Customer service is key, 60% of people are put off by a bad experience
At the start, many people hire a local contractor for €300/month, but if you're not lucky, you may scare off other customers.
A specialized agency will cost you between 500-1000 euros/month. “An agency’s charges are most often based on volume, where, for example, a well-established online shop that handles around 500 customer conversations per month will pay around €1,000 for outsourcing customer care,” explains Tomáš Vrtík. Expandeco offers a basic service for EUR 300–350 per month within one market, with the package including 50 communications, a local phone number, substitutability and the ability to be available every working day. If the number of communications is more than 50, they are charged at the list price of approx. EUR 1.30– 1.40 per communication. Both Vrtík and Expandeco clients see this as a fair model for both parties, where it is possible to keep the cost of customer support below EUR 500 in the off-season and only seasonally when the customer line needs to be boosted.
When building your own team, expect to pay around EUR 6,000-8,000 per month. This will pay off for the larger players as a base for further expansion in the region.
Customer support should also be localised, remember a local telephone number.
Livechats and social media are rather standard in our market, in other CEE countries they can become your competitive advantage.
A properly UX-ed website will avoid confusion (and users leaving). Pay attention to sufficient product descriptions, shipping methods, payment and FAQ.
A lot of successful players have different variants for different markets and it works great for them. - Tomáš Vrtík, Managing Partner of Expandeco
According to Microsoft research, up to 60% of customers are put off by a poor customer support experience and do not make further purchases in an online shop. A satisfied customer is the ticket to long-term market establishment, so focus on good customer service right from the start. Eliminate even seemingly minor barriers to communication: from day one in the new market, have an active phone line with a local phone number and a local bank account.
From freelancer to agency to in-house team? And what if you can skip each stage?
According to Tomáš Vrtík, Expandeco's boss, there are several options for building customer care, and one can over time spill over into another. But it doesn't mean you have to move on from the seemingly “cheapest” option. On the contrary, our goal is to challenge you to choose the ideal solution straight away. Which one will it be?
Hiring a freelancer present in the country (or has live, constant contact with it), knows the local customs and has the skills to work in a customer care position, is accompanied by the lowest price (around EUR 300 per month). But at the same time, you are faced with the challenge of finding such a person in a market where you are just starting out, building the right processes and systems to ensure that this person, for whom you are likely to be one of the clients (we assume that if you were to get the most out of them, you would adopt them straight into the team), works efficiently in a motivated manner. When setting up your working style, also bear in mind that certain customer care channels are busier at certain times (telephone from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm), while others operate non-stop or are more frequently used in the evenings and at weekends.
Online shoppers have already experienced and believe that even support can be outsourced in the long term, that the quality of care is assured if you have good systems and a serious partner.
A clear trend after the pandemic: Outsourcing customer care to an agency
A popular strategy, especially nowadays, is outsourcing. “Online shoppers have already experienced and believe that even support can be outsourced in the long term, that the quality of care is assured if you have good systems and a serious partner,” perceives Managing Director at Expandeco Tomas Vrtik, adding that the pandemic has further blurred the distinction between having your own team working remotely from Budapest or handing over responsibility to companies like Expandeco, covering 14 languages and they reporting everything to you. The advantage of outsourcing to experts is that they know the local language at a native speaker level. They are very well versed in the local market, which is a guarantee for you that communication with your customer will be adequate to their expectations. They know the nuances of each market, possess efficient ticketing processes and can help you set up the ideal process on your end. In the era of social media, for example, it might seem that phone and email are obsolete, but 40% of customers resolve their queries by email, and in Romania, for example, customers expect only phone communication, which is also proactive on the side of the online shop. “For the most demanding clients we provide fast response to an e-mail within 1 hour,” says Karin Foltánová, Head of Customer Support at Expandeco.