23 Jan Why Outsourcing is not a Commodity: How To Hire the Right Firm
You’ve managed to build a sustainable business by successfully launching your product and build an impressive customer base. Enough so, that your competitors are taking notice of your growth.
Additionally, you quickly realize that if sales continue to grow at the current pace for the foreseeable future, it will be a struggle to keep up with finding the right talent to support certain business functions. Instead, you need to focus on product development and sales, not hiring, firing or training dozens of these individuals. This scenario is often the one that CEOs find themselves in when searching for an outside company, known as outsourcing, to provide key business functions or processes.
While there are hundreds and hundreds of small to large-scale outsourcing companies (offshore or nearshore – don’t worry, we’ll get to those terms as well) to choose from, it’s a daunting and intimidating task to hire an outside company that represents you on a daily basis. In the back of your mind, you can recall good and bad customer service experiences from a company that you bought from that you know utilized outsourced customer support. Of course, you want to ensure that your customers leave each interaction with your company with a warm, fuzzy feeling. You don’t want them to have a negative experience and go online to bash your company on social media, an all too common occurrence today.
In order to help you make the best, thoughtful decision for your business, we’ll guide you on what to look for in an outsourcing firm and why you shouldn’t treat it as a commodity or just another service your company utilizes. Rather, it requires careful thought precisely because it will have a direct impact on your company’s reputation (especially if you outsource customer service or cold calling), whether or not you want it to. We’ll also debunk the common myths you hear about outsourcing and when you’re ready to begin interviewing firms, we’ll help you ask the right questions to find the BPO that is right for you.
Where to Begin When Shopping for a BPO Company
First of all, what is BPO? Allow us to introduce you to your first good-to-know outsourcing term, or BPO (Business Process Outsourcing). This is a great term to use to begin a search online if you don’t have a recommendation or know of one first hand. Additional terms that will be helpful in your search are “nearshoring” and “offshoring”, which are types of outsourcing firms that are defined in geographic terms. Basically, nearshored outsourcing is defined by hiring a firm near you or within your time zone. On the contrary, an offshored outsourcing firm is undoubtedly not in your time zone, but is often located in another country where labor rates are lower, thus reducing your costs.
Common Myths About Outsourcing
Myth #1: If I push my customer support to an outsourcing firm, my customer service satisfaction ratings will decrease.
Debunked: The mistake that many companies make when hiring an outsourcing firm is a lack of training. You need to have your trainer “train their trainer” to ensure that the firm you hire understands your approach and processes so that the experience mirrors that of your own staff handling the same type of project. You might ask to review the data you’ve asked your BPO to enter in order to ensure you’re happy with the results. In the end, your goal is to create an experience that your customers are not aware you’ve outsourced data entry, for example.
Myth #2: I hear that managing BPO firms is difficult.
Debunked: This is only true if you don’t invest time upfront in training, establishing processes and timelines and expectations. Spend the time upfront on these and you will unlikely have issues later. Set a weekly meeting to review results when your firm begins working with you to review results and once you feel your outsourced team is operating as you expect, you can reduce the amount of time you spend in working with your BPO as time progresses.
Myth #3: Outsourcing is Expensive.
Debunked: While this can be true, there are very experienced BPOs that operate offshore that offer lower labor rates and the additional bonus of working opposite of US hours, so essentially you get a company that is working when you aren’t. For example, you provide data to a firm before the end of your business day and you arrive to work the following morning with the data scrubbed and uploaded to your CRM. You are the new data hero at your company!
How to Hire the Right Outsourcing Firm
Before you pick up the phone and hire the first firm you talk to that sounds like a dream, below is a critical list of questions you should ask each firm. Give some thought to other questions that are important to you and add them to the list and once you’ve interview everyone, tally up your notes and compare results. You might even assign a point system to help you determine who is truly the best fit for you. Assign a high number of points, based on a scaled numerical system, to a high value question, for example. Then, narrow it down to one to three firms and call references for the firm you’d like to hire most.
- What are their rates?
- What is their process for onboarding new clients?
- Do they have a vertical specialization or other customers in your vertical?
- Do they have a specific BPO specialization? Sales, customer service, etc..
- Can they scale with you as your business grows?
- Do they have references of current customers you can speak with?
In summary, take your time to properly interview, hire and train the BPO firm you choose. The effort you put in at the beginning will provide better results in the end.