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.
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.