This post was originally published on the FCR blog on May 12, 2016. Click here to read the original.
There are a variety of reasons to outsource customer service work. Having been a part of outsourcing from both sides of the relationship, I’ve discovered that there’s one thing that rings true. A decision to outsource is a decision to entrust an essential aspect of your customer experience to a group of agents not housed under the same roof as you. This can feel like a big responsibility and risk, and as I mentioned in a recent post on contact center attrition, it’s a reminder of the importance of partnering with an outsourcer that places great emphasis on culture and employee engagement.
That being said, the best outsourcing relationships occur when companies partner with the outsourcer and view their outsourced team as an extension of our internal team. Here are some ways to do just that:
1. Host regular colleague round table discussions
We often encourage our clients to meet with the colleagues on their team in a group setting. This is a great opportunity to find out what’s working well and what isn’t from the colleague perspective. Taking action on this feedback and closing the loop with the team shows them that their voice is heard and their opinion is valued.
2. Have periodic one on one meetings
Depending on the size of your team, take time to meet one on one with each member on occasion. Get to know your colleagues on a human level in addition to discussing their work. Knowing that the client cares about the success of the individuals on the team is very important.
3. Visit them regularly
A great outsourcing partner opens their doors to their clients, allowing them to set up shop and work with the colleagues as much or as little as they want to. Take the time to visit the outsourcer regularly. Your presence is integral in making colleagues feel a part of the team.
4. Allow colleagues to see behind the curtain
Consider flying some members of your team to headquarters to work with the internal team and learn more about operations. This is a great way to reward top performers. It leaves team members excited to go back to work and share what they learned and observed with the rest of the team.
A little SWAG goes a long way. While the colleagues work for the outsourcer, they also take great pride in the companies they represent. T-shirts and other items with the company name on it go a long way. If not SWAG, pizza and doughnuts are always appreciated as well.
6. Open communication channels
There are so many great tools out there to make communication between headquarters and the outsourced team effective. Tools like Slack allow colleagues to share feedback and ask questions and allow headquarters to share updates quickly. They also make the friendly banter between coworkers possible.
7. Recognize talent regardless of location
You may quickly discover stars on your outsourced team that perform every bit as good as your internal team— maybe even better. Don’t let the fact that they are outsourced stop you from giving them added responsibility and working with the outsourcer to reward and promote them accordingly.
8. Conduct employee engagement surveys
A number of our clients conduct their regular employee engagement surveys with their outsourced team. While you perhaps don’t have the same control over employee engagement as you would if they were in house, the right outsourcing partner will get you extremely close. Use that to drive real improvement to their work.
9. Empower, empower, empower
You may find that you want to limit the access and ability of the outsourced colleagues. As they become proficient, the more you can empower them to solve problems, especially if it prevents escalations, the better. A great team will prove themselves worthy of the added responsibility.
10. Have fun
At FCR, there is something fun going on almost every day in our centers. It’s ok to let your hair down and join in. Some colleagues from one of our centers traveled to a client that was local and glitter bombed her office on her birthday. I’m pretty sure she got them back all in good fun.
These are just some of the ways we’ve seen our clients actively work to drive engagement with their outsourced team. In a great outsourcing relationship, the outsourcer welcomes and encourages it. This is a surefire way to drive attrition down and employee engagement up.