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Startup & Scale-Up

Captive Contact Center VS. CX Outsourcing – Which Is Your Best-Fit CX Option?

Your Guide To Launching A Successful CX Strategy For Your Brand

Depending on your rate of growth, you may be struggling with a singularly important decision: build-out a captive contact center for your CX growing needs, or partner with a CX outsourcer to handle this complex and highly important task for you?

Whether you’re just starting-up or entering hyper-growth mode, an emphasis on your customer needs when making any CX decision is critical to customer retention and acquisition. For reference, customer experience has increasingly grown in priority -- a Forbes Insight Report noted that nearly three-fourths of customers are at least somewhat likely to buy based on experience alone, and 89% of consumers have moved to a competitor following a poor customer experience with a brand. 

When choosing between a captive contact center or an outsourced CX partner, a few things to keep in mind are:

  • Can my CX strategy scale to fit growing customer experience demands?
  • Is it leveraging the resources, like innovative CX technology solutions, to help reach CX goals more quickly and efficiently?
  • Are there enough agents in place? Are they properly armed with the right training and tools to provide continuously improving CX?
  • Am I able to rapidly recruit, hire, and train new agents to meet burst capacity & seasonal CX demands?
  • Does it cater to an omni-channel, 24/7 digital environment? PwC research shows 82% of U.S. consumers and 74% of non-U.S. consumers want more human interaction in the future, so having agents available around the clock can make or break your customers’ experience.

These demands can be overwhelming to any organization. Before choosing a captive contact center or outsourcing your CX to a trusted CX outsourcer, there are several considerations to make. This guide will help you decide whether a captive contact center or outsourcing your CX is the right choice for your customer experience strategy.

What’s the Difference Between Captive Contact Centers and CX Outsourcing?

The key difference between captive contact centers and outsourcing is who provides the human resources to the company. Agents at captive contact centers are company employees. In an outsourcing model, a third party provides the agents. Outsourced agents will perform various CX tasks for your business, but the third party legally employs them. The third-party company handles payroll and provides any benefits to those employees. 

Captive contact centers work in a client-operated facility, and it’s often at an off-shore, low-cost location, but not always. Outsourced companies may also work off-shore, near-shore, or on-shore.



When To Go With CX Outsourcing 

Though outsourcing requires giving up direct organizational control, customer experience leaders worldwide are tapping into it for a reason — it often alleviates pain points associated with rapid hypergrowth while clearing up resources to focus on other CX programs. Here are some ways to determine if it’s right for your customer experience team.

You Needed the Right People Yesterday

Hiring hundreds of customer support agents is an arduous task involving getting a job posting approved, sifting through numerous resumes, conducting interviews that take up time on a CX leader’s already-packed schedule, and finally hiring the agents. The process can take months, and you still have to wait a couple of weeks for agents to start and onboard. 

If your brand is experiencing hypergrowth, you may not have time for this process. An outsourcing model allows you to choose one company and let them handle the hiring.

Cost and Complexity of In-House CX Is Hindering Business

It’s common for companies, particularly early-stage startups, to rely on in-house resources for customer experience tasks. There are several reasons for this choice – brands may feel they will lose their brand voice and culture if they begin to outsource their CX efforts. They may also be new to the CX game, and the costs associated with running this type of complex operation in-house. But as the company scales, CX leaders may find they can no longer keep up with escalating customer demands, and that the cost of their in-house program is impacting their brand’s revenue. At this time, it may be best to consider outsourcing.

Customers Need 24/7/365 Support

Customer obsession is an expectation these days. Brands need to be available to customers when they need support, which may fall outside of the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. What’s more, global brands must keep a wide range of time zones in mind. Sometimes, AI-powered solutions like ChatBots can offer off-hours support — but not always. A CGS survey found that 86% of people preferred to interact with a human over a bot. Third-party companies often have the resources to staff global facilities to ensure customer concerns and questions are addressed efficiently and with a human touch. 

Efficient Training Is Vital

One of the reasons leaders hesitate to outsource resources is the fear that a third party will not provide a customer experience consistent with their brand standards. Training is an essential piece of this puzzle. Giving outsourced agents scripting and tutorials can empower them to buy into CX guidelines.

Outsourcing companies can provide experts in your field -- and you can often find a CX outsourcing partner with proven results in your industry, who can help to guide your CX strategy as you build your relationship and continue to scale business. You’re not starting from zero—these agents have worked with emerging technologies, understand trends, and have managed customer expectations even under high-stress circumstances before. As a result, you can focus on educating the new agents on your brand’s unique needs and not the basics of the job. Additionally, a CX outsourcer can do more than just take on providing customer support. Look for a CX provider who has the right technology suite to quickly ramp on agents, build in technology-driven tools for training and enhancing performance, and are able to share key insights into your program performance with you for continuous improvement. AI and Business Intelligence solutions are critical to your CX operation, and your partner should be armed with CX innovation to grow your program at speed.

You Want to Cut Costs and Risks

Outsourcing isn’t free, but it does allow you to cut costs associated with hiring in-house employees, including benefits. You’ll also hand over some risks, such as finding staffing during an unexpected burst in customer needs or a viral outbreak. 

Reducing these costs and risks allows CX leaders to put their time, budget, and energy into other initiatives like digital migrations and fine-tuning an omnichannel approach.

When To Go With a Captive Contact Center

You know your support operation needs to scale. But is building-out your own contact center the right path? You’ll need to consider your desire for organizational control, the complexity of contact center recruitment and training, and maintain a full grasp of emerging contact center and CX technologies.

Organizational Control Is Crucial

One of the challenges of outsourcing is ensuring that agents, who do not technically work for your company, embrace the corporate culture and the customer experience standards you’ve set. Captive contact centers help alleviate this issue, allowing customer experience leaders to retain control over ensuring associates meet brand guidelines in all dealings with customers. 

Human-Driven Customer Support Needs Are Small

As overwhelming as hyper-growth can be, some companies don’t have the same volume or type of customer support requests. What’s more, emerging technologies, including AI-powered customer experience tools like ChatBots, are becoming more prevalent. Gartner predicts that 70% of customer interactions will involve technologies like machine learning, ChatBots, and mobile messaging by 2022.

Captive contact centers provide a more straightforward solution to companies effectively using these technologies that also have infrequent, simple customer support requests.

Scale Effectively – Regardless of Your Choice

Whether you choose a captive contact center or outsourcing, you’ll want to take a few important steps to ensure you scale efficiently and effectively.

Vet Multiple Prospects

You’ll want to speak with multiple candidates, regardless of which model you choose. Speaking with multiple prospects ensures you find the best ones for your brand.

During the vetting process, ask about: 

  • Experience interacting with customers in your particular industry 
  • Support volumes they’ve managed 
  • Familiarities with technologies, like AI and ticketing systems
  • What metrics they use to determine success. 

Set Clear KPIs 

Data is a crucial tool in evaluating the effectiveness of captive contact centers and outsourced agents. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), Customer Dissatisfaction (DSAT), Net Promoter Scores (NPS), and Customer Churn Rate (CCR) are some common metrics CX leaders use to measure success.

Deliver Second-to-None Training

Training takes time, but it’s an investment in your company. According to Qualtrics XM Institute research, only 1 in 5 customers will forgive a bad experience at a company with “very poor” customer service. On the other hand, about 4 in 5 customers will forgive a bad experience if they felt the customer service was “very good.”

Customers should feel like they’re speaking with a trusted friend and expert every step of the way. If an agent is distracted by technological issues or unsure of brand guidelines, they won’t provide superior support to a customer. Here’s how to ensure your agents are ready to start interacting with your customers from the first engagement:

  • Equip and train them on technologies they’ll need to do their jobs
  • Run tutorials and scripting to ensure customer interactions remain consistent
  • Track and monitor agent interactions with customers and use it to provide continuing training and learning opportunities.


Rapid hypergrowth is overwhelming and exciting. Hiring more agents is a way to scale while continuing to exceed customer expectations. Captive contact centers and outsourcing provide two distinct options. Captive contact centers are employed by brands, often in a nondomestic location. Brands can maintain organizational control, and these centers may provide a more straightforward and cost-effective option to companies that have mastered emerging technologies and do not receive complicated customer support requests. 

On the other hand, outsourcing requires companies to give up some control, which they can mitigate with exceptional training programs and leaned-in client services teams. But outsourcing often allows companies to scale faster and find more experienced agents. 

Regardless of your choice, vet prospects, set clear KPIs, and develop a comprehensive onboarding program to keep everyone on the same page about your customer experience expectations. The goal is to provide customers with consistently positive experiences with your brand at every touchpoint and on every channel.


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