Your email backlog is longer than a CVS receipt, call volumes are skyrocketing, and the company is growing faster than your current employee count can manage. However, the most challenging (and the worst) of it all is that your CSAT is starting to tip in the wrong direction. All of these signs and more have made you realize that you need a cost-effective way to manage your customer service operations. More and more companies recognize that, although they are great at providing a product or service, providing support for it is an entirely different animal. Some of the world’s leading companies like Amazon and Hootsuite, amongst others, use outsourced support vendors, and it has been a critical component of their massive success.
Outsourcing can be the key to completely transforming and transcending your business–but only if you pick the right company. As your partner and sidekick for all things outsourcing, growth, and customer experience, we’ve put together the top 5 things you need to know before you lock hands with a BPO (business process outsourcing) partner.
5 Steps to Finding the Best Outsourcing Partner
#1 Your Partner Should Be a Cultural Fit
Cultural fit is number one on our list and for a good reason. This goes beyond the conventional, ‘Do they treat their employees well?’ thought process. While reviewing proposals from different outsourcing partners, make sure you don’t have tunnel vision on service-level agreements. Connect with their operations, recruitment, and culture teams to ensure there is alignment between your brands. After all, your vendor is an extension of your brand and has the intimate position to turn your customers into raving fans.
Ask the tough questions. What’s their approach to employee coaching and development? Gaining an understanding of their outlook on situational leaders, promotions, accountability, and quality are also great conversation starters into finding out if you both see eye-to-eye culturally. Chances are you survey your internal employees on their satisfaction, yet the vast majority of brands don’t mandate their vendors do the same. Why? Good question.
Another great way to determine a cultural fit is to visit their operations so you can “feel” their culture firsthand and determine if its an authentic part of their corporate strategy. Conversely, invite the vendor to your office and be open in showing them your expectations. This transparent and candid approach is what paves the road to a solid partnership. Read this real-life story about a well-known company who was a first-time outsourcer and what their path to success looked like in finding cultural alignment.
#2 You Should See an Immediate ROI
Although some of your expected return will take time to be realized, there is one ROI you should see immediately: Input. It might seem simple, but it is an initial, essential, and valuable aspect of your investment with them. When partnering with a third party, you have two sets of eyes on your challenges and opportunities as it relates to all things customer experience. If you don’t get input right away on how to optimize aspects of your business, note it as a red flag.
In time, this will materialize to more significant returns. Optimizing your CX operations has a direct impact on customer satisfaction, agent productivity, and your company’s ability to scale. Ultimately, it transforms your customer experience into your company’s greatest asset. And, it all starts with your vendor’s willingness to be that transformational partner and provide immediate input.
#3 Location, Location, Location
Geographic location is an important aspect to consider when selecting a vendor and should be determined by your business objectives and the type of support you need. First, think globally and broadly; don’t restrict yourself by immediately dismissing offshore or nearshore locations because high-quality support can be achieved beyond onshore locations.
Now that you haven’t ruled out any location, there are distinct benefits that come from specific regions like languages capacities, technical skills, cultural similarities, compliance regulations, extended hours of operation, and ease of access which should be considered depending on the industry and type of support you need. The pros, cons, and nuances of selecting a location is far too much to go into here. Look out for a future article that discusses this, and in the meantime, contact me to review your specific inquiries.
#4 Cheap Outsourcing Usually Isn’t Good Outsourcing
In some regards, outsourcing is like getting a tattoo; good tattoos aren’t cheap and cheap tattoos aren’t good. And, the same goes for your customer experience solutions. Be wary of any vendor that is priced too low as this is often an indicator that they don’t invest in their employees – a very costly mistake in the long run.
A clear way to investigate this is to see how transparent they are about sharing their employee satisfaction (if they measure it), attrition, tenure, and referral rate. If they are willing, that demonstrates the pride in their performance, if not, consider it a red flag.
The first piece of data you should ask for is their employee satisfaction scores and how they have changed over time. Ask specifically what they do to affect these scores and how their executive leadership is invested in continually improving this.
Next, ask for their attrition rate. The BPO industry has one of the highest attrition rates out of any industry, but you don’t have to accept that as a known pitfall. When businesses do not invest in their employees you can expect high attrition rates which illustrates a much bigger picture that they are not investing in their company either which is bad for your business. To make a well-informed decision, make sure they can dice the data into voluntary and involuntary attrition along with promotions to ensure that you have a complete picture of their past turnover. Tenure, the flipside of attrition, should also be studied. Higher average tenure demonstrates how willing employees are to grow with the company and its leaders while low average tenure is an indication of poor internal operations and management.
Lastly, to be thorough, also ask what their current employee referral percentage is as this will also help you to gain a better understanding of their culture. The logic here is simple: If you’re unhappy with your company, you certainly won’t refer your friends to work there (because you’re not a lousy friend). This can be a symptom of underlying issues that you want to get ahead of early on.
Of course, as with any statistical analysis, it’s crucial to also inquire about how these metrics are taken. You might see discrepancies across vendors that might make it hard to compare apples-to-apples.
#5 Addressing Internal Concerns About Outsourcing
Sometimes, the hardest part about getting anything implemented is achieving the buy-in from your team. Although you know the value of outsourcing, your colleagues might have some reservations about using someone outside of the company to support your business. So what is the key to overcoming this challenge? Be transparent.
One of the most common grumbles you might hear from current employees is that they assume they will be replaced, and often this assumption is untrue. It is common for a company to partner with a BPO but still keep their current, internal support staff for escalations. In turn, this provides employees with a higher quality of work since they will be handling more critical aspects of CX- not to mention a lighter workload. In other cases, employees are moved into different departments or promoted into new roles that continue to support the ongoing efforts of the business. Ask your prospective vendor how they will integrate with your existing team and operations. To learn by example, check out this brief case study about how an outsourcing partner built trust and a culture of excellence that bridged gaps and got results.
The Search Is Not Over
Whether you are a first-time outsourcer or a seasoned veteran, finding a partner can be an overwhelming and daunting task that can appear risky. However, don’t let these challenges deter you from scaling your business wisely. We hope this post has given you some thought starters, but we recognize there are a lot of qualifying questions and components in finding the right partner, so we created this free, editable scorecard that you can use while evaluating companies here.
When it comes to customer experience outsourcing or customer experience consulting, TaskUs is your go-to partner. If you’re curious about or are considering outsourcing, or simply interested in talking to a customer experience consultant to see where you stand next to your competition, let’s talk.
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