Outsourcing is not a new idea and has been commonplace for years now. However, it is definitely gaining a lot of popularity recently. Outsourcing refers to contacting a third-party vendor to do some work for you on a contractual basis. This article will give you an overview on the different types of jobs that are outsourced by companies and the importance of outsourcing. You will also be able to understand more about what these jobs are, how long it takes to complete them, and the advantages of outsourcing work.
Types of Outsourcing
This is the most common type of outsourcing and includes specialized, professional services such as legal, accounting, purchasing, and administrative jobs. An example is when you hire an accounting firm instead of using an in-house accountant. It is possible for an organization to save a lot of money since they only pay for the services provided. Apart from this, outsourcing reduces the overhead costs such as additional office space, utilities, supplies, computers, etc.
With outsourcing, it is possible to get access to talent outside the ambit of your organization. It is also easier to let a contract worker go if things do not go as planned, as opposed when a full-time employee is asked to leave.
The most common feature about companies like Cisco and Accenture is that they have outsourced their IT development tasks to remote workers or offshore developers. Some of them have even hired remote workers as full-time employees.
IT outsourcing is also one of the most popular types of outsourcing and it is possible to hire offshore developers for a fraction of the cost. The company will have access to trained, certified, skilled, and highly qualified developers and focused teams take only a few days to get access to technology. You can thus focus on the task at hand instead of worrying about skilling up your current team.
This involves hiring a manufacturing company who can produce your goods at a cheaper price. This process will cost you a fraction of what you would spend otherwise. If you hire a company to focus only on manufacturing, it means they already have all the plans/suppliers/workflow worked out and will be able to deliver the products in a timely manner.
However, it is important to align your ethics and practice with that of the company you are outsourcing to so that both of you are on the same plane in terms of the values.
Sometimes companies may need help with some projects but not on a full-time basis. For instance, help with redesigning a website or writing some content. In such cases, it is better to outsource the project rather than using help from an in-house resource. Hiring a remote worker is cheaper than getting an in-house resource to do it and let’s you choose a resource with specific expertise.
Choosing an external resource also helps in completing the project within the stipulated time and the work done will also be high on quality. Overall, the turnaround time will also be less than what it would take an in-house talent to achieve especially if the concerned job is not their area of expertise.
Let us Understand Some Strategies of Outsourcing
Choose your Involvement Level
When you outsource work, you can be as involved as you want and follow up with the progress of work. You can also keep directing the workflow from time to time.
Time Difference Orientation
Outsourcing to a good company can take care of the problem of time difference and related delivery delays. Good brands offer a wide selection of talent who work in shifts to ensure that the projects are completed in a timely manner.
Benefits of Outsourcing
Access to Skilled Expertise
The primary reasons for companies to outsource work is that some of it may require a different expertise level. This further helps the company focus on its core task – that of providing high-quality product or service to its customers. Outsourcing the task has better outcomes since there are people who can perform it better.
Focus on Core Activities
When there are additional non-core functions, it leads to an increase in workload. Thus, the overall quality of a company’s core activities may go down as the business grows. However, outsourcing to a third party will allow the internal team to focus on their primary tasks thereby improving productivity.
Outsourcing helps a company in sharing any associated risks with the partners and reduces their burden. For instance, it saves the trouble of getting the work done by an in-house member who may not be as competent in completing the work in hand.
Better in-house Efficiency
Once certain tasks are outsourced, it helps share the workload of a company. Further, the employees would be able to use their time and energy more efficiently.
Outsourcing to a company can help businesses make full use of their 24-hour day. Even after the employees leave for the day, the outsourcing partner can take over and continue the work including critical tasks. The employees can then review it the next day.
Flexibility with Staffing
Outsourcing specific tasks helps a company in maintaining financial flexibility during times when the demand is uncertain. This also allows the company to scale up or down comfortably. Outsourcing comes at a much lower cost and has the additional benefit of helping your business run even during the off season or holiday.
Better Customer Service and Experience
Given that the outsourcing partner has better skills and expertise, they would be able to send out the deliverables faster, and businesses can improve their turnaround time. On-time deliveries and service would amount to better customer experience and increased satisfaction. The business will thus have loyal customers who will in turn recommend the services to others as well.
Cost Effective with Savings
The above benefits will overall lead to cost-effectiveness and big savings for a business! Outsourcing removes the overheads that a company can be burdened with in terms of maintaining infrastructure, utilities, payroll, etc.
A Competitive Edge
The ultimate benefit of outsourcing is an organization can gain a competitive advantage over others in the domain. With strategic outsourcing, a company not only provides its customers with the best-in-class services, but also improves productivity. At the same time, it will be able to manage the in-house resources in a better manner. Outsourcing also helps in getting an edge over competitors who may not yet understand the benefits of outsourcing.
The Rise of Customer Support Outsourcing
There are certain considerations before companies can ensure top quality customer service while outsourcing. Here are five ways to ensure efficient customer service outsourcing processes.
- Make sure you establish brand voice and tone guidelines. Your customers are used to a certain way in which you talk to them. This should remain constant even when you use an external support team. It is a good idea to create a set of brand guidelines specifying what the team can or cannot say.
- Ensure that you research multiple options. Spend a lot of time in considering and searching for a viable solutions partner. There are certain call centers which can handle high-volume or repetitive conversations. Others focus on more in-depth situations. Other things to consider include time differences, language needs and the minimum support volume.
- It is important to consider legal and security risks. Review your internal security before allowing a third party to access your documents and understand which customer data is sensitive. Make sure to restrict access to information such as credit card details, health records, etc. Get your legal team to review documents, NDAs, etc.
- Make sure you invest in the right tools to communicate better with your outsourced support team.
- Take out time to train the team no matter how busy your schedule is. This will make sure there is no room for errors and quick onboarding.
Now that you have considered the right outsourcing company, let us look at the different types of providing customer service.
The safest bet is when it comes to starting out with customer support is email support, and the current industry turnaround standard is 24 hours. This also eliminates the risk of the representative not being understood by the customer or not physically present during the query. It can help resolve minor queries where the representative does not need to be present on call.
Another type is live chat support which is a more immediate customer service role. Sometimes, a customer may need immediate help with a query and in such cases, live chat support works the best.
Inbound and Outbound Call Centers
The third is called call center outsourcing particularly when there is a high volume of customer interaction. In case of large organizations, there may be constant customer support required with several calls coming in. In such cases, inbound and outbound call centers can be the answer.
It is important to choose the right type of customer support based on your business needs. Once you have made the choice, also consider the following transition process.
Transitioning Duties to your Outsourced Team
Pay close attention to the contract and hire a lawyer for all the paperwork. Make sure to read all the service level agreements in depth. It is important to hire a manager to maintain a connection between your existing and outsourced team. This can work well if you hire an internal staff member who can facilitate communication.
There will also be a need to set up a shared knowledge bank for your remote customer service and creating documents such as a product manual, training videos, customer interaction guidelines, FAQs, etc. Lastly, set up a review system as this will ensure you can track the team’s progress.
Benefits of Outsourcing Customer Service
Saving Money and Resources
Many businesses, especially ones that are still in the beginning stages, may not have the wherewithal to hire and onboard extra customer service representatives. It thus makes sense to outsource customer service since you will get a skilled workforce at a lower cost; can control the IT cost; be able to focus on relevant human resources; and reduce the upkeep and maintenance costs.
Lesser Supervision Required
When you hire a customer support outsourcing company, there will be minimal supervision needed. This will allow you to focus on your core business goals.
Easy Performance Monitoring
A business process outsourcing company comes with the right tools and resources to ensure effective and quality services. With KPIs and analytics in place to measure employee performance and track activities, they come with better prospects for a company.
Immediate Delivery of Customer Support
Customers today look for fast and convenient support services to resolve issues. To maintain this expectation, it is a good idea to delegate tasks to a BPO outsourcing company. It comes with extensive support and an ever ready 24×7 customer support.
Efficient Customer Support Management
A BPO outsourcing company comes with established systems, tools, and processes which may cost you a lot of money to invest in otherwise. This will further enable in delivering faster and efficient support to customers.
Factors to Consider before Outsourcing
There are certain factors to be considered before outsourcing.
Plan your Budget
To make sure that the process is cost effective, a company must prepare the budget in advance. It is important to deeply analyse the pricing of different outsourcing companies. This will help you make sure whether you are choosing the right customer service provider to streamline your overhead costs.
They should have Enough Resources and Technology
Ask in advance about the technologies and tools readily available at their disposal. Discuss and find out whether they have the capability to handle the outsourcing needs of your company. This is because under-trained customer service representatives may not be able to give you the benefits that you’re looking for.
Service Level Agreement in Outsourcing Contracts
This is an important part of any outsourcing contract. A well-drafted SLA sets certain expectations for both parties and gives guidance for measuring accurate performance.
Companies depend a lot on their reputation since every one of the products and services is under a scanner. The outsourcing company should also therefore maintain the highest possible standards since a strong brand can maintain and enhance reputation. A weaker brand on the other hand can spoil the image.
Check Legal Compliance
This is important because legal protections and laws vary from one country to another. Learn and educate yourself about the legalities and comply with them.
Why you Should Outsource
Outsourcing helps in lowering operational costs and is a good alternative to hiring a full-time support team. This means there will be no need to pay a fixed salary and other benefits. It also reduces workforce costs.
A BPO outsourcing company helps in increasing support coverage quickly. If companies choose to hire employees, the process can take several weeks. Business process outsourcing ensures that your team’s time is spent on other projects and in a better way. It also helps in scaling up your business. This is more in cases where a business is undergoing changes and there is less time to focus on customer support. Outsourcing also helps you increase your global coverage.
When you Shouldn’t Outsource
While it is good to outsource, make sure you do not fall into the following pitfalls.
Never outsource to exercise high budget cuts. While outsourcing can cut costs in the short run, it might affect your quality of service. Low-cost customer service providers can only handle repetitive support requests. Never outsource to avoid support responsibilities. This is because business process outsourcing is a partnership requiring communication and hard work on both sides.
Leaving the outsourced support team to fend for itself may make them get disconnected from the brand. This can make the customer support quality drop at an alarming rate. Although customer service providers are experts, do not assume they can solve all business outsourcing problems overnight. Ensuring the best customer service needs time, consistency and planning. When this is done, you will have the best team in place that offers the best service and therefore long-lasting customers.
With the right outsourcing provider – be it customer support or project outsourcing – you can take your business to great heights, achieve mammoth savings and most importantly enjoy complete peace of mind giving you the freedom to focus on things you are passionate about.