Author: Cheryl Coppens

In a world where companies are looking for ways to streamline their operations and hiring and retaining good talent has become challenging, more businesses are turning to BPO outsourcing companies.  

Working with an outsourcing partner offers a proven way to enhance customer experience while keeping costs contained and staying ahead of the curve. Your partner can handle many functions efficiently, freeing up internal resources for other priorities.  

However, choosing the right BPO outsourcing company is no small task, with many options available.  

To effectively vet an outsourcing partner, here’s what to consider.  

Before You Begin Your BPO Journey

If you want to ensure your relationship with a potential BPO partner is strong, it starts with ensuring clear communication and clearly defined responsibilities. By doing this from day one, you’re helping prevent potential problems as everyone understands what’s required.  

When considering partnering with a BPO, the initial focus will be on what to outsource, the scope, how many agents you’ll need, the organizational structure, and business requirements.  

For many organizations, the primary goal is cost reduction, which impacts the type of vendor selected. This is why a solid strategy driving the selection process is critical.

Too often, companies often jump into considering outsourcing partners without taking the proper steps during the vetting process.  

To help you ensure you’re taking a strategic approach to vetting BPO outsourcing companies, let’s look at five key areas you can focus on, along with questions you should be asking yourself and potential vendors.  

#1. Partnership 

Like any great partnership, working with BPO outsourcing companies requires understanding exactly how you would work together. Think of it like any other partnership where you’ll want to determine your key goals and values and ensure everyone is on the same page before you commit.  

The following will influence whether or not this is the right partner: 

Culture: Does the company’s culture align with yours? Do their vision and mission complement your goals? 

Size: How big is each BPO outsourcing company you’re vetting? How many clients do they have? How do they ensure each client gets the focus and attention needed if they’re a larger company? 

Management: Mismatched management styles can cause friction. How involved is the management team in day-to-day operations? How do they handle performance issues with staff? 

Scale/Burst: Does the company have the resources and infrastructure to scale when needed? If you have a business that goes through seasonal highs and lows, can they accommodate that? 

Flexibility: Do they have the ability to flex their workforce when it needs to change? Can they scale up or down quickly?  


#2. Location

A significant consideration when vetting potential outsourcing partners is their location. Whether you’re choosing between offshoring, nearshoring or onshoring, you’ll want to understand how the site may enhance (or detract) from your operations. 

Location-related factors to consider include: 

Languages: Is the primary language the BPO operates in the same as yours? Are all staff fluent in the primary language? Do they have the ability to service customers in multiple languages to enhance your customer experience?  

Infrastructure: Does the company have a robust infrastructure? Does the location have any potential challenges with ensuring consistent connectivity? Are there any climate factors that could impact their ability to operate?  

Education: What’s the typical education level of employees? How complex are the products or services they’ll be handling? What additional education may be required for employees to serve your customers with skill and confidence? 

Accessibility: Is the location easily accessible to staff? How do people get to work? Is there public transit?

Safety: What’s the safety level of the country, city, or community where they’re located? Will you or your team be able to travel there without concern?  


#3. Pricing 

Pricing for outsourcing partners can vary widely, will largely depend on the level of services you require. Whether you need multilingual agents or deliver services requiring a high level of complex knowledge, BPOs can deliver — for a price.  

Questions to explore that impact pricing include:  

Languages: What languages does the BPO offer services in? If you’re looking to run a multilingual queue, expect that there will be incremental costs associated with doing so.

Skill Sets: What skill sets do you need your BPO to deliver? Customer service, customer retention, technical support, sales? Not all skill sets are interchangeable, so depending on your needs, your partner may need to provide a more diverse team.

Hours of Operation: What hours of operation do they offer? Are those more or less than what you currently have in-house? Expanded hours will impact your pricing.

Complexity: What level of complexity is involved in serving your customer base? Do they already have staff who can handle these calls, or will supplemental training be needed? The more skilled the workforce, the higher your potential cost. 

Efficiency: What sort of service levels do they guarantee? How quickly and efficiently are customers served? Do they have flexible resources they can leverage (for additional costs) to ensure service levels are met. 


#4. Workforce 

Effective recruiting, hiring, training and management of your workforce are vital to a successful relationship with BPO outsourcing companies. When looking at workforce management, some things to consider are:

Headcount Distribution: How’s their headcount distributed for their clients? Can they scale up or down the number of agents if the business needs to change? 

Routing: How does the call routing work? Do they have flexible queues?  

Remote/Onsite: How much of the workforce is on-site versus working remotely? Remote workers can be invaluable when it comes to disaster recovery or an in-office outage.  

Scheduling: What sort of scheduling options do they offer? Do they operate a 24/7 model? How many hours a day do you need staffing for? Are there office closures for holidays that may impact their ability to serve? 


#5. Performance and Measurement

To ensure things are going well and the agreements are met, specific goals and measurements are essential to monitor performance. While KPIs are usually the primary focus, there are some other factors to consider when talking about overall performance and measure of success. These may include: 

KPIs: What KPIs will be part of the agreement with your BPO? Who will define them? What happens when they aren’t met? 

Ops Model: What sort of operational model do they follow? 

Artificial Intelligence (AI): Are they currently leveraging AI technology? If so, when, and how is it used? When and how will it be used for your customers? 

Responsiveness: What kind of response time can you expect when issues arise? If a KPI isn’t met, what’s the timeline to discuss, adjust and implement?

Nimbleness: How quickly can they change gears when things are not working? 

Calibration: How often will you meet with the team to review results and recalibrate?  By

Choosing Between BPO Outsourcing Companies: Consider Now AND the Future

As you build your list of requirements of what you’ll need when working with BPO outsourcing companies, don’t forget to think about the future. What you need now may change but depending on your company’s goals for the long term, selecting a partner who can grow and change with you will make everything easier. 

Remember, when choosing between potential outsourcing partners that a great BPO relationship is about more than just having people in chairs. It’s about building a partnership where everyone is working together to meet the needs of your customers and company in the best way possible. 

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