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Outsourcing Customer Service Without Losing Quality: How-To?

Quality management11 MIN READDec 7, 2023

Challenges of BPO customer service quality

Outsourcing customer support gives you access to a specialized workforce without distracting from your core business competencies. But your customers don’t know — or care — if you use a customer service BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) to communicate with them. They still connect the quality of support they receive from this external provider with your value as a business. 

Given that customer expectations are constantly increasing, is it possible to relinquish some of your influence over your operations by customer service outsourcing and still meet those expectations?

The short answer is yes. How, exactly, is a longer answer — one which we set out right here. 

Klaus encouraging you to read the next paragraph.

Does the way you structure your customer service team affect support quality?

Although some companies keep everything in-house regardless of size, the larger a company grows, the more likely they are to look into customer support outsourcing options to supplement or replace in-house teams or account for seasonality in hiring. That can take several forms: 

  1. Outsourcing all support to BPOs
    This means that there’s no customer support team in-house. Instead, a customer service outsourcing company is supplied with all the information needed to support customers. 
  2. Outsourcing a support tier to BPOs
    For some companies, tier 1 customer support agents are outsourced while escalation specialists remain in-house. Fewer take the opposite approach, outsourcing tier 2 agents and keeping frontline customer service representatives in-house. 

In either case, support quality specialists can be based in-house or onsite. You might think an in-house QA specialist gives you better insight. But, especially in cases where the company outsources across multiple vendors to cover multiple regions or time zones, that logic doesn’t always follow. All models of support setup with BPOs can be successful if the right processes and communication pathways are in place to facilitate quality customer service. 

The structure you choose is not a determinant of quality. Your vendor is.

You’re making a big investment, not only in terms of money, but in time and in trust, and your BPO partner should be able to demonstrate how they’ll be good stewards of that investment.

An attractive BPO partner doesn’t need to have previous experience in your industry. It has to have a track record of building great teams.
Tony Won
Tony Won
Senior Consultant, Player Support

Outsourcing customer service - quality

Customer service outsourcing vs support quality

Regardless of the way you structure your customer support team, you should be able to assess the quality of customer interactions.

Customer service quality has traditionally been measured with metrics like Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) or Customer Effort Score (CES).

Customer service quality metrics like Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) or Customer Effort Score (CES) can help you set KPIs and understand benchmarks. But the qualitative data, harnessed through conversation reviews, is critical for all companies who outsource.

When you are not on the floor to see trends and spot agent knowledge gaps, numbers alone can’t tell you how to improve. Reviews flesh out your understanding for a better connection with performance.

The right quality assurance software connects companies to customers, no matter how support is structured. 

A good customer service BPO will be able to explain their QA processes, and give you some general stats regarding it — for instance, what QA scores have they achieved with similar clients? We prioritize quality at Peak Support, and it’s clearly visible in the 95% average QA score we see across all of our clients.
Hannah Steiman
Hannah Steiman
President & Chief Strategy Officer at Peak Support

An illustration of Klaus with the necessary tools.

How to keep quality high in outsourced customer service teams

Below are three common problems associated with customer service outsourcing, along with several ways to fix the issue. But if the vendor you outsource to doesn’t cooperate with your (quality) priorities, find a customer service BPO that does. The market is certainly large enough to accommodate. Otherwise, your outsourcing will cause more problems in-house.

Problem #1: Customer service companies experience higher employee attrition

Attrition is one of the best indicators of how employees are valued.

Employee retention is a universal problem in customer service, so be aware that the employee tenure may be shorter than you think. The length of time customer service employees spend in one job depends on industry and age, among other factors.

2.2 years is the average length of service for support agents ages 20 – 34.

Nice’s 2022 attrition report looked into US and UK-based vendors, finding that BPO agents were more likely to quit sooner than in-house employees. In general, larger companies have higher attrition rates. 

However, this is not good for customer service quality. The processes of hiring and onboarding new employees are time-consuming and costly. It also stands to (logical) reason that agents with more experience with a company are better acquainted with the product and company tone of voice.

Many teams also rely on senior members who have more depth of knowledge to help with their quality program:

  • Rentman, for example, entrusts its more senior members with conducting reviews.
  • At Sky Betting & Gaming, an advisory team — consisting of the most knowledgeable of the group — operates a Slack channel to consult on more complicated issues and add to the knowledge base.


Ways to combat the problem of employee attrition with outsourced customer support teams

  1. Investigate how much value a customer service outsourcing company puts into its employees. Do they invest in training? Investigate how you, as a provider, can bolster career progression. For example, promote top-performing agents into the quality or training process.
  2. Salary is important to us all. The people who are on the customer frontlines (AKA outsourced customer service reps) should be valued. Make sure your chosen customer service outsourcing companies pay appropriately and consider establishing raises to reward employees directly. 
  3. In general, the bigger the company, the higher the attrition rate. Consider outsourcing customer service to multiple smaller providers rather than one bigger one. 
We try to track the main causes of attrition. Companies report what they want to report, but we try to work with partners who are as transparent as possible. We make sure that customer support agents are paid competitively on the market and we also check how people get promoted, as in some cases attrition is because of a lack of career progression.
Carole Riault
Carole Riault

Problem #2: An extra degree of separation

When you outsource customer service, you want to delegate agent management. But you don’t want to trigger the ‘silo effect’. The silo effect happens when communication fractures and information is not shared between departments & teams. 

In essence, you don’t want the benefits you reap from customer service outsourcing to come at the expense of quality and customer satisfaction

So, how do you combat the extra degree of separation between business and customer when customer service is outsourced? 

A successful partnership between a BPO and a business comes down to two things: training and communication.

Outsourced customer service

How to get involved in agent training in outsourced customer service companies

We talked to Theo Panaritis, a customer service training specialist, about how businesses should get involved in how BPOs train employees:

Continuous training should be at the core of the quality maintenance efforts. Not only product training, but also power skills training – focusing on communication and agility. 

What is also important here is to set clear communal processes. Just because customer support is outsourced, it doesn’t mean that the goals are different! What is important here is to blend the outsourced team with the in-house related departments and teams. 

The outsourced customer support team shouldn’t feel like an outsider and should be involved in the company updates. Blending teams in a collaborative environment is not an easy task, but it’s something that we have all been preparing for in the last two years where remote and hybrid work have left their mark.

Furthermore, the outsourced customer service provider needs continuous feedback throughout the hiring and training process. Fearless feedback is the force behind constructive and honest discussions.

Workforce allocation is handled by the customer service outsourcing company, but having input from the client is very important for a healthy relationship.

Problem #3: Consistency & calibration

Consistency is a hot topic right now in customer service. 

Chat, email, call, social networks, bots, video — the ways in which businesses communicate with customers are expanding. But customers crave consistency across channels, so companies also need to maintain a consistent voice across platforms and people.

Add outsourcing into the mix, and (ouch) it gets complicated. 

We discussed goals previously, and that is relevant here too. If BPOs are aware of and aligned across company goals, there is at least a benchmark for success. Something to stick on the fridge (maybe even literally). 

The 3 ways to maintain consistency in customer service operations

1. Knowledge base

At Klaus, we advise all companies to clearly define internal standards and procedures. 

A single knowledge base that gives all agents access to protocols and procedures is low-hanging fruit when it comes to consistency.

Creating a Knowledge Base was mandatory before starting to change the quality system and transition to using Klaus. Creating this KB allowed us to finally track what agents are expected to do on our global operation and also ensure that we stopped any system of doing their own thing on a specific vendor/country.
Miguel Ribeiro Alves
Miguel Ribeiro Alves

2. Structured onboarding

The expression ‘start as you mean to go on’ is apt here. Give all agents the same diving board to jump off, no matter where they work.

A strong onboarding process introduces: 

  • Customer personas and target users
  • Company values and communication rubric 
  • Product training
  • Common user scenarios 
  • Tools and proceedings 

We operate and recommend a ‘buddy’ system to promote shared learning and non-formal guidance (this aids company culture & well-being also!). 

3. QA Calibration sessions

The first thing you can do to keep your agents in line is to have your reviews in line. It starts with who does the reviewing. Misaligned or biased reviews lead to inconsistent grading and skewed quality metrics

At Klaus, we recommend monthly calibration sessions for most teams. Get your reviewers together to either:
(a) review conversations blind, then discuss grades after,
(b) review conversations together to facilitate discussion,
(c) review conversations with agents for transparency.

If you have outsourced your quality management in addition to your support team, it’s best to set up a process where you perform some spot-checks on the quality reviews. This is where you review the grade given by the reviewer to ensure that they are following your own quality standards. 

Adding spot checks alongside your regular calibration sessions means that you can still be in control of the quality standards of your (outsourced) support team!

Riley Young
Riley Young
Educational Content Specialist at Klaus

Customer service outsourcing without losing quality — checklist

  1. Choose the right partner (here’s more on choosing BPOs)
  2. Set clear, communal processes.
  3. Establish a thorough knowledge base. 
  4. Offer career progression and rewards. 
  5. Consider smaller customer service providers. 
  6. Offer structured onboarding.
  7. Provide continuous feedback. 
  8. Hold regular calibration sessions.
If you’re looking for some inspiration about managing quality across borders and BPOs, we highly recommend reading about Glovo’s customer service strategy →

Originally published in November 2022; last updated in December 2023. 

Written by

Grace Cartwright
Grace is perpetually working on a self-help book entitled ’Where Did I Put My Keys?’. In her free time, she writes for Klaus.

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