Many companies when making a decision to outsource focus primarily on cost. Companies that have or are outsourcing realize that cost is only a part of the equation when selecting the right partner. Finding the right partner and a successful one is like a marriage. Is there a cultural affinity with the company? Does the partner understand your corporate values, and share similar if not identical values? Is the partner one that can adapt to requirements and scale with your needs? Does the partner have the technological robustness to provide for current and foreseeable needs? Has the partner serviced similar campaigns with success? Do they currently have a competing campaign? How stable is the partner and their environment? What special skills are available, for example are their plentiful bilingual resources? Does the partner country have an emphasis on mathematics, computer science, engineering? Does the partner have the financial resources to sustain themselves in an emergency or downturn in their other campaigns? How do they structure cost? Do they charge an hourly rate, per seat or some other combination?
What is your corporate culture? Is the company customer centric, with an emphasis on customer satisfaction? Does the company pride itself in being customer friendly? Picking a partner that has this kind of culture is important. When considering a partner be conscious of national culture as well. Some countries for example do not necessarily produce telesales agents. The culture may be one that is passive in nature and finding “Closers,” may be a bit more challenging. It is important to find a partner with experience in successfully running the type of campaign you want to run. In other cases, the culture of the provider may be too restrictive, based on a highly scripted society. There are many variables which can affect the culture. Training may overcome some limitations, but not all. Central America has been much more successful in implementing programs and campaigns requiring cultural affinity, proximity to the U.S., and immersion in American Culture.
This is one of the most crucial decision points. Can the outsourcing partner scale to meet growth needs? Are the human resources available to fill additional positions? Is there a sufficient reserve of space available in the partner facility to meet immediate and short-term needs? Does the provider have a growth plan that will enable them to accommodate additional agents should there be a need in a short time scenario (i.e. 90 Days)? Can the provider scale down if the requirements of the campaign change? This is important if you have seasonal requirements that may require large fluctuations in staffing on a regular basis, i.e. Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc. Scalability may also include facility requirements, technology, software licensing, etc.
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Technology is also a key decision driver. Does the partner have a current IP communications platform with Integrated Voice Response, Automatic Call Distribution, Call Recording, Customer Relationship Management, etc.? A modern Contact Center must be able to receive over a network, distribute and answer those calls, and record the results. More and more chat and email are part of a robust solution. If you have an inhouse call center, the provider needs to make the process of receiving calls via your current system transparent by connecting to that system and perhaps providing upgrades in the process. The ideal platform is one that provides maximum flexibility in customer interaction, and complete transparency in your ability to monitor interactions in real time, track Key Performance Indicators and evolve training through real time evaluation of people and processes.
It is important to partner with a company that can handle your campaign without excessive retraining. It is also important to note if they have competing campaigns currently running. If they are, it may be simpler to simply move on and select another vendor, but a real professional outsourcer will know how and appreciate the need to “Firewall” clients so that campaigns are protected and customer and other proprietary data is protected.
In deciding on an outsourcing partner, you are also making a decision on an outsourcing destination. Imagine an outsourcing partner in Venezuela now. With a deteriorating political situation and financial instability, that country is troublesome for foreign companies seeking to do business there. The security situation for employees and corporate visitors is likely also difficult. Having a solid understanding of the political and social environment in your partner’s host country is very important in coming to a final decision. The financial stability chain of command and succession in a company is also important. When you are placing a key part of your business in the hands of another company, you need to make sure it is in good hands and know that internal company issues or instability can affect the execution of your program. One of the advantages of going with an American owned outsourcer is that there is usually greater transparency, and sociopolitical stability is less of an issue.
Cost can vary significantly based on factors like:
- Location of Outsourcing Operation
- Skillset of Agents (Language(s), Technical Skills, Education)
- Hours of Operation (In many countries 24/7 operations have significant additional costs for third shift)
- Security Requirements (Physical and Technological)
- Remote Management vs. Management on Site
- Training and Travel Costs
- Projected turnover and staffing cost
While significant cost savings can be achieved through outsourcing, the cost savings are usually not on the front end, and should never be the primary consideration for outsourcing. An outsourcing strategy can provide many benefits including greater flexibility. Monetizing the benefits is complex, but companies like The Office Gurus do it all the time.