Small business leaders looking to scale ought to look at business process outsourcing (BPO). As a growth strategy, BPO allows enterprises to quickly scale without having to take large risks or lose productivity. In fact, BPO is so effective that its global market totaled $85.6 billion in 2018. Commonly thought of as a service exclusively for large corporations, outsourcing is actually growing in popularity among small businesses as well. In fact, some findings show as much as 37% of small businesses outsource at least one critical process.
You can outsource two types of business functions: front-office and back-office functions. Front-office functions entail all business processes that are consumer-facing. Meanwhile, back-office functions refer to internal processes that take place away from the eyes of the customer.
Outsourcing either of these types of functions can hugely benefit any company. As such, it’s important to learn what specific kinds of processes are commonly outsourced and why.
Outsourcing Front-Office Functions for Small Businesses
Small enterprises can enjoy the benefits of business process outsourcing just as much as industry titans when it comes to front-office functions. Front office functions focus on executing business strategies for expansion. Think customer service, sales and marketing, account management, and information gathering, as a few examples. Front-office personnel requires communication skills, a deft understanding of consumer pain points, and comprehensive product or service knowledge to do their job effectively.
No matter which front-office function your business needs, it should aim to connect with customers on their preferred platforms. This results in increased brand loyalty and gives you an advantage over your competitors.
Organizations can take advantage of business process outsourcing for any number of front-office functions. Here are a few examples:
Customer support entails speaking directly to the consumer base in order to address issues, gather feedback, drive sales, and inform. As such, success in this role requires customer service agents who can combine empathetic communication with a familiarity with the products and services of the brand they represent. It also helps to be adept at using help desk software. Outsourcing this particular process often helps drive increased customer engagement, as your outsourcing partner will have the right operational structures to run the support desk effectively.
Some customer support responsibilities include:
- Identifying customer needs and providing technical support where appropriate. Personnel who can offer support themselves without transferring the call to a different department are ideal.
- Promptly responding to customer queries across a variety of channels, such as website, email, phone, or chat. Follow-up after queries is important to ensure issue resolution.
- Keeping customers up to date about new products, services, promotions, features, and functionalities. Great customer support not only reacts to consumer complaints but also drives sales.
- Collecting customer feedback data straight from the frontlines to share with the relevant business departments.
The landscape of modern business is such that even small companies have the ability to access a global market. However, language barriers often stand in the way. For example, customers who feel that simple queries cannot be answered effectively due to a language difference are likely to take their business elsewhere.
Fortunately, business process outsourcing gives companies the ability to overcome this obstacle with multilingual support. An effective multilingual support team can assist customers who speak different languages with inquiries, problems, and other needs in a prompt and efficient manner. They can also offer administrative support such as note-taking and memo writing across languages, and offer translation services for agents and callers. This obviously lends itself to scheduling concerns as well, as your multilingual support can set up and facilitate meetings and appointments across languages.
Even a small-scale multilingual support team can substantially ease your transition into an international market by opening up your business to new demographics.
Helpdesk or Technical Support
Technical support personnel speaks directly to customers to help them solve tech issues remotely. As such, they are talented, versatile professionals who combine technical knowledge with excellent interpersonal skills. They also need to be great communicators who can explain complex issues in the most understandable way possible.
Helpdesk or Technical support responsibilities include:
- Understanding customer problems and walking them through the right course of action to solve their issues remotely.
- Anticipating potential hardware and software issues for customers and creating appropriate, easy-to-understand solutions.
- Assisting customers with technical troubleshooting, diagnosis, and repair.
- Supporting the roll-out of new applications, functions, and services.
Many a business chooses to take the outsourcing route for their appointment setting tasks because it’s a demanding yet straightforward process. The tedious nature of this activity makes it a worthwhile job to outsource to BPO professionals, so your workforce is free to focus on more specialized tasks.
Appointment setters support a company’s sales team by cold-calling clients and arranging for them to speak with a salesperson. They are both answering inbound client calls (to address initial queries and direct them to a salesperson) and outbound cold calls to net new customers. Your appointment setting team must also keep accurate records of each customer, including conversations, demographics, and how receptive they are to sales pitches. This information can then be used to inform future sales decisions and strategies.
Considering this, it would be fair to say that success in this field hinges on strong interpersonal skills and a willingness to accept regular customer rejection. It is a demanding, sometimes demoralizing task, but one that is absolutely essential. Outsource it to support staff!
Outsourcing Back-Office Functions for Small Businesses
In contrast to the customer-facing tasks above, back-office functions are those processes that take place internally. This means that there is no direct interaction between back-office personnel and customers. However, the front-end office relies heavily upon support from the back-end team to ensure effective customer interactions, so these functions are just as integral.
Many BPO providers are experts in back-office support. These partners understand the need for high-level strategic thinking, optimization, management, and decision-making. Their expertise allows them to deliver increased revenue, high-quality administration, and optimized workflows, all while reducing cost. A surprising number of back-office functions can be outsourced—here are just a few of them:
Many of us don’t really consider what happens behind the scenes once we place an order. Normally, we run through the checkout options online, and then wait for it to show up on our doorstep. However, what separates great companies from mediocre ones is the efficiency and consistency with which orders are fulfilled.
This efficient filling of orders is the job of an order processor. Inputting orders, tracking shipments, managing inventory, ordering stock, coordinating across departments—all these tasks fall under the processor’s purview. This means that they constantly need to be on top of everything, meticulously keeping the cogs of the business humming. If they do their job well, order processors play a key role in enhancing customer experience and maximizing the company’s profitability.
Data annotators categorize content such as videos, images, and advertisements, assessing and labeling content accordingly. These labels help businesses not only group their content but also identify useful patterns while improving the customer experience.
Data annotators gather, process, and catalog raw and unstructured data in order to make the information of use to the company. They also are tasked with implementing automated systems for data annotation to ensure high-quality and volume of processing and must provide consistent quality assurance to ensure data integrity.
Annotation is fairly straightforward, yet is a tedious and time-consuming task. As such, many businesses choose to shift this process to an outsourcing partner in order to lower labor costs and increase productivity elsewhere.
Data entry is an essential back-office function that involves collecting, maintaining, and analyzing data. This analysis must be structured around an organization's goals and standard operating procedures.
Data managers are also tasked with protection and security. They need to understand what kind of data needs to be collected, and what resources are needed to gather it. Designing, developing, and implementing data collection systems tailored to specific goals means they need a deft understanding of the company and material. As such, a good data manager should also be able to provide recommendations based on the data, along with processing it.
Many companies process huge amounts of data, so it’s important that they work with professional data managers who know how to organize information in a useful way. Accordingly, data entry personnel need to be exacting workers who strive to minimize human error. Many companies choose to outsource their data entry to BPOs since the specialists sourced are consummate professionals who know the job inside and out.
Content moderators comb through content to determine if it adheres to a specific set of rules and guidelines. As this content is often uploaded to various platforms maintained by your business, content moderators need to act swiftly to address any content that may be out of line.
This back-office function is important to maintain the desired appearance in front of your customers. Having unruly, inconsistent, or inappropriate content on your platforms, even if it is user-generated, can reflect badly on your brand. Content moderation is critical for any customer-facing organization.
Some common responsibilities of content moderators include:
- Inspecting, moderating, and categorizing content.
- Enforcing brand and community guidelines across platforms.
- Removing content where appropriate. This often includes content deemed guilty of plagiarism, copyright infringement, abuse, spam, profanity, nudity, and other quality issues.
Research is about more than just typing a question into Google and clicking the first link that appears. A professional researcher uses the internet alongside books, published articles, surveys, and interviews to locate valuable information.
Researchers are employed across a wide variety of industries, as every sector needs all the relevant information they can get. The smart researcher investigates across a variety of mediums, including books, journal articles, newspapers, the internet, surveys, interviews, and questionnaires. They tabulate the useful findings while archiving the raw info for future use. After all, who knows when it will be relevant again? Your research team can then use this data to identify patterns, gather insights, guide strategies, and connect with consumers.
Seeing how valuable a good researcher is, many savvy business people seek out competent outsourcing partners to take over this back-end office process.
Whether It’s Front- or Back-Office Outsourcing, Helpware Can Help Small Businesses
Businesses seeking to stand above their competition need to invest in both front- and back-office functions. However, building teams to fulfill these tasks from the ground up can make it difficult for businesses to focus their resources on their core competencies.
This is why the best business leaders choose to outsource many of their back- and front-office functions to outsourcing partners. These partners allow businesses to focus on more important matters by offering their seasoned professionals, and cutting-edge tools to get the job done efficiently.
Helpware is a leading BPO partner chosen by small business owners the world over. Offering solutions such as order processing, data entry, research, customer service, helpdesk software, and more, Helpware enables businesses to scale at a rapid pace—without sacrificing quality or control. Helpware builds customized process outsourcing plans, tailored to your individual business needs. Reach out today and see what Helpware can do for you!