How to Balance In-House vs. Outsourced Customer Service Teams

Gladly Team

Read Time

4 minute read

CX leaders have long relied on outsourced customer service teams — also called business process outsourcing (BPO) call centers — to provide additional CX resources. This practice is especially common during busy seasons, like the holidays. But while BPOs can provide a quick boost of temporary agents, there could be more cost-effective and sustainable ways to improve capabilities and productivity across the board.

In this post, we’ll take a close look at:

  • The value and shortcomings of customer service BPOs
  • How outsourced customer service teams fit into an overall CX strategy
  • What investing in your internal staff can do to help offset your budget
  • How to apply AI to bolster in-house and outsourced CX work

By the end, you’ll be able to pinpoint a perfect balance between the two resources and provide the optimal customer service experiences your customers love about your brand.

Why Brands Use Outsourced Customer Service

Customer service BPOs can be a life-saver for small to midsize brands that need a boost for busy seasons, the launch of new products, or other spikes in demand. BPOs can fill an immediate need to keep customer service operations running smoothly without overwhelming agents or frustrating customers.

Few things can beat outsourcing support as a short-term solution, but BPOs aren’t a long-term fix for actively growing brands that are not just seeing momentary spikes in sales. Consider how you can continue leveraging your BPO partner, while also filling the gaps in CX that can occur as your business scales.

Why Brands Might Avoid Outsourced Customer Service

1. Brands want to secure their customer data

The management and security of customer data is important for retailers to protect. Bringing in a BPO invites a third-party partner to utilize this information, which, while necessary to maintain a standard of care and personalization, forces leaders to accept a certain level of risk.

Read more: Customer Data Management Principles

2. Hiring surges get costly, quick

Outsourcing support from customer service BPOs might be temporarily necessary during holidays and buying surges. However, paying for BPOs is costly over time as hourly labor for call center workers is becoming more expensive than ever before. CFOs must make substantial decisions about the future of their support staff, and balance internal and external agents accordingly.

3. Brands need well-versed agents at the frontlines

Because brands need BPO support in a pinch, there may not be time for training to reinforce brand and product knowledge. When staffing stress is running high, this is less of a concern — but over time, relying too heavily on BPOs can bring down the quality of your customer service due to the lack of expertise on your front lines.

Read more: 3 Customer Service Agent Training Tips for Product Expertise

Balancing Your CX With BPOs and Long-Term Solutions

To sustainably maximize your support staff, think about the issues you intend to solve with BPOs. Those same problems — overworked agents, logjams in service, and dissatisfied customers — will continue to harm your brand if you don’t invest in a CX infrastructure from the ground up that balances internal and external solutions.

1. Focus on training your in-house team

For instance, while quality control can be difficult with outsourced partners, your internal, full-time agents who are already experts can be better utilized. Spending time during less busy seasons to train them on your catalog, and even encouraging them to upsell and cross-sell to excited customers, will improve their performance and overall quality when those high-volume seasons come. This level of continued white-glove service is vital in the loyalty economy, where high-end CX is more important than ever before.

Read more: Signs You Should Grow Your Investment in Customer Service

2. Bolster in-house support staff with AI

AI can solve the same issues as BPOs by empowering full-time agents to accomplish more individually without experiencing burnout. AI shouldn’t be feared — in fact, investing in AI year-round can help you stave off the need for BPOs until it’s absolutely necessary.

With Gladly Hero AI, the mundane tasks of agent work get automated — such as pulling quick questions, solutions, and even writing up summaries of calls and conversations. Plus, Gladly Sidekick maximizes self-service, providing customers with AI-powered support to answer their simple requests at all hours of the day.

Filling the Gaps of Customer Service BPOs

Investing in BPOs can provide a temporary solution to gaps in service. By complementing your spending on BPOs with AI-driven CX, you’ll be able to maximize your existing workforce in a way that’s far more sustainable.

To see how intelligent CX solutions can empower your internal staff, try a demo of Gladly AI tools and see what your support center is missing.


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