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Building Up Your Customer Support Team: The Hidden Costs of Hiring

The time has come to increase your customer support team. Perhaps you’re preparing to release a highly anticipated product. Or your company is growing enough that your existing team can’t keep up. These are good situations to be in, so you want to ensure your next step positions your company for continued growth.

You have many support channels to manage: social, chat, email, phone, app messaging, and more. You’re likely weighing the benefits of hiring in-house versus outsourcing your support needs. While they may seem like apples to apples on the surface, there are some hiring costs you may not have thought about. Let’s walk through a checklist of costs to consider when you’re at this crossroads.

Management

Most likely, your workers have a manager. It may be hard to quantify exactly how much of the manager’s time is spent managing team members, but they’re typically working at a higher pay rate, and that ongoing task is going to represent a significant chunk of their time. You can add that portion of the manager’s salary to the cost of the worker they are managing.

Hiring and Training

When you decide to hire for yourself, you’re keeping your HR team on their toes. They’re tasked with promoting the role, screening and interviewing candidates, checking references, and ultimately making the offer, negotiating, and onboarding. They (and other departments) will then need to spend time training your new hire. In the unfortunate instance your recent hire decides the job is not for them or you’ve made a poor hire, you have to start all over.

Equipment

When staffing up your office space, you need to provide your workers with a desk, office equipment, a computer, software, and internet access. You need maintenance and IT staff to keep your workspace and computer systems running efficiently. You’ll also need to pay for the space itself. Pull it all together, and the costs start to add up.

Occupancy and Utilization

Occupancy and utilization are common buzz words in the customer support arena that are often used interchangeably (and incorrectly). Think of the occupancy rate as a measurement of how productive your agents are, determining how much time they spend supporting customers against their time logged in. A high occupancy percentage suggests that your support staff is being well deployed, not just waiting for the next support request to come in.

Utilization represents the time your agent is working versus the total amount of time you pay them, which includes time for training, breaks, coaching, lunch, etc. Outsourcing with a provider helps with utilization by ensuring that you’re not paying agents for time spent on breaks or participating in company meetings. Do your research — ideally an outsource provider will offer the flexibility to staff peak periods based on volume, rather than be constricted by filling a standard 40-hour work week.

By reviewing the costs and requirements associated with in-house hires, the scope of the decision is perhaps revealed to be larger than one might think. It’s a process that pulls in multiple departments and necessitates a large investment of time and capital. Compare that with an outsourced partner who provides on-demand coverage deployed only during those hours needed (it’s what we call ModSourcing here at ModSquad), rather than conforming to a standard 40-hour work week. It’s an efficient and cost-effective solution, once you break it down logically. And there’s no math required!

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