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How Outsourcing Customer Support for Small Businesses Works & When It Makes Sense

Alice Wong
August 12, 2022
In this article, we cover when it does and doesn't make sense for small businesses to outsource customer support.

A recent study found that almost two-thirds of e-commerce brands outsource their customer support. This is likely due to the fact that it can be difficult to manage and staff a customer service department, especially for a brand that is growing rapidly. It can also be expensive. Depending on the size of the company and the complexity of the customer service needs, it can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 to staff and train a single customer support agent.


What does outsourcing customer support mean?

Formally, outsourcing customer support means contracting with an external organization to provide customer service functions that would otherwise be carried out in-house. It can include anything from handling customer inquiries and complaints to providing technical support and training.

Customer service is a term that is often used interchangeably with customer support, but the two are technically not the same. Customer service generally refers to the overall experience a customer has with a company, while customer support is the specific department or team that is responsible for addressing customer inquiries and issues. For smaller brands though, they can and usually mean the same thing.

...And outsourcing does not always mean offshoring

People also commonly associate "outsourcing" with "offshoring", like having a team in India or the Phillipines. That can be an option, but US-based customer service outsourcing options are also available to brands. For example, most of the Brand Experts that work with Chatdesk are US-based. Working in the same time zone can be especially helpful in the beginning when you need to connect or give feedback.

When shouldn't you outsource customer support?

There are a few instances when you may not want to outsource customer support. If your company is new and doesn't have a large customer base, it may be more cost effective to handle customer support in-house. We also recommend brands to consider outsourcing after they've established guidelines on how they want to respond to customers. At Chatdesk, we make sure every response is personalized to your brand's tone and voice. To do that, we work with you to create a Standard Response Guide that's based off your previous responses (at no extra cost).

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When do e-commerce brands typically outsource customer support?

These are the most common scenarios we've seen for when brands consider outsourcing:

Types of Small Businesses that Outsource their Customer Support

- Subscription-based Businesses

- Product-Based Businesses

- Beauty and Fashion Brands

- Direct-to-Consumer E-comm Businesses

Check Out How Subscription Brands Like Factor Meals Reduced Customer Churn Rates With Chatdesk.

How much does it cost to outsource customer service?

The cost of outsourcing customer service depends on a number of factors, including the size of the company, the type of customer service being provided, and the location of the service provider. Generally, the cost of outsourcing customer service will be less than the cost of hiring and training in-house customer service staff.

You don't need to outsource all customer support at once

Maybe you just need help responding to customer inquiries after-hours, on weekends, or just during super busy periods like Black Friday. Or maybe you need help responding to certain types of customer inquiries. Flexible solutions like Chatdesk don't lock you into annual contracts or require high minimums to get started. You can start small and scale.

Get support that’s precisely on brand, perfectly personalized, and cost-effective.

Chatdesk CX experts help innovative companies like Thinx, Shea Moisture, Moo, and Mented Cosmetics supercharge sales through their social and support channels. Our US-based teams deliver perfectly on-brand responses that turn customer inquiries on social, email, and chat into 10% more conversions and higher customer satisfaction.

Need some help? We’re at your service at Schedule a demo with us today or check out our 5-star reviews on the Shopify app marketplace.

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