By Kirsty Hunter
Everyone from Fairfax Media to Telstra has offshored in an effort to cut costs and improve competitiveness. But for every company that embraces offshoring, another shuns it over fears of data security and perceived language barriers.
The reality is that choosing a provider that rigorously trains employees, helps you transition your business and keeps you in the loop of what is going on overseas can make offshoring one of the best things you can do for your business. Here’s a checklist to help address your concerns.
Look for a provider that conducts a rigorous recruitment programme, intensive training and quality assurance. Finding, training and retaining individuals that fill the skilled expert roles in a contact centre are challenging tasks. As the ABPOA suggests, BPO is all about People, People and People!
Quality of customer interaction
Consider providers that select staff on the basis of language and cultural testing to ensure superior call quality. This can include local employees in addition to expats who have a firm grasp of the language and Western business culture. A BPO provider with a good quality assurance programme will improve the overall operational efficiency of the business and reduce the cost of service.
Call centre location
Don’t let rumours or stereotypes cloud the reality of the world’s top contact centre locations. The Philippines, for instance, is now the world’s No.1 location for BPO, and part of its explosion onto the scene over the last decade comes thanks to the strong English-speaking skills and high literacy of its employees, plus the available infrastructure to support stable telecommunications.
Offshoring doesn’t have to mean massive layoffs. Offshoring can allow you to create more highly-skilled, high-wage jobs for your remaining staff. For example, when customer service and product support operations are transferred, you can use your team to focus on activities that lead to new sources of revenue or reengage lost customers with new offers to win them back.
Select a BPO provider that has a clear transition programme in place to help you offshore. This will include the ability to set up your technology and infrastructure, handle knowledge transfer, manage your business processes and recruit the best team to take on the persona of your brand.
A common fear with offshoring is that companies will lose sight of what is happening to their data and their customer interaction. The right provider will update you regularly through video conferencing and phone calls and make live performance data available to you. If possible, select a partner with a local presence with whom you can meet to discuss the operations and plan for the future.
If you’re concerned about data security (and, let’s face it, who isn’t?), find a dependable company that has a security team. This kind of provider will understand IT security services and apply them in their contact centres.
Companies worry about events like natural disasters disrupting offshore operations, but those situations happen in Australia as well, as any Queensland business affected by the 2011 floods and cyclone can tell you. A BPO provider with a proper Disaster Recovery approach and Business Continuance Plan will keep the work flowing despite a disruptive event.
Treat your BPO provider like you’d treat a potential new hire. Call other companies the provider has done business with and conduct reference checks. Also make sure to meet the people who will be managing and providing the key support to the contact centre.
Getting back onshore
Even if bringing parts of your business back onshore is a distant thought, it helps to know your provider can do it. Look for companies that offer a transition programme, where all the technology is set up for you when you’re ready to transfer back to Australia.
Kirsty Hunter is a Managing Director of Datacom responsible for the BPO business in Australia and Asia. With two decades of experience in the technology industry, Kirsty is responsible for growing Datacom’s BPO business from 150 seats to over a 1,000 across the Asia Pacific region and she established Datacom’s Asia presence across Malaysia, the Philippines and China.
A recognised thought leader in her field, Kirsty has worked with leading technology and service organisations around the world to design and deploy service offerings and technology solutions that deliver enduring performance. Today, Kirsty is committed to moving organisations forward, through service solutions that are enabled by Datacom’s leading technology platforms and industry expertise.