What are the top attributes of outsourcing partnerships that stand the test of time?
In our 12+ years experience in outsourcing partnerships, with challenger and Fortune 500 brands, 5 key steps have emerged as critical in building a strong foundation for success:
Partnerships are formed based on certain circumstances and the priorities you had when you set out to find an outsourcing vendor. Circumstances change, however. Markets and opportunities change, and that is when the true value of your partnerships is tested.
A flexible partnership will thrive even in the most tumultuous of times, having the tools in place to withstand the impact of big changes. Flexibility in outsourcing partnerships can take multiple forms:
Adopting gain-share pricing models that allow both partners to thrive when service delivery drives growth;
Reacting swiftly to process changes and not being bogged down by overly complex organizational structures and rigid governance models;
Adapting a collaborative recruitment strategy, quality assurance, and training programs based on outcomes and mutual input.
Another aspect of flexibility lies in a genuine interest in your partner’s organizational culture. This could mean a lot of things. From employee breaks to setting meetings, and just the general way your prospective partner works, it’s important to gauge how well your cultures will work together. Most likely, there will be a third culture created between you – a harmonious middle-ground in which your partnership can thrive.
A good example of how flexibility can be a driver of success is that of one of our clients, a global internet service provider for the hospitality industry. Following organizational changes within our client’s company, Conectys had to absorb three times the usual multilingual Tier 1 and Tier 2 tech support volumes, with a weeks’ notice. It also meant a ramp-up in capacity to over 100 outsourced technical support agents. Without the flexibility to make that shift a success, both companies would have been negatively affected and, more importantly, the end-customer would have felt it too.
2. Partnered Approach
When companies work together, they create a collaborative enterprise, in which they bring their assets to the table and unite under a shared purpose. In a collaborative enterprise, every aspect of the outsourcing partnership is communicated and agreed upon by both parties. Strong indicators of a healthy, vibrant partnered approach could include:
Transparency and communication: once values and expectations have been defined, progress needs to be transparent and available in close to real-time. The focus will be on open communication and the leverage of technologies that enable a real-time view into the outsourced operations, thus shifting the outsourcing partnership model from a legacy “black box” configuration to a collaborative and open Business Process as a Service (BPaaS) paradigm.
Collaborative recruitment, making sure that you add the right people to the team, will drive your success in the long run. This collaborative approach to recruitment allows you to have control over the types of employees you’d like to become your brand champions. Your provider should deliver on those expectations, while you will be free to exercise your veto right.
Collaborative quality assurance and calibration are included in the partnership governance model.
Real-time Net Promoter Score (NPS) to gauge the partnership’s success and feed key market and consumer behavior shifts to the client.
We owe our company’s growth, from a regional player to an award-winning, global outsourcing organization, to our clients and our relentless belief in our mission statement: “We succeed through our customer’s success”.
In the words of Johan Thorbecke, “Trust comes on foot, but leaves on horseback.” In other words, trust is difficult to build and easy to lose. That said, there are many rewards to be gained when you partner with a trustworthy company.
Mutual trust is key here. As important as it is for you to trust the company you choose to partner with, it’s just as important for them to trust you. Alignment between both parties’ objectives and expectations is key in building a successful partnership. Unrealistic expectations and incompatible objectives can snuff the flame of a potentially great partnership. Therefore, setting the right expectations from the get-go will also help you build trust with your partner.
As noted above, another driver of trust is transparency throughout all the stages of the partnership’s integration, and beyond.
For example, aside from open and honest communication at all levels, from agent to CEO, Conectys also provides a fully transparent, bespoke customer engagement and analytics platform, ConectysOS. Clients can track SLAs (Service Levels) and CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) indicators in real-time, enabling them to make informed and swift changes to products and policies based on the end consumer feedback. This not only creates a new level of trust, but it also builds an outcome-driven partnership.
A successful outsourcing partnership has a deeper focus, beyond KPIs (Key Performing Indicators). It looks beyond numbers and figures and focuses on what’s truly important: your core business’ success. This orientation towards the core business leads to greater business value, as well as a more positive impact on the end customer.
Outcome orientation is easier said than done and to successfully achieve it, every effort on both sides needs to be aligned toward this goal. The focus is on value, which can be translated into cash-flows, market growth, advocacy, and automation.
An outcome-oriented governance model and a culture of challenging the status quo takes the outsourcing partnership and end results to a new level. Implementations of outcome-oriented partnerships include:
- Outcome-based pricing models;
- Advocacy and organic sales growth through the measurable impact of NPS in customer loyalty;
- Reducing the cost of service through holistic self-service portals and automation.
- Pay-as-You-Go pricing models, with Opex perfectly aligned to seasonal volumes and capacity change.
The outsourcing industry is currently going through a massive transformation.
Making innovation part of your governance model and striving for simplification needs to be the mantra. Start with establishing a team to design the partnership innovation framework and measurable outcomes, and continue with diligent execution.
One of the more powerful innovation trends in outsourcing is automation. It increases efficiency, lowers the risk of errors, improves customer experience, and drives value. Top outsourcing vendors are capitalizing on third-party technologies for automation or even building their own solutions.
ConectysOS is our own contribution to the continuously evolving outsourcing industry. Through this insights engine, clients have access to real-time actionable intelligence, lowering cost, and increasing agent productivity, by upskilling them from tedious tasks that are susceptible to human error. Innovation through automation can build a strong level of trust, pivotal to any partnership.
How to make outsourcing successful?
Building a strong and successful outsourcing partnership isn’t an easy task. However, by having the right information and resources, you can create a collaboration that will drive your business to new levels of success.
When it comes to successful outsourcing partnerships, the journey starts with a well-thought-out vendor selection process, and our BPO selection workbook aims to make that process easier.