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How do you choose a live chat outsourcing company?

So you have decided to outsource live chat and have started your search for a live chat outsourcing partner to support your business. I am writing this article to help you understand the differences between the various outsourcing partners and how to choose the best one for your company.

But Anthony, don’t you work for a company that provides this type of live chat services? Why should I listen to your biased opinion? Good question, dear reader. Yes, we offer managed live chat. Are we the right party for every company? No. We want to work with companies that are suitable for us, so if reading this article helps you decide what partner you need and we turn out not to be that partner, that is fine! Live chat is truly great and I would like to see every site use it and have it operated by the right people – whether that is us, a competitor, or an in-house team. Promise. Now, let’s continue!

Outsourcing can be a scary decision. At this moment, you are trying your best to ensure you find the right partner for your company. If you have never used live chat before or even outsourced anything, where do you start when choosing the right partner? I am going to try to distil the thousands of conversations I have had with prospects and clients over the past 2 years to help you make the right choice.

What is your mean reason for wanting live chat?

Before we start looking at the different options for outsourcing, you will need to think about why you want to use live chat in the first place.

Unless you have a lot of time and money (if you do, feel free to contact us – I can make time for a cup of coffee), then you are looking at live chat to solve a real business problem.

So to help you decide which outsourcing partner is right for you, we first need to answer the following question: why do you want live chat in the first place?

Why do you want live chat in the first place?

tabel managed live chat

Choose the box that is most in line with what you are looking to achieve with live chat as a tool. Now we need to understand why, based on your above answer, you are looking at outsourcing rather than in-house.

Why are you looking at live chat outsourcing?

The table below shows the quadrant that best describes your general goals for live chat:

tabel managed live chat

Note: In all of the above examples, the expansion of existing office hours is considered part of the main reason for outsourcing.

Now we can start forming an image of what you are looking for when it comes to the type of live chat outsourcing partner you need.

What should you look for in an outsourcing company?

In this phase, we are going to look at linking your selected quadrant to the type of provider. To keep things simple, I have used two main axes: value and costs. The heading ‘costs’ is quite clear; high costs means things can be more expensive, low costs means price is truly important to you.

Value is somewhat different. Value is not necessarily correlated to quality. Here, value refers to the added value that will be created besides just making a person available who answers the chats. You may only need a little bit of relative value (someone who can answer the 10 most frequently asked questions via chat). Recognising what you really want from a ‘value’ perspective will help you understand what type of live chat partner is suitable for you. To help you further, I have outlined a number of important differences between low-quality and high-quality providers:

live chat table

Based on your answer to the first two tables, it is likely that the table below will give you an overview of the types of features you need to look for when choosing the perfect partner.

managed live chat
To give you some more context, the companies in the quadrants above probably have one or more of the following features:

managed live chat
So, we now have an idea of the type of outsourcing partner you are looking for and the features that belong to it.

Checking for quality, questions you should ask

Whether you are looking for high costs or low value or one of the other two options, it is always important to check whether your favourite partner is the right one for the quality you expect.

As we discussed earlier, there are cheap providers who offer low value but still deliver good quality. And there are expensive providers who offer too little value for your money, and everything in between.

Before you get started, I would like to suggest that you ask the provider the following questions:

  • Where are your operators?
  • What are the start-up costs?
  • How do you find the knowledge you need?
  • How are your operators trained?
  • What are your SLAs (look at customer satisfaction, response speed, availability, etc.)
  • Do your operators have KPIs and how are they measured?
  • Can you estimate the number of leads/orders you will generate for me?
  • How are your operators monitored?
  • What happens when they do not know the answer to a question?
  • How do I receive the leads/customer service questions?
  • What kinds of reports do you offer?
  • What is the level of customisation you offer?
  • Do you have experience in my industry?
  • Who are your clients?
  • Can I test your services on their websites?
  • Can I receive copies of all chat transcriptions?
  • What happens when an operator flips out?
  • My main traffic sources are: (name your top 3). How can you maximise the number of leads/orders from these resources?

Final words

Live chat is an incredible tool. Like any tool, its success or failure depends on the way it is used.

If you are considering outsourcing live chat (also known as managed live chat), then be clear about what live chat needs to do for you.

Many people I speak with say they want to outsource live chat for one major reason: I have nobody else to do it.

That is a logical reason, but it is actually the symptom of the problem and not the core issue.

It is the size and scope of the problem that you are trying to solve, which should decide what live chat outsourcing partner is right for you, and not the fact that you have nobody to do it. Outsourcing is about working together with a party that can add the right amount of value, in a cost-effective way, and not just someone who can do the work.

Chat offers a great opportunity to create inspiring conversations that add tangible value to your business. Regardless of the partner you choose to work with, I wish you good luck on your journey – it is a major step toward a more customer-oriented business.

Click here if you want to download our whitepaper on how to generate leads with live chat.

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