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Outsource Billing | Puzzle of the Week

Customer Management Services | Effective outsourcing Transition tips

In the last three blogs I have taken readers through three stages involved in contracting an outsourcing company. We have looked at the strategic assessment of a decision to outsource, the due diligence required when evaluating proposals from bidding companies, and most recently the issue of performance metrics when formalising the SLA, using an example customer services project. This week we stay with outsourced customer management services and look at the stage after the contract is signed: transition.

This is the nuts and bolts process of transferring in-house functions to an outsourcer and will be the first time clients interact with suppliers outside of a sales context. The risks here are high. During transition both client and supplier typically discover problems that are unanticipated during proposal and contracting. Indeed, many outsourcing transitions fail in the first year, often following a downward spiral where milestones and deadlines are missed, confidence erodes and recovery requires a radical overhaul that raises costs for both parties. The tips below will help an organisation work with a customer management services centre to deliver an effective transition:

 

1) Take responsibility: The extent to which your organisation is responsible for the transition is critical. Many clients hope the outsource ‘partner’ will take the lead, deferring to their project expertise. However conceiving your relationship as a partnership is a mistake as suppliers have their own business interests, setting up potential conflicts of interest as problems emerge. The transition will need ongoing commitment from senior management within your organisation, most likely through a delivery team tasked to ensure the customer management services provider implements the SLA.

 

2) Staff for experience: The transition team will comprise of key staff from both companies. Your organisation should have strong leaders on the team with previous experience of managing such processes. If you do not have this capability in-house it is advisable to involve an impartial third party with expertise in managing outsourcing transitions to give client and supplier the best chance of staying on track.

 

3) Start early: Typically the management team that signs the contract is not the same team responsible for the transition. If the transition team is brought in after the fact, this can handicap the process from the start. Installing the team before the contract is signed, involving it at the negotiation stage as the transition plan is being defined, will establish team members early on as stakeholders, giving them greater ownership over delivery.

 

4) Plan: Joint planning activities should produce a detailed transition plan that includes clearly understood tasks, roles and responsibilities for the whole transition period. The customer management services provider should have a pro-forma project plan to use as a starting point. The plan will vary in complexity depending on your specific situation, but generally the plan should:

 

  • List system interfaces that are part of the transition, including phone lines that need to be switched so that your numbers can be answered at the customer management services centre.
  • Test call scenarios before the handover, with a successful test performed before any live calls are taken.
  • Progress in phases so that initial steps start with low call volumes, minimising impact should problems arise.
  • Give current in-house personnel who will be out of work after the transition an incentive to stay on throughout the transition period.

Manage the relationship: The relationship with your customer management services provider should not be treated as a one-off procurement transaction, but as an ongoing collaboration that requires full-time commitment to monitor performance. This should involve the running of an appropriately staffed programme office with clearly defined processes, especially for issue tracking to identify and report on transition problems as they arise.

 

A customer management services could be the right solution for your business. Contact us to see how we can help with your project.

 

 

Authored by John Drury, Sales Director at Interaction Europe.

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BPO company | Assessment Guide for Your Outsourcing Project

I have written before on how to evaluate outsourcing projects, and of course this is an area of keen interest to blog readers, so here are some more thoughts when you consider engaging a BPO company. Business Processing outsourcing can grow your business and keep it competitive, but before tendering bids from the marketplace, businesses should thoroughly assess whether a BPO company is the right choice for them.

 

Here are four high level questions that should guide your assessment:

Multilingual Call Center Outsourcing | 5 Important Evaluation Tips

Call center outsourcing for your own home market offers many benefits to client companies and organisations. Multilingual call center outsourcing adds significant complexity as a number of national markets and languages have to be factored in. This is my summary list of important factors in call center outsourcing, and multilingual outsourcing in particular. These 5 evaluation tips are by no means comprehensive but give a useful starting point in preparing a multilingual call center outsourcing project:

 

  1. It is often asserted outsourcing puts your multilingual call center operation under the control of specialist management, i.e. this is their core competency and therefore they are able to manage this better than you. So, when evaluating potential outsource partners, it makes sense to interview the management you will be working with: do they have a successful track record in multilingual call center operation?
  2. A multilingual call center outsourcing partner should deliver a high quality service. So, when evaluating potential partners look at the quality systems they use to continually monitor performance. Do they have the procedures to feed what they learn into their ongoing training and coaching?
  3. Cost reduction is usually the number one reason for initiating a multilingual call center outsourcing project. Of course, setting-up a multilingual call center from scratch, perhaps as part of a European market entry strategy involves investment in:

    - infra-structure: buildings, equipment, phone-lines etc

    - technology: voice, e-mail, web handling, CRM etc

    - recruitment & training: across multiple languages...on an ongoing basis, as small call center have difficulty in retaining staff because of limited career progression

    When you add up the high upfront capital costs and risks of setting-up the above, and compare it to the pure variable cost of outsourcing, its usually a no-brainer. Of course, it's not just about the cheapest...it's about the best value for money.
  4. Speed to Market. This is a very important factor for the most international companies, especially in the fast moving world that we live in. A good multilingual call center outsourcing partner should be able to train staff and turn on your service within a matter of weeks. So in your evaluation process you need to establish whether they have the resources and processes to do this.
  5. Flexibility. It follows from (4) that your multilingual call center outsourcing partner should be able to provide you with a very flexible service which can handle seasonal peaks in demand, e.g. as a result of a marketing campaign etc. The better the quality of the Call Agents they employ, the better those Agents are able to absorb training across multiple products (often from different clients), so they can be immediately 'turned-on' at short notice to handle your unexpected peaks. So evaluation of Call Agent quality and the ongoing product training the outsource company deploys is important. For example, how many agents are trained on your products for the ongoing contract, and how many additional will be trained as back up?

The above are only just some of the Evaluation criteria you will need to consider when outsourcing your multilingual call center needs. Thinking of multilingual call center outsourcing for your business? Then contact us to see how we can help with your project.

 

Authored by John Drury, Sales Director at Interaction Europe.

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