How To Find The Right Outsourcing Partner

Monday, 25 November 2013

Posted by: Sue Robinson, General Manager Customer Strategy, Stellar Asia Pacific

As an outsourcer, we see a lot of requests for tender/proposals and the quality and clarity of these can vary dramatically. There are a lot of common mistakes that make it very difficult for companies wishing to outsource to get a real understanding of their options and even the potential costs of outsourcing.

Some of the common mistakes include lack of clear volume requirements which make it difficult for your prospective partner to accurately forecast your resourcing needs and may lead to different responses being received.  Another common mistake is confusing and often overly complex pricing schedules which make it difficult to compare apples with apples.

Some guidelines to follow to help you select the right partner and get the most out of the selection process include:

  • Clearly outline your resource requirements, including call volume patterns at a daily and weekly level. Average handling times (AHT) for each transaction type is an essential piece of data to include. If you have intraday profiles of call arrival patterns, include them – a good outsourcer will be able to accurately forecast your resource requirements to deliver a realistic solution
  • Define your key customer service drivers – is it sales, customer service, first call resolution, or something else entirely? Ask for examples of how a company has delivered these outcomes in the past
  • Specify what is a ‘must have’ versus a ‘nice to have’. Often proposals want a full outline of social media channels, IVR automation and so on, but the buyer doesn’t currently have the budget to support these innovations, or is interested only in the capability for future initiatives. Including the cost of deploying these solutions may artificially inflate the base pricing you receive, so ask for them as separate cost items
  • Pricing needs to allow you to really compare outsourcing offers. A simple way is to ask for a price per agent, or per hour, or per transaction. Ask for a fully wrapped up rate with any additional costs clearly outlined. Many pricing solutions are a “cost plus” model – additional services such as reporting or quality are an extra cost not included in the base line cost. This may lead to surprises after you have selected a partner
  • Focus on partnership and relationship – are the people who are presenting the solution people you feel you could work with? An outsourcing relationship needs to be based on open and honest communication and transparency – you’re going to spend a long time working together to delight your customers Ask about the change management process – every call centre solution is a dynamic one with ongoing changes in your customers’ needs and your business drivers. Flexibility and responsiveness are critical elements of partner selection – ask for process and examples.

Finally, don’t be afraid to work with an outsourcer when you are planning your solution. A good outsourcer who is in for the long haul will work with you to identify the issues you need to be aware of and what solutions are available. Often there is not a one size fits all – there are many options available and an outsourcing partner can provide a range of solutions that could suit you.