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Outsourced vs in-house live chat – the pros and cons

TLDR: Outsourcing can be daunting, but chat ran by experts means the results are a lot better and more cost-effective. Handling things in-house means you are in control, but it is more expensive and requires more work and planning. We look at the pros and cons.

Whether to try and handle things in-house or make an investment in outsourcing your live chat can be a daunting decision. Using free software and putting your in-house team on chat could seem like a good way to start out, but will it give you the results you want? Read on for the top pros and cons of handling chat in-house as opposed to outsourcing.

In-house:

Choosing to handle your chat in-house means that you will be responsible for the entire chat operation yourself. You can choose to hire new employees or train existing staff as live chat agents, choose between a number of free and paid live chat software, and write the strategy and conversation flow yourself. 

people smiling and talking around a table in a business meeting

Pros:

  • No need to entrust other people with the face of your brand as everything is handled by your employees only
  • You are in control of every aspect of the operation, from software and set up to the chat process and optimisation

Cons

  • Hiring new agents, paying for software, covering QA/sickness/maternity means in-house chat is significantly more costly
  • Lack of proper training means that in-house teams are not equipped to handle chats effectively, leading to lack of results
  • No one to help you with chat best practice and strategy
  • Most likely unable to cater for out of hours support due to using your in-house team
  • Response times could be low due to no specialised hiring process or training
  • The opportunity cost of moving employees over from other roles or taking much longer to set up and still not getting as good a service as outsourced
  • Only ever being able to do 3 chats at a time so when it’s busy, providing a poor service
  • When it’s quiet, you’re paying someone to talk to no one

Outsourced:

Entrusting a team from outside of the business to speak on behalf of your brand can certainly be a daunting thought, but being able to sit back while the entire operation is handled for you by experts with years of experience could be the difference between great payoff and not seeing results.

two people standing a whiteboard

Pros:

  • Every step of the process is handled for you – implementation, strategy, set up, agents and ongoing improvements
  • Expert advice to assist with queries and keep optimising your strategy
  • A team of dedicated, highly trained and skilled chat agents handle the conversations with best practice, driving results
  • 24/7 out of hours support available to handle chats while you sleep
  • Choose whether to outsource the entire operation or receive consultant advice on certain aspects
  • Lower cost – software, employees, management all covered by chat provider

Cons:

  • A team handling the entire operation to the best of their ability will be an investment, though still cheaper than doing things yourself
  • Entrusting the face of your brand to an outsourced team can be daunting

Read more about live chat outsourcing.

Final thoughts:

If you are a small business, just starting out and very limited with your budget, you could try installing a free chat software and handling in-house, but if you don’t have the budget for a proper chat operation, you may want to consider why you are looking for chat at this time and consider growing your business first.

Many people think that they can simply stick their phone team or other employees onto chat, but in fact, handling chats is a lot trickier than they realise. It requires high quality training and a specialised skill set to see real results, so getting the experts in seriously pays off.

With an experienced team at the helm, you don’t need to second guess your strategy or spend hours coming up with training that you’re not even sure is right, instead, the whole process is handled for you.

Looking for experts to develop your live chat strategy or manage your chat? Find out how we can help.

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