Michael Mills, SVP, Global Contact Center Sales and Solutions, CGS
CIOs can face unique challenges when companies expand their businesses or services, especially as they enter new global markets. To remain focused and on budget while experiencing expansion, CIOs may look to business process outsourcing (BPO). Through BPO support services companies can often save on costs and enhance quality of service if wisely planned with the right partner. Before considering BPO services, outline your requirements including budget and the business processes you are looking to outsource.
Whether you are looking to outsource for the first time or evaluating your best return on investment (ROI) with an existing partner, here are some guidelines to help identify the right partner for your outsourcing engagement.
Selecting the Right Location
Know your growth plan. CIOs will want to align their strategic roadmap with long-term business and financial objectives. For example, for a U.S.-based telecommunications company with potential expansion to South America over the next decade, South America may be a strategic location to establish a centralized call center because of infrastructure availability and language capabilities for both English and Spanish customers. To increase efficiency, improve quality and integrate business processes while decreasing costs, it’s important to streamline support services wherever possible. Your outsourcing partner should work with you to select a location that will best fit your current and future requirements.
"With the breadth of new technologies available, it’s important to identify the appropriate solutions for your outsourcing engagement"
Choosing the Best Metrics
A successful BPO partnership is one in which the provider serves as a trusted consultant when determining your service level measurement (SLM) and specific key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs may include growing revenue, increasing customer satisfaction rates or building end-user productivity. In doing so, there are specific key performance metrics that you will measure to ensure you are maintaining a consistent level of productivity, efficiency and quality delivery to your customers and end users. To best way to gauge the value of the KPIs and make adjustments as needed is to implement a quality management process to monitor these KPIs and SLMs on a consistent basis. Your outsourcing partner should lead the quality management process to recommend measurements to track based on the program that’s ultimately selected and provide suggestions for process improvement along the way.
Selecting the Right Technology
With the breadth of new technologies available, it’s important to identify the appropriate solutions for your outsourcing engagement. Explore potential partners’ solutions to make sure you leverage software that enables outsourcing initiatives to transition smoothly and seamlessly in your existing infrastructure. Your partner should work with you to offer a solution tailored to your systems and needs, adhering to your specific IT security standards and compliance requirements. Whether you are looking to use your own proprietary tools or are interested in a customized solution, choose a technology-agnostic partner. This allows you to control the tools used rather than simply adopting a third-party vendor’s suggested applications. A true BPO partner offers consultative support to help evaluate your current tools – along with those in the market – to help you meet your objectives.
Enabling your People
Another and perhaps the most important, best practice when exploring BPO is that your level of performance is only as good as your people. The provider’s staff skill set should meet your requirements. You may choose to look for an outsourcing partner that uses only employees versus temporary or subcontracted labor. Regardless, to ensure consistent performance and top-of-line service delivery, the outsourcing partner should offer training and continued education to its employees. This generally includes conducting initial training on location at each center from which the vendor will be delivering support.
Evaluating Service Models
BPO partners may offer different service models. For example, call center providers may offer the option of a shared service desk vs. dedicated support model. A shared service desk model may be less expensive than a dedicated model, which may be appealing for companies with tight budgets or small call volumes. However, shared desk models are staffed with agents working for multiple clients. This means service is less customized than the dedicated, one-company environment, and agents may be strained and unable to be fully versed in your company’s products and services.
Alternatively, a dedicated support model offers a centralized location for employees, management oversight, ongoing training and a dedicated staff. This tends to lead to higher retention and customer satisfaction rates. Yet, this model may be more expensive. A quality partner will work with you based on your budget to outline the best fit for your organization.
Finding a Balanced Pricing Model
When searching for an outsourcing partner, you may encounter a number of different pricing options – fixed-price, price-per-call, price-per-minute, price-per-full time equivalent (FTE), among others. Look for a partner that will work with you to get the best service for your budget, a model that is mutually beneficial – meeting your financial objectives and allowing the outsourcer to offer competitive benefits to attract quality agents to support you. Fixed-price agreements may appear to be pricier or outside of your budget; yet those costs are transparent. This option works well if you do not anticipate fluctuations due to increased call volumes, for example, during peak times. If you do experience fluctuations, per-call or minute models allow you more flexibility and won’t mean paying extra for unneeded resources in slower periods.
Achieving BPO Success
In today’s fast-moving business culture there is often a balancing act between cost and efficiency. BPO can help ensure your business processes maintain top-of-line performance while reducing costs and oversight. These guidelines and partner differentiators can help you through the first-time BPO process or to evaluate your current outsourcing partner. It will ensure that you are receiving quality service - with the right partner and for the best value - to meet your current and growing needs.