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In studying our service request process, it became apparent that our ten customer service representatives (CSRs) working on a shifting schedule to serve hundreds of our customers everyday are not efficiently answering the necessity for fast service. Despite computerization, the CSRs were filled to the brim with requests, and they are overworked for accepting the requests and processing them for technical support to attend to. Add to this, they also accommodate account information request from clients. While our technical support is comprehensive, they are waiting for requests which are coming from the CSRs. Without reports from the CSRs, they cannot answer to a customer request whether for connection or repair.
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The growing number of service requests is tantamount to the growing number of our subscribers. We can view this on a positive note as we can be able to measure the growth of our company by the growth in the number of our subscribers. However, as the old economic adage goes, the more demand there is, the more supply there should be. If we cannot answer the growing demands of our consumers, our competitors will take advantage of this loophole and the customers will start thinking twice about our service. This is dangerous for our aim to retain customer loyalty for, by comparison with competitors, we have the edge in terms of our client relations. While technically speaking we may be left behind by more advanced and financially capable companies, our asset being our relationship with our clients is an enviable advantage we have over other companies. Thus, we should figure out how well we can improve our service in this area to protect our accounts.
Based on a survey by The Economist (2007), an effective option used by many companies today is to outsource the customer service. Outsourcing is an economic savior for companies like us. It will allow us to function inter-departmentally with less cost, thus less investment, and less effort in respect with our manpower. It allows us to hire customer representatives without having to ask our human resources department to work doubly hard, and at increased speed, to answer the need for more representatives. It allows us to train new people without having to hire new trainers. It gives us the opportunity to invest once and get all that we need to answer our customer service dilemma.
This will be a viable alternative for us as we can outsource general requests and make our existing CSR department exclusive for our business accounts clients. With this option, we will need to choose a business process outsourcing (BPO) company, a call center, which specializes in voice and text service to do the customer service for us. This is nothing new to many businesses. Even other telecommunications companies in other countries have resorted to such choice. With outsourcing, we do not need to rush our human resources team with new applications; outsourcing companies have existing employees to train for our job requirements. All we need to do is set standards and furnish them information on our requirements. Then, we can stay on the background, monitoring the process and making changes as needed. We need not go through the process of hiring new people and waste considerable time and effort for new trainings and acculturation. This is comparably easier and more economical than the long way out of expanding the customer service department. While this may ensure that the new people are trained according to our specifications, it will mean segmented expenses to answer the different aspects involved in expanding the department. It will mean assigning or hiring people to train the new customer service representatives. When we choose to do this, we need to employ more people to do the job of answering calls and accepting inquiries and requests. Training shall also cost the company a considerable amount of money.
The company will also need to set up more workstations to accommodate the new CSRs. The workstations will need equally powerful computer systems and client reception systems. Of course, more computers will mean more usage of electricity, necessity for more floor space, and more users for company facilities. In employing more manpower, the company shall invest a larger chunk of its revenue on payroll for the newly hired, whereas in outsourcing we shall be hiring new people also but in undoubtedly lower expenses as wages in other countries, especially where outsourcing are booming industries, are known to be cheaper. This lower-wage advantage has been one of the reasons why outsourcing has been a popular choice for many companies.
In the same way, moving on with a BPO company to provide for our call center needs also has its downsides. As The Economist (2007) puts it, IBM beats Indian BPO firms—the fastest growing in the world—by way of maintaining good client relations. This applies to us. We move forward and reach up by understanding our clients and responding to their needs. If we outsource, there is the threat of a different culture from a different group of workers to be injected into our customer service. While there is a chance for it to be good or bad, the small margin of error between the two may still mean loss of customer on our side.
However still, every great step involves great risk. We can choose to not take the risk of outsourcing, or face it and live with it by taking the precautionary measures so that it does not drastically affect us. If we deploy comprehensive monitoring in our outsourcing of our customer relations service, we can ensure that the theory which worked for other companies can also work for us. It is then safe to say that outsourcing is a good deck to bet at, and if we deal the cards at the right moment it can get us the returns we expect. And maybe even more.
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