Inbound vs. Outbound Customer Support: Definitions and Key Points for Success

customer support

Customer support is either inbound or outbound, depending on where it originates. In this article, we’ll look at the difference between both types and discuss key points to succeed at both.

Inbound Customer Support: Definition

Inbound customer support occurs when a consumer contacts the firm. The client may call support to resolve a query, place an order, or ask for any form of support. This form of service is reactive because it relies on client contact alone.

Firms need to handle such calls correctly. A client calling in with a support request may already feel frustrated. It doesn’t take long for that frustration to build into anger. Dealing with such calls requires a blend of patience and technical expertise.

In-house teams may have the product knowledge to answer queries, but lack the skills to defuse the situation. This has led to the increasing popularity of niche providers such as SupportYourApp. These service providers focus on delivering an outstanding client experience by training their employees.

Firms drawing on these providers’ skills can focus on building the business rather than handling messy support calls.

Outbound Customer Support: Definition

Outbound customer support occurs when a consultant contacts the client. The agent may call to follow up with a client, tell them about new products, or ensure customer success. Outbound service calls are seen as a proactive step.

In the past, outbound calls centered on sales. A more modern approach is to use the call to improve the client relationship. Instead of hard-selling, agents may, for example, teach the client about additional features that they don’t already know about.

Key Points for Success With Inbound Service

Inbound customer service functions optimally when clients have a single point of contact. A central call center that allows clients to ask questions about a product, place an order, and follow up on delivery is a prime example.

Agents in the call center should have both the product training and social skills to deal with the call. They must also know how to identify calls that require specialist assistance.

The primary advantage of having one contact center is that it’s convenient for the client. It’s also far easier for the firm to maintain control over service delivery.

Service Standards

Firms should regularly monitor calls to ensure that agents are delivering the best possible service. They may additionally randomly contact clients to follow up with them. Most importantly, companies should aim to provide a consistent service standard.

Agents must answer calls quickly and deal with queries efficiently. Maintaining an in-house call center provides companies with maximum control, but it comes at a high cost. Firms must balance staff costs against adequately operating the lines. Striking a happy medium between peak and off-peak efficiency is tricky.

Outsourcing the call center to a BPO provider offers firms a more cost-efficient solution.

Customer Self-Help Facilities

Firms may also lighten the load by offering clients self-help facilities for simple tasks. While there’ll always be clients who require human support, many will appreciate these convenient alternatives. Self-service options also assist call centers by freeing them up to deal with more complex issues.

 Key Points for Success With Outbound Customer Service

Outbound service allows firms to improve the productivity of employees during off-peak periods. When handled correctly, the calls strengthen the client relationship. A simple welcome call, for example, makes the client feel more valued. Following up with a client about how well a product suited them is another way to improve the relationship.

The calls demonstrate that the company acknowledges that clients are valuable beyond a sale. In the race to build a client base, firms may overlook their existing customers. That’s an expensive mistake to make.

According to Accenture, client switching is increasing. Consumers are increasingly like to switch to a new provider after experiencing bad service. Of more concern, perhaps, are what Accenture deems “partial switchers.”

These clients continue to use one aspect of the company’s service but look to another provider for additional assistance. Such cases are typically due to a lack of knowledge about a company’s products and services, rather than poor service.

It’s a situation that’s easily rectified with good outbound service.

Final Notes

Understanding the difference between inbound and outbound service is essential in creating a holistic client experience. Firms that effectively manage the two are increasingly able to differentiate themselves through service excellence.

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