We’ve already talked about why outsourcing partnerships fail, but what are the top attributes of partnerships that stand the test of time?
In our 12+ years’ experience in outsourcing partnerships, with challenger and Fortune 500 brands, 5 key steps have emerged as critical in building a strong foundation for success:
Partnerships are formed based on certain circumstances and the priorities you had when you set out to find an outsourcing vendor. Circumstances change, however. Markets and opportunities change, and that is when the true value of your partnerships is tested.
A flexible partnership will thrive even in the most tumultuous of times, having the tools in place to withstand the impact of big changes. Flexibility in outsourcing partnerships can take multiple forms:
Adopting gain-share pricing models that allow both partners to thrive when service delivery drives growth;
Reacting swiftly to process changes and not being bogged down by overly complex organizational structures and rigid governance models;
Adapting collaborative recruitment strategy, quality assurance, and training programs based on outcomes and mutual input.
Another aspect of flexibility lies in the genuine interest in your partner’s organizational culture. This could mean a lot of things. From employee breaks to setting meetings, and just the general way your prospective partner works, it’s important to gauge how well your cultures will work together. Most likely, there will be a third culture created between you – a harmonious middle-ground in which your partnership can thrive.
A good example of how flexibility can be a driver of success, is that of one of our clients, a global internet service provider for the hospitality industry. Following organizational changes within our client’s company, Conectys had to absorb three times the usual multilingual Tier 1 and Tier 2 tech support volumes, with a weeks’ notice. It also meant a ramp-up in capacity to over 100 outsourced technical support agents. Without the flexibility to make that shift a success, both companies would have been negatively affected and, more importantly, the end-customer would have felt it too.
2. Partnered Approach
When companies work together, they create a collaborative enterprise, in which they bring their assets to the table and unite under a shared purpose. In a collaborative enterprise every aspect of the outsourcing partnership is communicated and agreed upon by both parties. Strong indicators of a healthy, vibrant partnered approach could include:
Transparency and communication: once value and expectations has been defined, progress needs to be transparent and available in close to real-time. The focus will be on open communication and the leverage of technologies that enable a real-time view into the outsourced operations, thus shifting of the outsourcing partnership model from a legacy “black box” configuration to a collaborative and open Business Process as a Service (BPaaS) paradigm.
Collaborative recruitment, making sure that you add the right people to the team, which will drive your success in the long run. This collaborative approach to recruitment allows you to have control over the types of employees you’d like to become your brand champions. Your provider should deliver on those expectations, while you will be free to exercise your veto right.
Collaborative quality assurance and calibration included in the partnership governance model.
Real-time Net Promoter Score (NPS) to gauge the partnership’s success and feed key market and consumer behavior shift to the client.
We owe our company’s growth, from a regional player to an award-wining, global outsourcing organization, to our clients’ and our relentless belief in our mission statement: “We succeed through our customer’s success”.
In the words of Johan Thorbecke, “Trust comes on foot, but leaves on horseback.” In other words, trust is difficult to build and easy to lose. That said, there are many rewards to be gained when you partner with a trustworthy company.
Mutual trust is key here. As important as it is for you to trust the company you choose to partner with, it’s just as important for them to trust you. Alignment between both parties’ objectives and expectations are key in building a successful partnership. Unrealistic expectations and incompatible objectives can snuff the flame of a potentially great partnership. Therefore, setting the right expectations from the get-go will also help you build trust with your partner.
As noted above, another driver of trust is transparency throughout all the stages of the partnership’s integration, and beyond.
For example, aside from open and honest communication at all levels, from agent to CEO, Conectys also provides a fully transparent, bespoke customer engagement and analytics platform, ConectysOS. Clients can track SLAs (Service Levels) and CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) indicators in real time, enabling them to make informed and swift changes to products and policies based on end consumer feedback. This not only creates a new level of trust, but it also builds an outcome-driven partnership.
A successful outsourcing partnership has a deeper focus, beyond KPIs (Key Performing Indicators). It looks beyond numbers and figures, and focuses on what’s truly important: your core business’ success. This orientation towards the core business leads to greater business value, as well as a more positive impact on the end-customer.
Outcome-orientation is easier said than done and to successfully achieve it, every effort on both sides need to be aligned toward this goal. The focus is on value, which can be translated into cash-flows, market growth, advocacy, and automation.
An outcome-oriented governance model and a culture of challenging the status quo takes the outsourcing partnership and end-results to a new level. Implementations of outcome-oriented partnerships include:
Outcome based pricing models;
Advocacy and organic sales growth through measurable impact of NPS in customer loyalty;
Reducing cost of service through holistic self-service portals and automation.
Pay-as-You-Go pricing models, with Opex perfectly aligned to seasonal volumes and capacity change.
The outsourcing industry is currently going through a massive transformation.
Making innovation part of your governance model and striving for simplification needs to be the mantra. Start with establishing a team to design the partnership innovation framework and measurable outcomes, and continue with diligent execution.
One of the more powerful innovation trends in outsourcing is automation. It increases efficiency, lowers the risk of errors, improves customer experience, and drives value. Top outsourcing vendors are capitalizing on third party technologies for automation or even building their own solutions.
ConectysOS is our own contribution to the continuously evolving outsourcing industry. Through this insights engine, clients have access to real-time actionable intelligence, lowering cost and increasing agent productivity, by upskilling them from tedious tasks that are susceptible to human error. Innovation through automation can build a strong level of trust, pivotal to any partnership.
Building a strong and successful outsourcing partnership isn’t an easy task. However, by having the right information and resources, you can create a collaboration that will drive your business to new levels of success.
When it comes to successful outsourcing partnerships, the journey starts with a well thought out vendor selection process, and our BPO selection workbook aims to make that process easier.
Publish Date: September 12, 2016 5:00 AM
Three Major Changes and Two that will Shape the Future
Tim Berners-Lee, an English computer scientist, wrote a proposal for a distributed information system, and, on March 12th, 1989, he submitted it to CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research). That information system came to be known as the World Wide Web.
On July 28th, we celebrated 10,000 days of Internet and how it’s changed our lives. It's also changed the way we do business and, more importantly, the way we relate to our customers.
Here are the three of the most important things that the advent of the Internet has changed about the way we do customer service and two that will shape it in years to come.
1. Customer Feedback
If in the past a bad customer experience could have gone unnoticed by the masses, these days a bad customer review can seriously damage a brand's trust, with the push of a button. We've all seen bad restaurant reviews and decided not to reserve a table, or poor customer experience with a service provider and decided against paying for their services.
Statistically, one happy customer will share their experience with around 9 people. By contrast, for every customer who complains, there are, on average, 26 other unsatisfied customers who don’t communicate their frustrations. This means that the key to improving your customer experience lies in that one single complaint, which offers you an insight in what might be bothering a lot more people.
Meanwhile, 76% of customers see customer service as being proof of how much a company values them (2015 Aspect Consumer Experience Survey).
2. Digital Communication
Social media has become a key customer service channel and a great asset to your business, if used to its full potential. With the aid of the internet, customers can now reach out to you through any social media platform, as long as you meet them on their preferred channel. To provide them with anything but a swift, personalized response would be a big mistake. At the end of the day, the way you handle customers' issues with your products has a deeper impact than the issues themselves.
According to customer experience consultancy firm, thinkJar, 55% of customer requests for service on social media are not acknowledged. Missing out on these opportunities to increase customer loyalty and create brand advocates should not be an option. Moreover, 67% of consumers say they use Twitter and Facebook for customer service. Meet your customers where they are and you will be rewarded.
Conectys' customer service contact volume through social media where close to 2% in June 2016, across all industries. It's also become increasingly important for clients in the e-commerce and customer products industries, in which social media accounts can account for up to 30% of total contacts.
The internet has not only made it easier for us to communicate with one another, it's also made information readily available for anyone, at any time, and from any device. We can now find out everything we want to know about the world around us in the time it takes our search engine to display its results. And with information at your fingertips, it's easy to see why customer self-service has become so popular.
More and more people want to help themselves, rather than call a company's support line for answers. Between FAQs and forums, there is no shortage of methods a company can use to help customers help themselves.
Moreover, according to the 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report, “90% of consumers now expect a brand or organization to offer a self-service customer support portal.” This should tell you everything you need to know about whether or not you should be implementing self-service tools.
Your outsourced customer service partner should see self-service as an opportunity of business growth through leading customer experience and needs to drive your self-service strategy at the expense of short term wins.
What does the future hold?
1. Omnichannel approach
A couple of months ago, we published a blog post about what omnichannel is and why you should care. While it’s been around for a while, mostly used in retail, it's still taking its first steps into the realm of mass adoption in customer experience.
With information being so widely available and communication happening on multiple channels, customers look for speedy resolutions to their issues on all channels and platforms, not just on social media. They also expect you to know the issues they've communicated in the past, regardless of channel, and for you to be prepared with solutions without the pain of repeated communication. Creating a personalized experience for your customers on all the channels they use to get in touch with you will become the norm in the future.
However, as of the end of 2015, less than 1% of companies are implementing, or have implemented an omnichannel approach to their customer service. Of those, only 23% of companies doing multi-channel well.
Conectys' omnichannel approach (for one its flagship global clients in the gaming industry) has improved Net Promoter Scores (customer loyalty) to above 60 in Europe, a great indication of the company's future growth.
Automation is as hailed as it is hated, but the fact remains that it makes processes easier for companies and reduces errors. The idea of automation is not to replace workforce, but to create an increased value for everyone involved. The customer will have access to answers faster, the company will have a first line of defense set in place for customer support, and employees will no longer have to spend time on repetitive tasks, but improve their skills for more complex, high-value work. Coupled with a strong self-service base, automation has the potential do decrease the contact to agent ration significantly if implemented.
You can also automate other time-consuming processes, such as customer satisfaction surveys (Net Promoter Score, Customer Effort Score, First Contact Resolution). This will give you access to key consumer insights in real-time, allowing you to improve your strategies on-the-go, meaning a better customer experience in the long run. Just remember: automate your processes, not your relationships with your customers.
In what other ways do you think the Internet has changed customer service?
Looking for an outsourcing provider to take your customer service into the future? Find out how to choose the perfect vendor for your company!
Publish Date: July 28, 2016 5:00 AM
In the myriad of new marketing buzzwords that seem to pop-up out of the blue every day, there are a few that might not be so annoyingly visible, but that we should take note of as being more than words to fluff up your marketing content with.
One such word is omni-channel.
We can’t really talk about omni-channel without throwing a glance at multi-channel – interacting with customers on the channel of their choice. By now the multi-channel approach has been adopted by most e-commerce companies. The idea, as with everything in marketing, is to go where your customers are. But what does omni-channel mean?
In short, omni-channel means providing customers with a seamless experience across all the platforms they might use. Sure, there are plenty of ways your clients can interact with your company: voice call, social media, brick-and-mortar store visits and others. But an omni-channel strategy allows access to consolidated, actionable intelligence, regardless of how and where consumers interact with your company and brand. In today’s fast-paced world, anticipating where your customers might interact with your company or brand is not innovation, it is a necessity.
If the growth of your brand relies greatly on consumer experience and word-of-mouth, the omni-channel approach can deliver new levels of customer satisfaction and retention.
TWe need to start by looking at the customer journey. Let’s say you’re experiencing some issues with your laptop. You decide to do some research before you actually ask for help. After a while, you call it quits and go to the manufacturer’s Facebook page where you leave a message with details on what the issue is. After a short chat with the representative, they tell you it be best for you to call tech support or that you’d be contacted back. Now, you’ve already explained the issue to someone from the company, but you have to do it all over again to the customer care consultant at the other end of the line. Said consultant then forwards your call to the tech support department, where, you guessed it, you have to explain things again.
If your laptop’s manufacturer were using an omni-channel approach to client service, you would have had a more seamless experience, in that once you’ve stated the issue to one customer service consultant, all other points of contact would already be aware of it, and you’d have had your issue resolved faster.
Why should you care?
Imagine that you are the laptop manufacturer in the above example. Your customer went through a lot of effort to resolve the technical issue and that does not make for a great customer service experience.
As technology moves forward, we become more and more connected with the world. As such, we have a higher need for all communication , be it with our friends or co-workers, or with customer service providers, to be integrated in our lifestyles. With your friends, you can start a conversation on Skype, continue it over text message and later call each other to finish your thoughts. This is the way in which companies must learn to communicate with their clients, regardless of whether they’re promoting a new product or service, or helping customers in need to tech support.
How do you get there?
The process of implementing an omni-channel-style of communication with your customers could prove to be a slow one. Aside from the investment in technology and processes, you also have to make sure your team is on board with your new global “one-voice” approach. It can turn out to be a costly process, but it does have major benefits in the long run.
An alternative method to get your company omni-channel-oriented is to find a trustworthy partner to outsource your customer service needs to. Outsourcing vendors with a proven track record in offering omni-channel customer care and tech support can elevate customer satisfaction and grow your business globally. However, it’s of the utmost importance that the chosen partner understands your brand, shares your values and has your customers in mind.
Already decided to outsource your customer care needs? Here’s a useful workbook to get you on the right track!
Publish Date: May 25, 2016 5:00 AM
When looking at Europe as a new market, you must consider the path you need to take to ensure your new customers enjoy their experience with your brand just as much as your existing fans. Here are the five easy steps to a successful European expansion and happy customers.
1. Measure twice and cut once
It needs to be said: no amount of luck or money will prepare you for a European expansion better than research will. If you want to minimise the risk of upscaling your business, you need to study your target market and create a viable business case and accurate forecasts.
Europe is not a single market, so blanket approaches tend not to yield the best results. To avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your operational teams, learn the particularities of the region you are expanding to and adapt your plans based on facts, not conjectures. That way you will be prepared for most of the challenges you may encounter along the way.
2. Find the right talent
Europeans are known to prefer customer service delivered by native speakers in their native language. They also tend to expect higher service quality and give lower feedback scores. Finding and retaining the best talent in such circumstances is vital to consolidating your business in Europe.
On the one hand, native customer service teams provide the level of comfort that European clients are accustomed to. On the other hand, they will grant you a deeper understanding of customer habits and the way users are experiencing your product or service in each region. Multilingual customer care will improve your product standing and delight your customers.
3. "Mind the gap"
Not all European countries are alike when it comes to labour laws, taxation systems and economic development. Especially as you begin recruiting, you need to be aware of these differences - they may affect the speed with which you can onboard new team members and respond to business demand.
You need to have a firm grasp of European law before expanding to the region, and aim for as much recruitment lead time as possible to build a strong starter team.
4. Choose quality over quantity
Do not underestimate the temptation to go big or go home. But where expansion is concerned, the best action plan is to start small, with a core team of skilled people supported by the absolute best tools and processes. Because that way you can start to deliver high quality support from day 1, and scale up your team as business picks up speed minimum effort and operational strain.
Customer satisfaction is not just about products or services. Often enough, it is about customer service quality. Regardless of the reason for contact, you want to make sure your customers get the best service you can possibly give them. And that only happens when you put quality first.
5. Grow true, grow smart
When you have a strong business back home it's only natural to want to replicate that success in new markets. There are countless tips and tricks out there, but there is only one You. Your expansion strategy should play to your strengths as a company and as a team. Strive to instill the same passion in your new European team and focus on delivering consistently excellent customer support..
Once you establish a well-oiled starter team and reach the desired level of service quality and customer satisfaction, you can start to increase your reach and, consequently, your staff. You will have a better idea of what to improve and your European operations will grow in a smart, sustainable way that stays true to your company spirit and to your customers.
Different companies approach expansion differently, but there is no denying that having a partner with experience in your target market is an important asset. By partnering with an outsourcing provider, you have a much better chance of rolling out your product or service to Europe without delay. It is an opportunity which, thanks to technology, is becoming more and more accessible with each day.
If you have made up your mind about expanding to Europe, outsourcing might just be the difference between failure and success.
Publish Date: February 26, 2016 5:00 AM
Expansion, be it regional or international, comes naturally when your business is successful.
From crafting a superior product or service that fills an existing need (or creates a new one), to offering memorable customer experiences, building a strong brand image and growing a loyal customer base, you have struck the right note in your region.
Congratulations! Where to next?
How about Europe?
Expanding to the Old World opens the gates to the largest and most affluent market in the world. With 23.7% of the global GDP, Europe brings in even more than the US (22.2%).
The region packs enormous potential and, with proper research, you too could benefit from its unique cultural and historical setup.
It’s a Diverse market…
Europe is a vibrant global market that breaks into a multitude of smaller segments, each with its own cultural history and particularities.
From Eastern to Western Europe, each country offers both opportunities and challenges. The sheer diversity of the population is one of the main benefits – depending on the type of product or service you offer, you will be able to identify several prime expansion regions.
…with a strong connection to the US…
We live in the digital age. In fact, we have been a part of it for quite some time. Enough for personal tastes and larger trends to find their way across the proverbial pond.
Most of Europe speaks English as a second or third language and is exposed to content originating in the US almost on a daily basis. Global travel completes the portrait of a Europe more in tune with the United States than, perhaps, ever before.
…and the capacity to accelerate your international expansion.
Infrastructure? Check. Technology? Check. Multilingual skills? Check.
Europe’s status of “cultural melting pot” is the magical ingredient that ensures workforce mobility which in turn fosters innovation, early adoption and the development of vital language skills.
Most Europeans speak at least two, if not three languages on a daily basis. Eastern Europe is particularly gifted in this respect, offering a large pool of multilingual, multi-skilled professionals that will help you transfer business processes, adapt marketing activities and tap into new European markets quickly and safely.
Expansion is a trying moment in a company’s life. If you do not plan the move carefully enough, your resources, brand image and customer base will suffer. As always, having a trusted partner with experience in Europe will help translate and navigate the challenges that each local market in Europe will throw at you.
This is something that outsourcing does best – facilitating and accelerating the international expansion of brands from all over the world, anywhere in the world. If you want to know more about the questions you can and should ask a potential outsourcing provider, check out the free resource below.
Publish Date: February 12, 2016 5:00 AM
When they think of outsourcing partnerships, companies on both sides of the negotiations table envision strong, long-lasting bonds and business-enhancing strategic decisions.
For the most part, the image stands true. But sometimes things go south and it’s usually because of these 3 important reasons:
Successful outsourcing collaborations run on trust and mutual understanding. Client and provider, they must realise that they are, in fact, on the same team, and listen to each other as they plot their course together.
Of course, BPOs are not mind-readers, and neither are clients. That’s why, from the very first contact, through the website or via telephone, both buyers and providers need to present their case as truthfully and eloquently as possible in order to set the right expectations for further discussions.
Trust is built one step at a time. By listening to the other party’s vision and goals, by being honest about current capabilities and open about future opportunities, clients and providers can ensure they have a solid base to build a thriving partnership on.
Diligent planning is a vital component of outsourcing due to the complexity of this type of business relationship.
The multilingual resources, processes and technology that the BPO provider blends for a particular client need to be organised minutely, allowing for multiple variations in capabilities and requirements.
Knowing what they want to achieve is, therefore, the main responsibility of the client. The provider, on the other hand, must understand the client’s needs and priorities in order to set the appropriate milestones and prepare a smooth project transition.
But what is most important is that both the client and the supplier have all the data they need to make informed decisions and plan effectively to meet SLAs and exceed expectations. This, of course, depends on the third reason why outsourcing partnerships occasionally flounder.
If the communication between clients and their outsourcing partners is transparent, open to all stakeholders and, ideally, scheduled to an extent, there is nothing that can stop companies from achieving what they set out to do at the beginning of their relationship.
If, on the contrary, the chain of communication is cut short, if the feedback does not flow both ways and the access to real-time data is restricted, either knowingly or unknowingly, both partners stand to suffer.
Outsourcing works best when clients and providers communicate openly and when direct feedback, from end-customers and stakeholders alike, reaches the right departments and teams in order to drive product and service innovation.
Can you protect your outsourcing partnerships from these three risks? Absolutely. How? By paying special attention to the BPO provider selection process.
Here is a handy workbook that will help you and the provider of your choice get on the same page:
Publish Date: January 29, 2016 5:00 AM
This January has been auspicious for our company and, consequently, for our clients and teams. We would like to take the chance to extend a warm welcome to our newest centre in Taiwan.
Like many other BPOs, we are constantly researching new ways to work faster and smarter. That includes, of course, looking at new locations that offer the types of advantages which enable outsourcing companies like ours to offer clients like you better solutions at competitive prices. These advantages can take the form of access to native language skills and local culture, lower labour costs and friendlier tax systems.
While the better part of outsourcing activities continue to flow through the Philippines and India thanks to their historic ability to service the Western markets, Taiwan shines as the gateway to an increasingly important geography – China.
By delivering outsourcing solutions from this Asian Tiger, we enable our clients to enter previously untapped Chinese markets. That way, both the brands we support and their Asian customers will be able to speak the same language, not just linguistically but also culturally.
We chose Taiwan as our next delivery centre location for several reasons. First and foremost, our analysis took into account the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, a highly regarded reference for international investors. The World Bank ranks Taiwan 11th out of 189 economies in the 2016 report. That in itself is a strong indication of the ease of opening a business in Taiwan and ensuring the new facility would be aligned with those in our other centres in terms of amenities, wages, opportunities and services.
From a competitive standpoint, the World Economic Forum, another weighty name in the business sector, describes Taiwan as being innovation-driven and ranks it the 14th most competitive location out of 144 nations worldwide. According to the WEF, Taiwan’s strengths include “its capacity to innovate (10th), its highly efficient goods markets (11th), its world-class infrastructure (11th), and strong higher education (12th)”.
You can understand, then, why we would be interested in expanding our delivery offer to include Taiwan. Our new outsourcing centre in Taipei will offer the highest quality of customer service in Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese, and the entire gamut of services that clients have come to rely upon in their collaboration with us.
As we move deeper into Business Process as a Service territory, Taiwan will play an important role in disseminating our in-house automated service platform, ConectysOS, to both long-standing clients, and newly established partnerships. You can read the official expansion announcementhere.
Only one question remains...
Where should we expand next?
Publish Date: January 22, 2016 5:00 AM