So You're Looking for an Outsourcing Company
When you outsource work to a business process outsourcing company, it can be tough to know where to start. There are so many different companies offering a wide range of services. How do you choose the best outsourcing partner for marketing, lead generation, call center services, and back office?
This blog post will give you a few tips on picking the best outsourcing company for your business. These criteria work for any scale, although more extensive programs might require more involved selection tools like a request for information (RFI) or a request for proposal (RFP) where you enunciate formal project requirements.
Do they feel right? You can usually judge this on your first discovery call with your prospective vendor. Most people do this reflexively when they like or prefer one vendor to another.
Take some time to read about the company's history and see if its values align with yours. It might not be the best fit for your business if they don't. If possible, research the company's senior staff to learn more about them since your vendor will likely reflect their principal's values and personality.
Are you planning to work with a large vendor whose senior staff is well removed from the day-to-day? Review their website's About section to learn more about the organization. Check social media to know what the company thinks is worth posting.
This intuitive gauge of a company's fit with you is an essential aspect of your developing relationship. You will undoubtedly need to spend a lot of time working with your vendor to get the program operating and working well; it pays to work with people who align well with your work style and reflect your values.
Like dining out, there are all kinds of offshore outsourcers, and in many cases, cost does equate to value.
Offshore outsourcing means you are making a cost-based decision on some level. If money were no object, you would probably stay onshore, but money is (almost) always a significant consideration for any commercial transaction. As a friend, who runs sales for a large BPO, once said: it's always about the price.
If you can't meet on price with a prospective vendor, then there's no deal to be had, and you're better off moving on to interview a different provider.
It pays to be realistic about what you will need to pay for your program. At the smaller end of the size range for outsourcing providers, it's a race to the bottom, but the cheapest option may not be the best for you.
Many people who outsource to remote workers want to save time to invest elsewhere more effectively. Outsourcing to the cheapest provider will likely mean more work for you down the road as they scramble to make up margins on their low bid with lackluster talent or poor attention to detail.
You should expect to pay a fair price for quality service, but you also need to ensure that the provider's pricing structure is compatible with your business model.
Can they do what you want? Do they have the necessary skills and experience to do the job? Your vendor may not have experience with exactly what you are doing — and this is okay — processes are processes. Still, they need to understand your business objectives to deliver the goods.
You also need to be able to rely on your team's skills. When speaking with a prospective vendor, ask them about the skills of their staff and how they keep those skills up-to-date. Do they have a training program for new staff? Have they won industry awards? (FYI, Lambent Outsourcing has been selected among the Top Outbound Call Center Companies by Designrush and recognized by the online directory, Clutch, for their Manifest Awards.
Do they have well-defined, documented processes? If your program has unique requirements — and how many don't have individual requirements — can they build procedures to suit your work. You don't want to be confined by strict processes, but you do want a team that has the means to make your processes bullet-proof through quality documentation. Ask to see related documentation and process descriptions.
Check out their website and see if they have a client list. Do they have case studies or other forms of results-based references like Clutch or different types of social proof?
During your discovery call, you should also ask for references and follow up with those references. It's one thing for the vendor to say they're great at what they do — it's another for one of their clients to confirm their value.
Communication is vital because you will be working closely with your vendor's team and need to understand each other. When going offshore, does your account manager speak and understand English? Does the vendor understand your project and the terminology that you will use to communicate your expectations?
Once you decide to move forward with a particular vendor, be sure that you agree on clear guidelines and expectations for communication frequency and type (email, phone calls, video conferencing, etc.) Some people prefer frequent video calls; some want email updates, and some live by chat and text.
Do yourself a favor and be upfront about how you want to communicate and how often. Be sure that your program includes ground rules for clear, regular, and candid communication.
No program is static; indeed, your process should evolve and improve. Your business might change, things evolve, and new opportunities arise.
You need a vendor that adapts to change in stride. Indeed, the best vendors drive positive change through incremental improvement.
Outsourcing is a long-term proposition, and as such, you should be looking for a vendor who will be able to grow with you. Can they add more staff on short notice if you need to ramp up the program quickly? Do they have the capacity to work on other projects you might outsource in the future?
You should also consider the transparency of your vendor's processes. Do they have a quality assurance program? Can you see how they train and manage staff? What kind of feedback do they get from clients, and how do they use that feedback to improve their services? Do you have access to their management to provide feedback and discuss concerns as they arise?
Outsourcing's DNA includes dashboards and reporting, but transparency is more than prompt, accurate statistics. Can your vendor have difficult discussions when things don't go exactly right? Honesty and transparency are essential when your team is halfway around the world.
Lambent Outsourcing has been selected among the Top Outbound Call Center Companies by Designrush.