a person hanging a Help Wanted sign in response to the US Labor Shortage

Managing the US Labor Shortage: How Outsourced Call Centers Can Help Alleviate the Pressure

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Amidst the Great Resignation, the rise of remote work, the ongoing US labor shortage, mass layoffs and more, the turbulent market is wreaking havoc on many businesses operations and staff stability. 

While a larger, more structural solution is necessary for the long-term, could outsourcing be the short-term solution businesses need for today’s problems? 

Outsourcing provides a flexible, scalable and affordable solution for companies to augment existing staff or scale up staffing as necessary, bypass the ups and downs of the US labor market, and create a steady, sustainable solution to reduce employee burnout and improve business performance. 

If you’re considering outsourcing as a way to manage the US labor shortage, here’s what you need to know—and what to consider before choosing an outsourcing partner. 

The Impact of the US Labor Shortage on Businesses

As the labor shortage continues, it’s not just open roles that are difficult to fill—existing employees are also harder to retain. Employees are struck with the reality that the grass could be greener elsewhere, making retention challenging, while new employees are harder to find and more expensive to hire. It’s the age-old story of supply and demand. And as workers continue to have the upper hand with demand, wages and benefits required to attract and retain employees increase as well. 

In addition, with reduced new and existing staff as hiring becomes difficult or existing staff leave for (perceived) greener pastures, remaining staff are often left with increased workloads. Not only does this reduce employee satisfaction, further undermining retention efforts, but it also negatively impacts results. 

As a result, the business impact of the US labor shortage isn’t contained to just hiring and retaining employees—it ends up directly impacting the bottom line. This is even more so for call centers—as employee workload increases, employee satisfaction and performance suffers, reducing quality of customer service and business performance on the whole. As customer service quality suffers, businesses see reduced CSAT and service levels, leading to a negative business cycle that impacts the bottom line. 

In addition, with fewer employees, there’s more work to do just to stay afloat and less room for innovation and experimentation—which means your business spends the majority of its time simply keeping up, rather than innovating and outpacing competitors. 

Unfortunately, it’s difficult for businesses to escape this cycle. Since businesses tighten wallets when the bottom line is impacted, they often end up preventing hiring that would help reduce workloads, improve service levels and increase innovation. And with the current labor shortage, even businesses who are keen on hiring additional help to alleviate these negative impacts are struggling to do so.  

The Advantages of Outsourced Call Centers in Addressing the US Labor Shortage

So what’s the solution? 

Compared to the negative impacts of the labor shortage on business performance and customer service, outsourcing offers an alternative. 

US Labor MarketOutsourced Call Centers
continual ebbs and flows, current labor shortage makes hiring difficult and expensivehighly skilled and expansive labor market, not subject to US ebbs and flows
difficult and expensive to scale easier to scale and implement new solutions quickly
hiring and retaining staff is difficultflexible solutions can be short or long-term, allowing you to pay for only what you need
in-house teams are costly and require significant overheadoutsourcing is significantly more affordable than hiring in-house

While the US market is subject to frequent ebbs and flows, outsourcing protects your business from many of these variations. In exchange for an expensive and difficult labor market, with outsourcing you get access to a highly-skilled workforce that’s much larger, easier to access and more affordable than the US workforce.

Some outsourcing options, such as nearshore call centers, allow you to tap into a workforce that’s extremely familiar with, and accustomed to, US customs and language, while benefiting from a larger, more affordable workforce. 

In addition, with flexible outsourcing solutions available, you can pay for only what you use and scale up and down throughout the year as necessary to support business goals and improve service levels while managing your budget. As a result, outsourcing a call center makes it much easier to get your call center operations up and running right away, or to scale quickly as needed. Other flexible options, like blended, hybrid or shared models can provide support for your internal team—reducing individual workloads, improving employee satisfaction and retention, and supporting service levels—without the hassle or expense of hiring in the US. 

Finally, outsourcing is significantly cheaper than hiring in-house, allowing your business to maintain service levels and necessary staff even in lean times. It’s also more efficient—since outsourcing is easy to scale, you can scale quickly to meet demand and then pare back once your peak season has ended.

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How Outsourced Call Centers Can Help Businesses Address Labor Shortages

Aside from addressing the US labor shortage directly with additional workforce, how can businesses use outsourced call centers to reduce negative impacts from the labor shortages? 

Outsourcing provides many benefits, but also a host of solutions—here are three key ways to use outsourcing to alleviate labor shortage impacts. 

  1. Offload non-core business functions.

By offloading non-core business functions to an outsourced team, you solve two problems created by the labor shortage: 

  • reducing workloads on internal staff, thus increasing employee satisfaction and retention, and
  • freeing up space for internal teams to focus more on innovation and critical strategy, pushing your business forward and staying ahead of competitors

Common non-core functions to outsource include call center services, customer support, outbound marketing and sales, surveys and data gathering, data analytics and so on. Many businesses also use BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) to support internal teams with workflows and administrative tasks like data entry, appointment setting, payments processing and so on. 

  1. Improve service levels during peak periods.

One of outsourcing’s core benefits is providing an affordable solution to scaling. If you’re using workforce management systems effectively, you should have an adequate understanding of your scheduling needs from WFM forecasting tools. Once you know when your peak periods are, you can better understand when to support internal teams with outsourced teams. An outsourced call center can serve as a backup for call overflow, allowing you to easily maintain service levels and CSAT, even during your busiest periods. 

  1. Reduce gaps in current staffing and capabilities.

When hiring is difficult, gaps in staffing capabilities can create blockages and breakdowns in workflows that can be costly for your company, reducing service levels and stymying results. With outsourcing, you can augment existing staff to reduce gaps and keep workflows running smoothly, whether you need specialized knowledge (BPO) or just more hands on deck. 

Filling in gaps on your existing team with outsourcing can allow you to: 

  • improve service levels and KPIs
  • implement more detailed data analytics and QA processes 
  • reduce customer communications backlogs 
  • access specialized expertise and experienced practitioners for a fraction of the cost

For example, when Lacoste realized they needed additional support to offer the range of solutions they needed for top-notch service, they turned to Global Response’s outsourced teams to fill in the gaps they found. Global Response’s teams came on board to deliver state-of-the-art technology, manage Lacoste’s click-to-call and click-to-chat services, and boost online conversions and customer retention through the highest quality customer service. 

Key Considerations for Outsourcing Call Center Services

Of course, all of these benefits and solutions aren’t a given—the key to success with outsourcing is choosing the right partner. Keep in mind these key considerations when choosing an outsourcing vendor to ensure a successful partnership:

Look for effective communication. 

If your communication isn’t clear from the beginning, it likely won’t get any better as you begin working together. Instead, look for outsourcing partners that have clear, consistent communication and workflow processes from the beginning of your search. 

Find a partner you can stay involved with.

Vendor management shouldn’t be a set-it-and-forget-it process—instead, you need to be actively involved throughout the process. Location can make a big difference in this factor—if your outsourcing provider is located in the Philippines, for example, it will make it much more difficult to be actively involved in managing and collaborating with your provider. In addition, ensure that their systems and tech stack and integrate with your own. 

Look for established QA processes. 

Any call center needs to have Quality Assurance processes in place to maintain and improve service levels over time. While a QA process can come from your own internal team or from an outsourced team, you need to have integrated processes and KPIs across teams so you can ensure service levels and quality is consistent, no matter who answers the phone. An outsourced team with an effective QA process will be able to demonstrate that they are able and committed to maintaining or exceeding your service levels. 

For example, when teams work with Global Response, they get access to our world-class agents and QA processes that often make a massive impact on service levels. When we partnered with ASICS, our team was able to deliver a 130% increase in service levels, well above the set target, as well as improve speed of answer by more than 40%. 

Ensure cultural and linguistic compatibility. 

This matters for both your internal teams and your customers. Customers expect to reach agents with a high level of language fluency, and internal teams need compatibility among workplace culture and internal communication expectations and norms to collaborate effectively. 

Nearshore call centers typically offer more compatibility—both linguistically and culturally—than offshore call centers, so again, be sure to consider location carefully when vetting your potential providers. Not only will this make collaboration easier, but it also improves CSAT by reducing AHT, improving FCR, and making customers feel more connected and understood by your brand.

Is Outsourcing Right for My Business?

If you’re struggling to maintain the workforce or service levels you need with the current US labor shortage, outsourcing can be an effective way to combat the negative effects of labor shortages on your business. 

While the labor shortage often creates: 

  • difficulty hiring and retaining employees
  • expensive recruiting and hiring costs
  • long recruitment-to-onboarding timelines, making it difficult to scale
  • increased employee workloads and reduced employee satisfaction 
  • reduced CSAT and service levels

Outsourcing can provide an antidote to many of these problems: 

  • larger workforce not subject to the US labor market’s ebbs and flows
  • more affordable, high quality workforce
  • flexible solutions and easy scalability 
  • support for internal teams and gaps in your team’s expertise
  • improved service levels, CSAT and overall performance

For an outsourcing team you can trust with everything from BPO to customer service to QA processes and more, reach out to Global Response. Our brand specialists can deliver the service you need while helping you scale effortlessly. Connect with an expert from Global Response today to see how we can help you achieve your business goals.

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