LET’S CHAT

Should You Outsource Your Shopify Customer Service?

8 min read Last Updated: November 16, 2020
outsourcing Shopify customer service

Written by Michael Trang

Michael Trang is a Managing Partner at SKU Agency - the e-commerce agency focused on growing your business through strategy, technology & design. Michael loves fishing, playing guitar, and learning about the latest & greatest technologies.

As a Shopify store owner, you have to take care of every aspect of your business.

You have to prepare financial reports, build a store that attracts a loyal customer base, and market your products.

And you have to hire the perfect team that understands the importance of the customer experience.

With so many responsibilities on your plate, you might start to think about outsourcing some tasks — especially your customer service.

Outsourcing often has a negative reputation. You may think of it as a system that sends your company’s customer service jobs to a foreign entity that pays low wages.

But this is not reality. As the e-commerce industry has continued to boom, so have the technologies and services that power it. It’s common to hire a firm or freelance team to handle all Shopify customer service tasks.

According to SalesForce, 47% of customers will not shop with a store again after an underwhelming customer service experience. 91% won’t even complain directly to the brand. This means that you may not know customers are less than thrilled with your store (until you have a dip in sales, that is).

This is why having an adept customer service team is monumental for your online store.

You have two options in creating the perfect team: in-house or outsourcing.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each, so you’ll know once and for all if you should outsource your Shopify customer service.


What It Means to Outsource Customer Service

E-commerce store owners may handle their own customer interactions. Or, they may have their existing employees deal with customer inquiries.

But as your business grows, this may not be feasible.

Outsourcing customer service is when you hire a third-party company to handle all your customer care needs.

The third-party company can:

  • Hasten your store’s response time to customer comments and questions
  • Provide tailored and professional support channel management
  • Ensure overall customer satisfaction.

If your customers contact you through social media only, you may be able to field their questions and comments yourself or hire an assistant to do so. But when customer requests come through multiple channels, it may be easier and more cost-effective to outsource.

5 Customer Service Channels to Offer Your Customers

Whether you handle your own customer service responsibilities or outsource them, you should allow your customers to access you via these channels:

Live Chat

Your website should have a live chat interface where you (or a third party) can communicate with your customers in real time.

Most of the time, they are set up so customers get automated responses via a chatbot before being directed to a live customer support member. This reduces strain on your resources and can help match the customer with the service they need.

Social Media

Outsourcing Shopify social media customer service

Your social media team can field questions and comments left by visitors to your social media pages.

In a study by Bain & Company, researchers found that 20-40% of customers who engage with businesses on their social media pages spend more than other customers.

In other words, it’s important to have a social media team handling Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and any other social page linked to your business. Ignoring these customers and potential customers will have a negative impact on your sales.

Email

Email is not the fastest form of customer support, but it’s still common for consumers who don’t use social media and may not be comfortable using a chatbot widget.

Customers email their questions and comments to your designated support address. Their emails are placed in a queue and are addressed by your customer support team.

Related: How to Develop an Email Marketing Strategy to Grow Online Sales

SMS Texts

You can set up a contact form that lets your customers input their phone number. Your mobile support staff will then text the customer to answer any concerns they may have.

Responses can be instantaneous in a similar way to live chats.

Phone Calls

The original form of customer service support is still relevant today.

Because this is direct, voice-to-voice communication, it’s important that your support staff has a deep knowledge of your business and is friendly to customers.

If you set up a customer service phone number, you’ll need a call center support staff that speaks fluent English, with Spanish-speaking staff as well.

Want help building out your Shopify store? Check out our Shopify Design and Development Services!


The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Shopify Customer Service

There are pros and cons to outsourcing your customer service efforts, just like there are pros and cons to doing it yourself.

Pros

The benefits of outsourcing your Shopify customer service include:

Professionalism

Customer service teams are trained to provide the best customer care, 24/7. By relying on them, you’ll save the money you’d spend training your own staff.

Brand Messaging

A strong customer service team will familiarize themselves with your brand and work to maintain it when interacting with customers.

As the voice of your brand, they can assure your responses come across as personal, which 90% of consumers appreciate.

Focus

You and your staff have other things to do. With a third party handling your customers, you can focus on growing your business.

All your outsourced help desk team does is focus on customer care.

They can also increase response times. About 66% of customers expect a response to their customer service issues within 10 minutes.

Cons

There is also a downside or two to outsourcing customer service:

Choosing the Right Team and Services

It takes research to find the right team and services for your store.

It may be difficult to know which services you want initially, and you may overspend on services you don’t need.

Depending on the services you end up with, outsourcing can get rather costly.

Lack of Quality Control

It’s tough to hand control of your store’s customer care to a separate entity, so you have to put a lot of faith in this third-party service.

When it comes to in-house customer care, either you, a business partner, or a trained team member are responding to clients. This gives you more control over customer interactions.

You aren’t always able to do this if you leave this job in someone else’s hands.


When Is It Time to Outsource Your Customer Support?

There may come a time when handling your own customer care is no longer a viable prospect.

Here’s when you should think about delegating the task of customer service to someone else:

You Want to Be More Competitive

Outsourced customer service teams don’t just work during typical work hours — they work after hours and on holidays, too. Outsourcing your customer care can help build a reputation for fast and friendly service.

Your competitors may already have 24/7 teams in place to instantly respond to clients and potential customers. If you don’t have one, you could miss out on business.

You and Your Staff Are Overwhelmed

Your marketing efforts paid off and more shoppers are flocking to your online store. A growing business is wonderful, but it means you have new concerns.

Something as important as customer interactions should never be a second thought.

By partnering with the perfect customer support service, you can focus on scaling your business.

It’s Holiday Season

As you know, e-commerce stores see tons more traffic during the holiday season.

Having an outsourced customer care team in place during the holidays ensures you never miss a potential sale due to poor customer service.

Even after the holidays, you’ll be flooded with customer interactions and must have support channels in place to guarantee a positive post-purchase experience.


When to Provide Your Own Customer Service

Whether you choose to offer in-house or outsourced customer service should depend on your business and your customer.

Stores that specialize in bespoke services or products may net lots of income with fewer sales. You may prefer to maintain a personal touch with your customers and provide in-house customer care.

Businesses that attract customers from across the globe and sell thousands of units of their products may be overwhelmed by handling customer service in house.

Related: Does Shopify Work for B2B? [Shopify Plus Review]

It all depends on your store’s needs and your bandwidth. Do you already have the staff necessary to interact with your clients in a way that generates customer loyalty?

Great customer service doesn’t just happen on its own. If you’re honest with yourself about what your business and customers need, you’ll come to the right conclusion every time.


How to Hire a Customer Service Team

How to Hire a Customer Service Team

The prospect of outsourcing customer service may seem daunting. We’re going to try to make it as simple for you as possible, we promise.

To find the best customer service team for your Shopify store, do the following:

1. Identify Your Goals

What are your goals for hiring?

To give you and your staff more time to focus on other aspects of your business? To save money? To respond to global customers quicker?

Define your goals so you can hire an agency that understands and strives to meet them.

2. Think About Your Customers’ Needs

Always consider who your customer is. High-end businesses with customers around the world definitely want a multi-lingual, 24/7 team.

If your customer base is tech-savvy, ensure that social media, live chat, and text channels are offered first and foremost.

If your business caters to an older crowd, you want to ensure that the phone lines are manned around the clock and that emails are answered swiftly.

3. Choose Your Hiring Platform

There are several ways to find talented customer service professionals. Consider the following platforms when outsourcing:

Agencies

HelplamaSupportNinja, and PartnerHero all offer professional customer care services for e-commerce businesses.

They have staff members located around the globe who are trained and ready to take on your customers. Support firms take away the hassle of training staff, although you may want to consider hiring an onboarding service so that they know your business and expectations inside and out.

Agencies may be the most expensive platform to source from, but they often guarantee outstanding results. It’s a superb option for high-end Shopify businesses that are willing to pay for the most comprehensive customer care.

Shopify Apps

The Shopify App Store offers you access to customer service apps categorized into subsections, such as CRM, Messaging and Chat, and Returns and Warranties.

You can also rely on Shopify support channels if you need them when adding new apps to your website.

Some offer free plans and/or free trials with your Shopify account, so you can test it on your store before making a commitment.

Related: 7 Shopify Apps to Improve Your Business

Online Talent Marketplaces

Websites like Freelancer.comFiverr, and Upwork can connect you with countless customer service pros from across the globe.

You can negotiate rates and train them as you see fit.

This is a smart option for the bespoke Shopify websites we mentioned earlier. A freelancer can easily adapt to your brand identity and provide the personal touch your customers have come to associate with your store.


Conclusion

Smaller e-commerce stores may prefer to keep their customer service team in house to save money and retain a personal touch. But, it makes sense to outsource your customer service efforts if you run a thriving business and want to focus on operations.

By hiring a third-party team, online stores can grow and scale without worrying that customer care is slipping. It’s a smart decision for many businesses and will likely pay for itself in the form of increased sales from satisfied customers.

Sure, there are a lot of steps to work out before outsourcing a team. But hopefully, this guide will help you feel confident in the process.

If you’re looking for new and exciting ways to grow your e-commerce store, our Shopify experts have just the plan for you.

Learn more about our Shopify design and development services!

Shopify 90-day Free Trial



Prefer to send us an email?

[email protected]

Learn more about SKU Agency.

X

Prefer to send us an email?

[email protected]

Learn more about SKU Agency.