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How E-Commerce Growth is Changing Contact Centre Operations


Understanding why the rise in online shopping has led to more outsourcing, and what that means for retailers

Many common modern-day technologies and current events have directly led to a decline in popularity of in-store experiences. Thanks to improved shipping, wider selection online and world events like the Covid-pandemic, we’ve seen 93% of UK consumers shop for goods and services online during 2021.

In this article we will be focusing on why the huge growth in e-commerce has led to the increase in outsourcing of contact centre operations and what this means for customer experience, revenue and costs.

The revenue squeeze: higher competition, higher returns, higher complaints

Already tight revenue margins are squeezed tighter yet because of higher competition between e-commerce platforms. To make it worse it’s proven that customers are equally likely to leave if they have a bad customer service experience online as they were in-person.

Statistics also show that return rates in brick-and-mortar stores are around 8% whereas for e-commerce this jumps to around 25% (most likely due to situations where people are not able to try on clothes or physically hold products whilst ordering online). This increases contact centre demand and depending on how easy it is for customers to make returns, can have a negative impact on revenue in the long-term as well as short-term.

Due to recent world events and the increase vulnerable customers, the number of customers calling in with problems has increased dramatically, with 13% of UK citizens making a complaint in 2021. With more people calling into contact centres, it is even more vital that the quality of the customer support is high enough to deal with any queries swiftly.

Why are retailers outsourcing more?

Due to the evolution of technology and recent world events that have pushed society to become more familiar with these new technologies, the demand of in-store experiences has shifted towards e-commerce.

This increase demand coupled with consumers having higher expectations for customer service has lead to a surge in the amount of companies that choose to outsource contact centre services. Outsourcing contact centres (and therefore your customer service), comes with some unique pros and cons.

Pros of contact centre outsourcing

  • The cost of outsourcing should be significantly lower compared to running a contact centre
  • Your company save time and money as recruitment, training, and managing of a team of agents is not required
  • Outsourced contact centres can often provide customer support 24/7 due to lower costs, particularly if offshore
  • There is a higher likelihood that any overflow of calls during busy periods can be handled by other outsourcers

Cons of contact centre outsourcing

  • There may be additional security and privacy concerns to consider whilst handling customer data
  • Less control over customer interactions can lead to decreased customer satisfaction depending on the quality of outsourcing
  • Cultural barriers and lack of knowledge of the company can impair communication between customer and support
  • There is less communication between internal departments and agents, meaning decreased opportunities for customer feedback

Many companies promise excellent delivery times and customer service on their e-commerce platforms, Amazon being the main goliath. In Amazon’s case they consistently deliver on their promises, meaning people all over the globe have significantly higher expectations when it comes to the standard of customer service that contact centre agents provide. So, when a contact centre does not meet expectations, the quality of the entire company feels significantly worse.

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