Developing a Long Term Relationship with Your BPO Provider


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Many consumers don’t know this when speaking with call center agents, but many Fortune 500 companies outsource their customer service to third-party BPO providers. It’s very likely the person helping you with the issue for your phone, television or product isn’t directly employed for that company. Traditionally, reducing costs is the primary reason why a company approaches an outsource provider. It’s expensive to deliver customer service via phone and online, especially on a global scale. And on average, companies can save 20-30% when working with a BPO provider such as Firstsource.

However, organizations we speak to are increasingly looking beyond costs and are actively concerned with how they can enhance their customer’s experience and satisfaction. The thinking is by a company partnering with a BPO provider, that company can focus on doing what they do best: producing products or offering services, while we can focus on doing what we do best: delivering a great experience to the company’s customers.

Admittedly, it’s challenging for BPOs to differentiate their offering as the services are usually very similar. Companies that are passionate about CX are the ones that can usually provide most benefits, rather than the simple transactional players. Another thing to consider is looking at BPOs that value a long-term relationship as these companies will get a better hold on long-term business objectives and look for new and innovative solutions to meet them.

There are three factors to consider in any BPO relationship: time, quality and price. Getting the customer experience right takes time and it’s an investment to get quality service. It’s important for companies to be flexible with the design of a contact center program and outlining which factors (time, quality, price) are the most important to reach the business objectives they are hoping for. Sometimes you have to prioritize which factor is most important to your company to reach the highest caliber customer service.

Long-lasting BPO relationships also need open communication, honesty and flexibility. As the BPO provider, it’s onus to tell companies the things they probably don’t want to hear, such as when the budget needs to be expanded to meet business objectives. To support the longevity of the relationship, communication also needs to be two-way. As a BPO partner, we need to understand the outcomes companies are looking for in order for us to deliver the desired result.

Creating a shared risk and reward arrangement also helps to minimize the risk for both parties, while ensuring that performance is at the highest possible levels. For example, BPO/client contracts often include penalties for not meeting the agreed upon service levels. It is equally important to have a reward clause. In my experience, rewarding for exceeding expectations can greatly enhance performance and is an important ingredient in a long term, mutually successful partnership.

Another factor to consider is working with BPO providers that value the digital customer experience. As younger generations are becoming part of the customer client base, there is a much bigger focus on digital communication channels. And while we don’t expect telephone contact to disappear, other channels, such as webchat, online apps, online forums and email are certainly on the rise and should be a focus for companies and BPO providers alike.

As companies assess whether they are interested in outsourcing their customer service, looking for BPO providers that value long-term relationships, open communication and striving for high caliber service should all be considered top priorities. Our average client tenure is around 10 years, because we look to evolve our services with the changing customer dynamic while also emphasizing our client relationships.

Kathy Aman
Kathy Aman, senior vice president of sales and customer relationship management at Firstsource Solutions,has more than 14 years of experience in the call center management industry with experience in collections and receivables management for U.S. domestic companies. Her strengths are in relationship management, business development, and finding effective solutions to meet her clients' business needs.


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