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The cost of in-house vs outsourcing: If and when to make the switch

Better onboarding sets the foundation for business growth and better CX. Here's what to demand more from your business process outsourcing partner.

While choosing a BPO provider can be a long process, time is often of the essence when it comes to getting started. If you’re a scaleup moving into new geographies, or ramping up your customer acquisition efforts, you need to get comfortable with outsourced CX, fast.

BPOs need to strike the balance between onboarding clients quickly and maintaining the highest quality. Let’s look at some best practices your BPO should be using to launch quickly and successfully—and the role that you, the client, need to play in making that happen.

A partner versus a vendor

Your business is your core competency. Nobody knows your goals, processes, and constraints like you do. However, your BPO must bring their own brand of expertise that makes them your equal at the table.

Any BPO provider you choose to work with becomes a part of your operations and an extension of your brand, so it’s critical to consider if it’s the right fit for you in the long run. It’s important that your BPO provider understands your brand identity, culture, and values; an extension of your team that understands the brand they’re representing.

There are two key parts to this “discovery” phase that influence whether your onboarding and implementation can succeed. First, a partner will seek to explicitly understand your problem, so you’re both aligned on how and why you’re addressing and solving that issue.

The other is how much a provider understands and feeds your short and longer-term goals and initiatives into your program (for example, if your program starts as all English but has plans to expand to Mexico in a year’s time, you’ll likely need your agents to be based in Latin America versus, say, the Philippines).

Ask yourself these onboarding questions:

Are they first looking to understand our needs and challenges in the context of our business?

Are they adding value through recommendations and best practices and opportunities, versus merely taking directions and executing plans as-is?

Is their approach based on a mix of our immediate concerns and the longer-term strategy, or are they only being tactical?

Above any technology or methodology is how your leadership team interacts with your BPO. Onboarding requires input and action from a cross-section of departments, which means the lines of communication must be constantly open, not just internally, but with your BPO, too.

Rapid adaptation

One-size-fits-all or generic solutions lack the nuance to fit to your operation—particularly if you’re growing quickly. Designing a CX solution that fits your needs is a balance of robust actions based on experience, with fluid iteration and improvement as and when needed.

The best BPOs start designing your solution with these elements incorporated from the first conversation; whether identifying operational, process, or knowledge gaps and proposing fixes. The faster your BPO can identify the gaps in your current operation and design a solution, the faster you can execute from the outset.

But you can’t run before you can walk—and as we’ve seen, the discovery process needs to be comprehensive to support your program’s long-term success. You need to make sure your BPO provider has the experience and, crucially, the confidence to help you make tough decisions. A key part of this is communication and clarity between stakeholders.

Open communication

Above any technology or methodology is how your leadership team interacts with your BPO. Onboarding requires input and action from a cross-section of departments, which means the lines of communication must be constantly open, not just internally, but with your BPO, too.

One thing to look out for is how invested BPO leaders are in your success—are they distant and hard to get hold of? Or are they communicative and enthused about your partnership?

Every partnership comes with challenges. Communication is the only way you can work through any speed bumps that emerge. To that end, does your BPO regularly self-reflect? Do team leads ask what can be done better? Are agents given a say in how to improve customer interactions? If they do, there aren’t many challenges you can’t overcome together.

Your BPO should also have the confidence and authority to disagree with you. An honest BPO partner will push back and challenge your assumptions (say you believe you’ll only need to handle five call types, when there really could be 35.) If their default answer is “yes,” they aren’t right for you.

Onboarding and implementation set the tone for the rest of your BPO partnership. Done right, it will establish the foundation for better customer interactions and employee experiences at scale.

We’ve developed an approach that helps scaleups craft sustainable and scalable experiences.

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