In a world where cost, speed, quality, and flexibility, are more important than geography, the trend to outsource business processes is gaining traction. The fallout from COVID-19 has signaled a sharp pivot to the basics: bolstering value and driving down costs. The pandemic itself has soundly dispelled the notion that physical colocation of resources is necessary to develop trusting and productive relationships in the modern business world.
As the reality of remote work gradually sinks into company cultures, firms are increasingly collaborating with service providers and accessing global talent from the most cost-effective locations. This will likely lead to an increase in business process outsourcing (BPO) trends in a market worth $92.5 billion in 2019.
When you select a BPO partner, you are choosing a company to help with an essential part of your operations and that means taking extra care when making your choice. With so many factors outside of your control, the process of deciding on a business outsourcing partner can be tricky. For starters, you’ll need to factor in how effective their services are, do they have a solid track record and rating, do their digital solutions enable rapid integration with your existing systems, and, importantly, do the contracts make allowances for you to pivot as your business priorities evolve.
Many companies have fallen foul of choosing the wrong partner, leaving them wondering if they can trust their new business partners, and wondering whether it's too late to change. We've put together a list of key factors to help you navigate the potential minefield and choose the perfect partner for your specific BPO needs.
Check a Potential Partner's NPS Score
Almost every service provider promises high-quality work and superior customer service, right? Yet, in some cases, the opposite holds true. For instance, anecdotal accounts abound of so-called "black box" operations where clients have minimal visibility or control.
To cut through the noise, there are Net Promoter Scores (NPS) which represent the core measurement of customer experience worldwide. It’s an authentic reflection of service quality scores because, unlike handpicked references, data is compiled from surveys that measure the willingness of customers to recommend products or services.
As valuable a metric as NPS is, it’s important to complement your evaluation with additional data and insights on a potential partner. You can check rating sites such as Glassdoor and Clutch. High customer and employee reviews on these sites often point towards a well-run BPO provider that consistently delivers excellent results. Or not.
Choose a Partner With a Wide Range of Services
When evaluating a potential BPO services provider, it’s important to look for one that offers a wide range of services. You might only need one or two services at first, but as you scale, you might want to expand your partnership. This is why the planning stage is so crucial, as it’ll allow you to anticipate additional services you may need going forward.
While there are a vast array of outsourcing services out there, they can generally be grouped into either back-office or front-office business process outsourcing. By understanding the different types of BPO, businesses can identify which services to outsource and how to cut costs by filling specific roles and acquiring unique skills.
This involves services that happen behind the scenes away from the eyes of customers. Common types include data entry, finance and accounting, and human resources.
Data entry. While straightforward, data entry remains a time-consuming and tedious task. It’s also prone to human error, especially if the encoder is still a trainee. A BPO partner offering data entry services allows clients the peace of mind that their data is being inputted accurately and quickly. This frees up manpower to focus on core business processes.
Finance and accounting. BPO providers offering advanced expertise in this area are called Knowledge Process Outsourcing or KPO companies. These partners do more than just handle accounts; they can compile annual budgets, conduct audits, and some KPO companies also provide key financial insights that help your business grow. These include investment management, risk and compliance solutions, global market research, and more.
Human resources. Business process outsourcing partners can help clients optimize HR functions such as hiring, training, and payroll. These providers utilize advanced technologies such as applicant tracking systems and AI-based recruitment platforms. This results in a hiring process that recruits well-suited employees to the role, reducing costly staff turnover.
This refers to consumer-facing business processes such as customer support and marketing.
Customer Support. allow your business to reach entirely new markets outside your home region. By enabling your company to offer 24/7 support, BPO partners open up your business to a global market across different time zones.
You also won’t have to worry about fluctuations in your customer support team due to holidays, weekends, and other personal reasons. BPO providers will make sure that your customer support team is always on the job. Working with a BPO means that you are working with professionals. You no longer have to worry about turnover, lengthy training periods, as well as disruptive and costly human errors.
Marketing. Outsourcing your marketing processes to a BPO provider is an effective way to grow your reach. Partnering with these providers gives you access to marketing experts who use advanced tools to conduct market research, strategize campaigns, and execute search engine optimization.
These partners also create marketing materials, landing pages, and conversion funnels. Competent marketing BPO providers know how to channel your brand’s strengths into a winning marketing formula for your business.
Consider High Touch Services
Technology is an indispensable part of customer service in the digital age. Providing customers with self-service portals, tutorials, and easy-to-use technology make companies more efficient. It is important to remember, though, that even with the proliferation of smart devices, there are some areas where the human touch reigns supreme.
Based on a single or a combination of parameters, CRM software determines the importance of customers. For instance, those in the high-worth bracket expect more personal interaction. Human agents are required to make calls to them with customized offers. Other customers may be subjected to standard service calls from VoIP technologies, for example.
You might also have customers who just do not feel comfortable with modern technology and prefer person-to-person calls. Such customers would also require a high-touch intervention. In both scenarios, make sure your provider has the capacity to train and provide suitable candidates that have the gravitas to execute the role effectively.
A high-touch customer service approach ensures that the customer touchpoints are streamlined and each offers a unique and memorable experience to customers. A study has revealed that just a 2% improvement in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%. As such, a high-touch customer service (which costs more than its standard counterpart) often pays for itself.
One of the most frustrating experiences as a customer is a long wait on a phone queue accompanied by an equally annoying jingle. Eventually, an agent comes online. But then, frustration leads to exasperation as you are bounced around from agent to agent. To top it all, and by now you’re in #%*& territory, you’re told to call back tomorrow.
High-touch customer service eliminates all of this customer frustration. BPO providers offering this service seek to resolve all queries within the space of just one call. If done correctly, this leaves customers feeling satisfied and positive about their experience. This is possible because BPO providers train their agents to understand your unique business. They learn important aspects of your company: industry, environment, regulations, global presence, and key offerings.
These outsourcing partners also map your consumer journey in detail. This allows them to anticipate customer pain points and prepare effective solutions in advance. While first-call resolutions often mean more lengthy calls, the immediate spinoffs come in the form of fewer repeat calls or follow-ups on the same issue.
This in-depth knowledge of your company combined with a deep understanding of the consumer journey and a personality to match creates a winning team of customer service experts. More importantly, your customers are happy and this builds brand reputation and loyalty.
Ensure That Your Partner Has Solid Transition Plans
Historically, business processes outsourced to a third party have proven costly because of poor transition planning. A botched transition can lead to disruptions in work processes and make the outsourcing partnership far more trouble than it's worth. For example, transition failures can result in a gap in Accounts Payable, which will disrupt supply chains.
Effective transition plans have two hallmarks: they are unrushed and they are detailed.
Take Your Time
It’s normal to get caught up in the rush of things and aim to transition functions to a BPO partner as fast as possible. Transition periods are tough, and no matter how efficient, they do take a toll on the bottom line. It’s important to slow down and take your time when handing functions over to an outsourcing partner. Transitioning to a new system is no easy task. It requires planning and patience. Rushing through this process often means that systems may not be completely up and running, and staff is not adequately trained. This leads to a rocky start, which could mean extending the transition period and more downtime.
To minimize this risk, transition your organization into stages. This helps to mitigate the impact of a radical shift. It also has the added benefit of smoothing the process out for everyone involved. A slow, steady transition minimizes the pain of change and provides a smoother integration for all parties.
Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More
When searching for a potential BPO partner, look for one who has extremely detailed transition plans that must be clearly communicated. Examine the potential partner’s transition methodology. The best outsourcers have a set approach for migration involving mapping business functions, detailed documentation, process flow charts, and identified controls.
There should also be clear key performance indicators in place to ensure commitment to the transition plan. In fact, highly-competent BPO partners spend as much as 18 hours on a single business process walk-through. Finally, connect at all points of the transition from start to finish. This will ensure both parties are pulling in the same direction, increasing the chances of a seamless turnover.
BPO Saves Time, RPA Saves Dollars
Cloud and robotic process automation (RPA) are organizational essentials and no surprise that they are becoming a core component of most new outsourcing strategies and partnerships. In fact, as they become more recognized and established, they’re moving beyond the transformative driver status of two years ago and are now effectively table stakes for all entities seeking to transform.
RPA minimizes or eliminates the need for human intervention. Automation drives down costs, increases productivity, reduces error, and works exceptionally well for tasks that are repetitive and rules-based. Today's technology empowers you to build a better tomorrow. This means by taking advantage of automation now, you're effectively preparing for the future. And while the research shows that only 20- 40% of processes are impacted by RPA today, this number is sure to increase as the technology develops.
You can tap into this ‘future’ because one of the biggest benefits of working with a BPO provider is that it gives access to the latest, and often expensive technology without having to invest in it yourself. This creates huge savings that can be directed elsewhere. Today’s businesses need to make smarter decisions and increase productivity without sacrificing customer service. If you looking to outsource your business processes, it’s worth looking into what RPA can bring your business: reducing spending, increasing efficiency, and raising productivity.
Choosing a BPO Partner? We Here To Help
Ever-evolving business scenarios and increasing customer expectations are creating an imperative for businesses to become more agile and BPO offers a route to attain that agility. The research says outsourcing decisions will play a significantly more strategic role in shoring up short-term resilience and enabling long-term growth.
As business becomes increasingly global and complex, the decision to outsource some of your non-core business processes is a big one, so it’s important that you choose a partner that offers a wide range of services with a high NPS rating. And for both parties to benefit from an outsourcing relationship, a client must be ready to invest and an outsourcing partner willing to be flexible.
Helpware is changing perceptions of what outsourcing is and what it can be by providing both outsourced solutions and more strategic services like process improvement consulting. We've helped many partners—including Universal Studios and Zendesk—leverage this process by first identifying core competencies and then determining which activities should stay in-house and those that make sense to be outsourced.
If done right, BPO can save you money by cutting costs without sacrificing quality in the process. If you're looking for ways to increase your revenue without adding new capital expenditures or staff, consider leveraging what Helpware does best–outsourcing. Get in touch with our expert team today, we would love to help you get started right away.