As your business expands into international markets, outsourcing certain operations make it easier to scale your company and define costs. However, finding the right provider can be challenging.
As online businesses have exploded, so to have the support services that feed these businesses. From customer care to logistics, you can outsource almost any operation of your business and often at favourable rates.
Selecting an outsourcing partner means finding a provider that is aligned with your needs and will help minimize risks associated with your industry. So how do you know if the partnership on offer is the right fit for your business? These are our guidelines to help you sort the wheat from the chaff.
1. Define Your Business Goals
You need to know what your business goals are and how you plan to achieve them in order to find the right support network to help you reach those goals.
If your goal is to reach an international audience within a set time frame, you need to choose a provider who not only has the resources to do this but also offers scalability options as part of their contract so that you can grow or contract your business accordingly.
You need to be able to communicate well with your partner. They should be able to repeat to your business goals and values and share theirs with you. If they do not align, it is time to search for a provider who is willing to put your business at the centre of their attention while they are negotiating with you.
2. Ensure Reliability And Experience
Research your potential partner. Ask for company details, white pages, testimonials and supporting evidence of any claims.
Does the provider have offices worldwide? How many employees do they have? Is the business owned by a parent company? Who are their other clients? What other services do they offer and what is their speciality?
These are a few of the basic introductory questions you should be able to easily answer with 30 minutes of online research into a company. If you can’t, and the contact you have is not willing to answer all of your questions candidly, be sure to look into the company further. If it doesn’t seem right, or the claims are too vague, question the true value of the service and if it is the right fit for your business.
3. Ask For References And Work Samples
Just as you would ask a potential new employee to provide references and samples, ask the provider to do the same. Be it advertising copy or customer care scripts, the provider should be able to show you their SOPs, evidence of their work and how your business would fit with their model.
Remember, a conversation with a provider is not a sale. They should be wanting your business and seeking to make sure you are happy with what they can provide. If you are trusting them to take on the role of managing one part of your operations, they need to prove their worth.
4. Check Technology Used And Infrastructure Employed
One of the most commonly outsourced aspects of a business is the first response to customer care. Many large and even reputable businesses outsource their first response calls to international call centres where operators deal with the clients of multiple businesses. This means that the operator – often in a country that pays poor hourly wages to people working in high-stress positions – is answering for many businesses.
For example, as a customer, you call Your Bank. The operator picks up your call on the third ring and says ‘Good afternoon and thank you for calling Your Bank, how may I help you?’. For the operator, they simply insert the name of the company in a standard reply. When you request help, they will have a script of three answers the business has provided. It is cheap and gives the false impression that your business is taking care of customers.
To use these outsourcing centres to the benefit of your business, you need to employ a provider who is understanding of your business, can manage your call load and that is willing to humanise the interaction. The operator should be able to see the name of the caller when they enter an ID before the call is answered. The operator should be able to direct the call immediately to someone who can assist them. The call centre should perform the task of a switchboard and messaging service, not as a customer service team, as they should not have enough of your customer details to be able to handle the sensitive questions that customers need answering.
Choosing to outsource aspects of your operations makes it possible for you to scale your business more effectively. Having access to fast resources, or needing to scale back without having to furlong employees, is much more cost-effective for your growing business.
However, the operations that you choose to outsource are essential. While many businesses choose to outsource customer service, focusing on aspects of your industry, such as logistics, advertising or even accounting, that could be managed by a professional company could be a wise investment in your business future, if you choose a partner who understands your goals and respects your values.