By Dino Forte, Managing Director at Ventrica
How has outsourcing been affected by the recession?
“Outsourcing typically thrives during a downturn because it allows organisations to reduce headcount, improve efficiency and reduce costs. During a recession, customer retention is all important and outsourcing customer contact can be a good move if you want to better manage current customer expectations. Whether it’s managing complaints or support issues via the phone or responding to email messages, long-term relationships will only be forged by maintaining good communication. By using an outsourcer, you can even extend your hours to differentiate yourself from the competition.”
What sized businesses can benefit from outsourcing? and any particular sectors more than others?
“Ironically the concept of outsourcing has matured due to the publicity created around companies off-shoring to locations such as India. This has benefitted the domestic providers as more businesses have woken up to how outsourcing can increase efficiency and reduce their cost base. This is particularly true for tasks such as customer response. Outsourcers have already invested in the technology, infrastructure and skills to handle this, so why go to the expense of replicating this in-house.
It also allows smaller businesses to act like larger competitors by drawing on the resources of an outsourcer when they need them. For example, a seasonal marketing campaign may generate a large volume of incoming calls during a specific time period. It does not make financial sense to employ, train and manage this resource internally, if the need is only temporary.
Although outsourcing is really applicable to any industry, the key sectors tend to be financial services, insurance, travel, leisure, IT and ecommerce/mail-order businesses.”
What are the commons myths about outsourcing and is there any truth in them?
“Many perceive that outsourcing will fail to live up to in-house efforts. In reality, an external provider can often offer better service levels because they are experts in what they do - living and breathing this type of work on a daily basis. Not only that, but the scale of technological resources available to an outsourcer, ensures that customers are not left frustrated waiting in a queue or are forced to look elsewhere when their call goes unanswered.”
Overseas or UK - how do you decide?
“If it involves customer interaction then stay on-shore. Although, offshore may be cheaper, you need to measure cost against the importance of good customer service. If the latter is compromised then you will only pay the price in the long-term.”
how do you get it right if you do choose to outsource?
“The biggest mistake is often down to selecting the wrong partner. An outsourcing relationship only works where there is a natural synergy between two organisations that share the same culture and processes. Sufficient due diligence upfront should ensure that you find the right match.”
About The Author
Dino Forte is Managing Director at Ventrica www.ventrica.co.uk , an outsourced contact centre that provides a range of third party customer contact and lead generation services, answers some typical questions surrounding the topic of outsourcing and why it is becoming increasingly popular with SMEs.