in-house team, as well as costs for training new staff, potential downtime, and further loss of institutional knowledge.
When outsourcing call center operations, environmental and social factors will also come into play. The potential carbon footprint of global operations, such as travel, is a growing concern. Outsourcing internationally can lead to increased emissions, which can conflict with corporate sustainability goals.
Ethical concerns play a significant role as well, particularly with offshore outsourcing. Potential issues surrounding labor practices, working conditions, and fair wages are all crucial things to consider when looking to outsource. Ensuring your outsourcing partner adheres to ethical standards is not just morally imperative but can also impact your company’s reputation.
While call center outsourcing can offer significant benefits, it’s crucial to be mindful of the potential disadvantages that it brings. From quality control and financial issues to environmental and social considerations, these downsides can spell disaster if not taken into account.
Weighing the pros and cons of outsourcing, as well as doing thorough research into potential outsourcing vendors, is critical when making the leap to contact center outsourcing.
One of the best ways to keep an eye on the overall quality of your call center—regardless of whether it’s in-house or outsourced, is using the right tools. Explore how Scorebuddy can help you shape and elevate your customer experience to new heights with our powerful and insightful QA software. Sign up for a free trial today.