As a leading provider of live agent phone answering services, we are big proponents of outsourcing. Quite frankly, most small businesses would struggle mightily without great outsourcing partners that can manage marketing plans, computer systems, ongoing customer support and more (and for a fraction of the price of full-time employees).
However, over the years we’ve noticed common mistakes business owners make when outsourcing, so that’s why we put together these ‘5 Keys to Successful Outsourcing’:
Many businesses we speak with really don’t know what they want; they just know they need help. While that’s understandable, it can also drastically affect the success of outsourced solutions due to the fact there’s no clear desired outcome other than ‘better customer service’, or ‘more effective marketing’, etc.
Instead, you want to be very specific about what you are looking for, which means you really need to think it through before looking for a provider.
For example, if you are looking to deliver a better customer experience, what processes are hurting you today? Are you sending callers to voicemail and wondering how many people are hanging up on you? If so, you need to find a quality answering service that will make sure your phones are answered professionally around-the-clock. Do you have a website that doesn’t render properly on mobile devices? If so, you need to contract with a website provider that can build you something in responsive design so your customers find everything they need on the go.
Do you see where we are going with this? Be very specific about the problems you have. Doing so allows you to zero in on the best solutions and choose the right providers to deliver them.
Outsourcing groups have lots of knowledge, expertise, and experience— and can easily convince you to let them handle everything for you. However, at the end of the day, they are long gone if your business starts to struggle and you can’t pay for their services.
So always remember who’s in charge. Ignorance is certainly not bliss when it comes to outsourcing. If you aren’t aware of all of the things going on within your organization, shame on you— there’s no one to blame but yourself if things go sideways.
Therefore, implement processes to manage your outsourced solutions. Set goals and milestones, and analyze your progress along the way. And when things aren’t going as planned, let your provider know. A good outsourcing company will acknowledge that desired outcomes aren’t being achieved, and will work with you to fix things. Or, they will inform you that they may not be the best fit for your business— which is perfectly fine as well. Better to discover that sooner rather than later and be honest about it before too much time and money is wasted.
Outsourcing companies generally make money by pooling together lots of clients so that resources can be shared across all of them. And that’s great because as a business owner, you are only on the hook for a fraction of those costs!
While you would love your outsourced provider to know your business intimately, and perform the job better than people you already have on staff (and for pennies on the dollar)— that’s just not realistic. So don’t fight it; instead, embrace it. Be realistic about the limitations your providers have, and put together systems and processes that adjust for the shortcomings. Remember what you are after with outsourcing: improved operational efficiencies and cost-savings.
Understanding what your providers can’t do is equally important as understanding what they can do.
If you are starting the relationship with your outsourced provider by saying, “Here’s the 50 things I want you to do…” you’re already in trouble. Instead, narrow it down to the 3 most important things you need done, and expand from there. Doing so serves several purposes:
We’d all love to have outsourced providers build things quickly that work right away. However, we also know that’s generally unrealistic. Nothing works right out of the box, and things just take time to get right.
For the first month or two of your engagement, your outsourced provider might just be getting to know you and your customers so they can develop a proper plan of attack. Then there’s building the technologies and/or processes, testing them in action, analyzing their performance, fine-tuning, re-working, re-launching, etc. There may be countless meetings between you and your provider before the proper solution is implemented— and there’s nothing wrong with that. As the old saying goes, anything worth having is worth waiting for.
Therefore, be patient with the process and let your provider iron out the kinks so that their solution is running effectively before you throw in the towel. We’ve worked with lots of clients that signed up for our call answering services and were ready to scream after one phone call… however, most of those clients have since apologized and have became life long customers once they let us fine-tune their phone answering vigorex scripts, tweak their call flow, re-work the follow-up procedures, etc. It’s just what needs to happen to optimize call answering procedures.
Nothing is perfect from the start; but with the proper amount of patience (and ongoing dialogue between you and your solution provider), the outcomes can improve quickly. The end result being a solution you will be extremely proud of (and one that makes you lots of money!).