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On this week’s episode of The Bridge, I sit down with David McAbee, Vice President of Enterprise Solutions here at Bridgepointe, to discuss leveraging the business process outsourcing model.
Bridgepointe helps mid-market and enterprise clients make quicker, more informed tech investments. We help our clients save time by shortening the IT procurement process while saving money and increasing ROI.
During this conversation, we talk about some of the myths we hear about the business process outsourcing model and how companies can get better results for less money.
We also talk about what happens when you have the most discerning customers with high service expectations and combine that with a slowing economy, as well as why leveraging the business process outsourcing model to cut costs doesn’t automatically mean sacrificing customer experience.
Topics covered in this episode:
- Why the business process outsourcing model is evolving rapidly.
- The actual cost of choosing the wrong business process outsourcing model.
- The role that business process outsourcing models play in skill sets and talent enhancement.
- What makes companies reluctant to embrace the business process outsourcing model?
- The importance of documentation and expert guidance when choosing the proper business process outsourcing model.
- Myths about the business process outsourcing model.
- The mainstreaming of AI technology
ABOUT DAVID MCABEE
Vice President Enterprise Solutions | Transformational Leader | Future of Customer Success & CX | Brand Building | Storytelling | Scaling Growth & Operations | Change Management | Advisor | Speaker
There are many things that lead to poor customer experiences including knowledge gaps, lack of insight, tech debt, and lack of vision. I help my clients overcome these challenges to achieve efficient and repeatable customer journeys across all touch points.
Scott Kinka (00:13):
Alright, well, hi, and welcome to the Bridge. My special guest today on The Bridge, is Dave McAbee. He’s one of our own, the Vice President of Enterprise Solutions at Bridgepointe CX. How are you, Dave?
David McAbee (00:27):
Good. I’m good. Thanks for having me. This is great.
Scott Kinka (00:30):
We’re here at Channel Partners in Vegas. Another special episode we got while we’re here. You’ve been here for now for 24 hours?
David McAbee (00:39):
A little more than that. A little more than 24 hours.
Scott Kinka (00:40):
David McAbee (00:41):
I’m surprised I’ve got a voice right now. Yeah. After walking through Smokey Casinos and then having, I don’t know, 50 sidebar conversations on the way over here, <laugh>. Yeah,
Scott Kinka (00:49):
I’m good. Well, it’s good. It’s good to have you with us. We were only a few days away from announcing that, you know, we, after the acquisition of P P T Solutions at the beginning of the year, we’ve now rebranded the company as Bridgepointe CX. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, so officially all the way branded into the Bridgepoint family. Pretty awesome. Yeah. Exciting.
David McAbee (01:07):
It’s exciting. I think I got my sixth email address <laugh> this morning. <Laugh>. And this is your period of time. So now, now I’ve got the B B T cx. I think that’s my favorite one so far. No, it’s great. And listen, Bridgepointe, and I’m not just saying this because I work for the company. I should say this. It’s a phenomenal group of people. Yeah. I mean, I feel like the, the culture, the cultural sort of mix between what P P T was and why I was attracted to them, and then what Bridgepointe is, it’s, it’s so similar that it’s just been really welcoming and a lot of smart people, really driven people. So.
Scott Kinka (01:43):
Perfect. So we’re gonna jump, the reason that we’re talking, the reason we have one of our own on the pod today, is we wanted to hop into a topic and that’s on everybody’s minds with the economy being where it is, which is, you know, BPO or business process outsourcing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But before we do that, why don’t you give us a little bit of background so our listeners can find out a little bit more Sure. Or know a little bit more about you and where you come from. Yeah,
David McAbee (02:09):
Yeah, sure. Well, let me tell you the stuff that your listeners care about cuz they’re not gonna care about the fact that I, I’ve been a beekeeper in the past, or that I like to go scuba diving. We can.
Scott Kinka (02:19):
That’s okay. I mean, we should explore that stuff. You’ve, you’re a beekeeper.
David McAbee (02:23):
Not now. Not now. I’m too busy for that right now, but I’ve been stung plenty of times, and it’s, it’s fun. No, so in, in my career, I got into the CX space, and that’s what, you know, kind of what we’re in, right? Customer experience. About 12 or 13 years ago, I moved into it completely by chance. I was in software sales, mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. I got a call from a friend who had just been working for a company in the space selling cloud IVR back when you had to explain to people what cloud meant. Yeah. Right. And he called me and, and said, Hey, come over. It’s great. We’re having a lot of fun. And I said, well, it to me. And he said, well, we’re, you know, explaining what they were doing. And I said, well, that sounds like automated phone systems.
That sounds terrible. <Laugh>. Yeah. And, and I said, no, no, it’s, it’s customer experience. It’s a whole industry. It’s growing, you know. And so anyway, so I went there, and it was, and, and, and truly I fell in love with the industry because I don’t, I can’t think of many other industries. They are changing so fast, but are also so important to the enterprise because this is where the rubber meets the road for companies. This is where they talk to their customers. Anything you do in the CX space directly impacts revenue. So anyway, so I started there, and I learned the business. I went from there into the contact center as a service, CaaS, we call it space. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> worked for a very small company that doesn’t exist anymore for a couple of years. Yeah. And then I went to in contact.
Yeah. And I’ll tell you, it’s really interesting when you work for a small company that has no budget and no marketing,, you develop your craft. Yeah. Right. I had to be my own podcaster, and I had to be my own blog writer and be my own marketing person and all these things. And so when I, when I got to in contact, they just made it into the Gartner Leader Quadrant. Yeah. And it was like putting fire to a barrel of kerosene or something like that. Yeah. I mean, it was unbelievable. So I had a great career there. I was in sales, I always made President’s Club, had a lot of fun, sold great deals, and moved into a sales leadership role after the NICE acquisition. Yeah. So I started the first named accounts team Yeah. For Nice, what is now called the CX one product?
And we had to learn how to go sell to a large enterprise. Yeah. And what we found out was you talked to the large enterprise differently than you talked to the mid-market. Yeah. Right. There are different assets. They expect different ways. And, so anyway, built that that expanded into what they called the key segment. I ran several different sales teams there. And then, in 2021, I had a chance to leave there and go into b the BPO space. Yeah. And that was exciting. I didn’t really know BPO all that well, to be honest. Yeah. That’s not really why they wanted me. So one of the things that has been happening is these outsourcers, it’s a very low margin business. And so for them to simply staff agents, mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, right. They take customer care calls.
They do a lot more than that. We’ll talk about that in a little bit. Sure. it’s a very low-margin business. All of that has been trying to become more of a customer experience as a service kind of provider Yeah. Where they own the entire customer journey. Yeah. And so they want the digital parts of the journey. They want to own the routing platform, they want the post-contact surveys, and all of those things. And when they reached out to me, they said, you know, we’re, we’re looking at you because you don’t come from the old B P O world. Yeah. So you’re not coming in with that perspective of coming in to try to sell the project for just a 2% cheaper. Yeah. Yeah. Then the previous guy. Yeah. So I spent, that’s funny. We had some conversations about that on the pre-call <laugh> just a few minutes ago.
I got it. And, and so I, I created a different go-to-market, and it was around the entire customer journey and around the entire customer experience. We changed the way we talked about it. We built a pre-sales organization that allowed us to do scoping and needs analysis the way you might do it in more of the software space. We built a channel organization that didn’t exist mm-hmm. <Affirmative> for them. And it was a great learning experience. Interestingly enough, the first partner that I went to go sign was P P T when
Scott Kinka (06:18):
David McAbee (06:19):
<Laugh> when I did that. Cuz I, I like those guys so much. Anyway, I had a great run there, and then I left there, and I went to a startup in the BI and analytics space, also in cx. Yeah. So, and there I was responsible for opening up some new channels for them that, that they weren’t selling into. Yeah. so I’ve really enjoyed the fact, and it’s been a happy coincidence. I didn’t plan my career this way. Yeah. But, I went from sort of the IVR space where I was learning how to sell self-service to the cloud contact center space, BPO, BI, and analytics. There’s a lot of AI and other kinds of components that sort of got wrapped into that to that journey. Along with things, all the ancillary technology, workforce management, quality, all those things. So I consider myself a little bit of a Swiss army knife, you know, I, know enough across a sort of the, the entire CX spectrum Yeah. To be, you know, effective for my
Scott Kinka (07:07):
Customers. Well, don’t tell yourself short because we wanted to do an episode that was focused on BPO, and everybody pointed at you as the guy. So we’re gonna get into that in a minute. But interesting background. Give us something. Give us a couple of the things that you think people aren’t interested in. Where do you live? A little bit of background. <Laugh>.
David McAbee (07:25):
I, I, so kids,
Scott Kinka (07:26):
Why, whatever, what do you get? Just
David McAbee (07:27):
Give us. Yeah. So born and raised in Virginia. Grew up in the Shandon Valley. Okay. I live in the DC Metro. I always said I would never live there cuz when you grow up in any other part of Virginia. And you fight that traffic, like, I’m never gonna live there. It’s never gonna happen.
Scott Kinka (07:40):
Anything worse than Northern Virginia traffic.
David McAbee (07:41):
I don’t know. I don’t know. Atlanta’s pretty bad <laugh>, but no. So, so I, I went there for school and said I would stay five years, and now almost 25 years later, I have a great wife. I have three kids. We have two dogs, you know. Yeah.
Scott Kinka (07:54):
The whole thing.
David McAbee (07:55):
Amazing. So very much of suburban life, so I travel as little as possible. Yeah. Cuz we’re, we’re right in the thick of it. I’ve got a 12-year-old son, a 10-year-old little girl, and a four-year-old little girl who’s about to turn 30. So
Scott Kinka (08:07):
Got it. I have a couple of those. Yeah. <laugh> they’re not four anymore, though. Yeah. But they were when they were four years old, they were turning 30. Yeah. I completely get that. Well, okay. So that’s awesome. And I appreciate that background. So, you know, the topic du jour here is really about BPO, and I sort of wanted to bring you on for a host of reasons. I think a lot of things are leading what has been a pretty, his, you know, a long history. Like, it’s not like this BPO concept is anything new, but all of a sudden, it’s like, it’s new, it’s getting lumped in with cx getting lumped in with ai. Yeah. It’s getting lumped in with customer journey conversations. Right. Yeah. And I think we, what I really was hoping to do was sort of explore that a little bit Sure. You know, kind of what it is and why and sort of step through those. So let’s just start with, you know, Dave McAbee’s definition of BPO, at least the way we think about BPO.
David McAbee (08:59):
Yeah. Well, the way we at Bridgepoint CX think about B P O is really, these are customer experience experts. These are organizations that are, that are truly experts at their craft. And a lot of times, I hate to give a definition by defining its negative, you know, like I, let me tell you, BPO is not right. Yeah. But, in many ways, it’s important to dispel some of the rumors or myths about BPO. Right. So BPO is not necessarily a cost-cutting measure. It does allow you to be more operationally efficient and therefore chief savings mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, but BPOs generally do CX better than a, you know, a lot of organizations do internally mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and there’s a very good reason for that. The CX base is rapidly evolving. Not only are customer expectations for what the experience feels like, mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, when you work with them constantly being ratcheted up, mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, they want you to know them, they want you to be predictive, they want you to be proactive. They don’t wanna have to repeat themselves and have to reauthenticate a lot of times. I mean, they, and, and of course they, they’re so used to having easy access to these ubiquitous communication channels Yeah. On our smartphones, they don’t understand why companies can’t do this easily. Yeah. Why isn’t it, why can’t you unknow me?
Scott Kinka (10:10):
Yeah. It’s so easy on my iPhone. Right?
David McAbee (10:12):
Yeah. I get it. And, and so there’s that, and then the technology in our space is, I mean, you, you’ve been here, you’ve seen all these vendors. Right. Technology’s changing so quickly that for most companies, it is impractical for them to remain experts in this space. It’s not core to their business either. Yeah. You know, if you’re an insurance company, you need to be an expert at actuarial tables, you know? Yeah. You don’t need to be an expert at the latest evolution of G P T and, and, and how you’re gonna, you know, find a way to make that a commercially viable product. Yeah. So, but the BPOs, it is core to their business to be experts at that/
Scott Kinka (10:46):
So, who are the customers from an appeal? I mean, the reality of it, you know, cause I think about contact centers or I think about customer experience centers. Yeah. I think about, you know, some companies have them, and some companies are them. Right? Sure. Or at least like, you know, if you’re in online sales, you, you honestly, you are a customer experience as opposed to, to your point, if you’re in, you know, accounting or finance or what have you. Yeah. You might have a customer service arm or group, but it’s not intrinsic to what you do. I mean, when you talk about outsourcing to people who do this for a living, it’s, is it it’s not commonly outsourcing the entire function so much as it is amending skillset and talent and specialization Yeah. Into, am I, am I reading that right?
David McAbee (11:29):
Sort of. I mean, so, so there’s certainly, there’s certainly a, a formula for deciding what types of interactions you, you send to an outsourcer as opposed to handling internally. But just to, just to unwind that, cuz I, I think I probably didn’t give you the definition you were looking for. Sure. Yeah. <Laugh>. So, so a business process, the outsourcer is a company that takes any, any process that a company and it could be back-office mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, it could be accounts receivable, it, it could be collections, it could, it could be, you know, sales, customer service, many, many things that aren’t necessarily customer facing. Yeah. Right. It can be a form of moderation. Yeah. For, for your, for your for, okay. Right. Yeah. It could be training in ai. Right. You think about every Tesla that’s driving down the road right now is has cameras mapping the world, but they’re also identifying objects as, as they drive, the Tesla needs to know the difference between a telephone pole and a tree.
Hopefully, it knows what a child is. Yeah. Right. And all those things. And every now and again, it sees an object that doesn’t understand. Yeah. And that picture goes somewhere for a human being to analyze it and label that. And it’s training the ai Well, that’s a BPO somewhere. Yeah. That’s doing that work. Got it. And that’s true of any of those types of processes. Right. Okay. We outsource our taxes every year as a company, I’m sure. And certainly, yeah. As an individual, I outsource my taxes. Yeah. So there are just things that companies it makes more sense for them to have another firm do it cuz they’re experts at it.
Scott Kinka (12:58):
Got it. Right. Got it. Commonly agents, though,
David McAbee (13:03):
Scott Kinka (13:03):
Or less so these days?
David McAbee (13:05):
No. I mean, it’s absolutely, I think the money maker for them is still agents in seats taking customer service kinds of calls.
Scott Kinka (13:11):
David McAbee (13:12):
And companies that when they dip their toe into outsourcing, will start with what they consider to be low-skill.
Scott Kinka (13:19):
David McAbee (13:20):
High-volume calls. And generally, what you find in contact centers is those high volumes, low skill, redundant kinds of calls or the kinds of calls that the agents don’t like to take. So they’re happy to amend, they’re happy the agent, they have a lot of attrition in those roles, and they generally don’t score very high from a CSAT or Yeah. For those types of interactions. So that’s usually the first indication that could go to an outsourcer; it could probably save you some money and deliver a better result.
Scott Kinka (13:48):
Got it. Right. Yeah. So it’s not just a cost-cutting measure. Right. But let me ask you the question, you know, is why all of a sudden is sort of the BPO acronym pushed back into the forefront of a lot of our conversations? Is it because of the economy? Is it because of kind of the changing roles of this technology? I mean, I’m sure the answer is a little bit of everything, but Yeah. Sort of what’s driving the conversation to the forefront again.
David McAbee (14:10):
Well, I love the fact that BPOs are evolving and the leaders in this space, right? So there’s a Gartner Quadrant for the BPOs, just like there is for everything else. And there’s a handful is about 12 or 15 or so that kind of sit up there. And the leaders in this space are exactly what I described earlier. They are customer experience as a service kind of providers. Yeah. They bring technology. They don’t always use their own technology. A lot of customers still want to keep that, but they bring technology, they bring expertise, they bring consulting, and they, and of course, they provide agents, and they have all these practices that make their operations just a little more efficient than you could do generally speaking. Okay. In your own corporate environment. So, but, but now, of course, the economy is driving a lot of, because what’s happening today is, you know, sort of a, a perfect storm of things happening right. There is, there’s the, the, the economy has pulled back. There is some unemployment, but there are still all of these available jobs that are very difficult to fill mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, it’s just very hard to
Scott Kinka (15:10):
Staff. Yeah. Contact
David McAbee (15:12):
Center jobs, people don’t seem to want those jobs, you know, in the United States.
Scott Kinka (15:15):
Got it. For the most
David McAbee (15:16):
Part, especially the lower-skilled ones. I think what we’re seeing is we’re seeing a transformation where we’re, we’re gonna move away from these call center agents to be more highly skilled specialists. Because between BPO and ai, they’re not gonna need to take the routine kinds of
Scott Kinka (15:35):
Calls Yeah. Anymore.
David McAbee (15:37):
And that’ll be better for everybody because the humans sitting in those call centers will have more fulfilling jobs, higher pay Yeah. Rates. and it’ll be better for the BPOs cuz they’ll pick up all that traffic, the things that they’re really good at. Yeah. But anyway, so companies are, they’ve got all these economic pressure, but the phone isn’t ringing less than it was
The Evolutions of the Business Process Outsourcing Model
Scott Kinka (15:56):
Before. Completely. Right. And in fact, it’s to get past maybe the economic pressures they needed to ring more Right. In a lot of ways. Right. So if it’s, and you know, you mentioned earlier, it’s not necessarily a cost savings thing often, but we did tie it to the economy. So, what is it is just having the flexibility to be able to scale up, scale down, like, you know, how do commitments work in these kinds of scenarios?
David McAbee (16:20):
Yeah, so the commitments are a big part of it. You know, BPOs, by and large, are measured upon their, you know, by their performance against your service levels, your SLAs. Okay. So you will establish in an agreement with a BPO what your typical service levels are. And there may be requirements around customer satisfaction scores. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> certainly handle time, first contact resolution, a number of different typical KPIs Yeah. In a contact center. And these contracts generally have teeth in them, so if the BPO fails to perform routinely, mm-hmm. <Affirmative> In a given area, the company has a lot of flexibility. Yeah. They can simply reduce the amount of volume going to that BPO, or they can pull it back completely.
Scott Kinka (17:01):
Got it. Got it. So it’s, it’s usage-based mm-hmm.
David McAbee (17:04):
Scott Kinka (17:05):
In that regard. Right. And are these agents oftentimes dedicated to a particular customer or Yeah, they, I, I keep going back to agents, and I know that you’ve broadened the, and that’s okay. But let’s just say the human right. Are they typically dedicated to a function, or are they oftentimes sharing across, you know, a handful of customers?
David McAbee (17:21):
The sharing you see a little less of that these days. Okay. mostly because, you know, we’re, we’re now moving to this age where these BPOs truly are CX experts, and they do a very good job of the, of those agents becoming part of the company’s culture, if that makes sense. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, so if you walk a modern contact center of a BPO, you will find that even if, you know, you may have a floor of 300 agents or something, pockets of agents supporting different accounts, but in that area where they’re working, they will have all the banners for that company. Yeah. They’ll be wearing company shirts, they’ll, they’ll attend all the all-hands meetings. They will mm-hmm. <Affirmative> companies, if they’re smart, will try to really make them part of their culture. And so so because of that, it’s very hard to have that be a shared resource.
Scott Kinka (18:05):
David McAbee (18:06):
You know, amongst lots of different accounts.
Scott Kinka (18:08):
But you know, the win there, I mean, we talked about, hey, there’s a lot of technology here. Hey, it’s hard to be good at everything. Right. Hey, it’s, you know, we talked about flexibility quite a little bit. Let’s hone down on that one a little bit because I think, you know, you’ve al we’ve already established companies don’t go, Hey, you know, we’ve got, I’ll pick a round number, 500 people in our contact center, let’s send 500 people out outside to A B P O. Right? Right. I mean, they’re picking a business function. Maybe it’s a, a la an alternative language queue mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, maybe it’s an overnight, you know? Right. Those all fall inside the flexibility outside of just the fiscal
David McAbee (18:42):
Flexibility. So Right. So you certainly have hours of operation and types of issues. Okay. So you need to follow the sun or 24×7 support. Okay. That overnight shift is notoriously difficult to staff. Yeah. you also have seasonal volumes, you know, they’re in the health insurance space, and you have an open enrollment period. Yeah. Right. And so they need to staff up three x, four X for that period and then, and then pull back to their normal staffing levels. Got it. If you are if you’re a retailer of, of flower arrangements, you’ve got two really busy times of the year. Right. Yeah. <Laugh>, you can probably guess what those are. Right. And you go from 200 agents to 2000 agents Yeah. Almost
Scott Kinka (19:21):
David McAbee (19:21):
But for a very temporary period of time. Yeah. And so companies, you know, laying off agents doesn’t look good. It’s not a good look. And, you make the news when you have to lay off.
Scott Kinka (19:31):
Well, what I was gonna say, I could imagine as a publicly traded business, as an example, maybe just a matter of practice of having a portion of them in b p if only to say when we have to scale back, that’s not Right. Noteworthy from a news
David McAbee (19:45):
Perspective. That’s right. That’s
Scott Kinka (19:46):
Right. Doesn’t qualifies a layer.
David McAbee (19:47):
And a lot of companies learned that lesson during the pandemic, by the way.
Scott Kinka (19:50):
Yeah. So they stayed staffed down and didn’t staff back up FTE e Right. Right. Full-time so that they could maintain.
David McAbee (19:57):
Yeah. Because you, you, you sort of, you know, there’s this maturity spectrum that happens when companies, when companies sort of start to adopt an outsourcing model and typically they start with, you know, we’ll, we’ll try something relatively low risk mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, and then as that works, they will expand that, and they may expand it to more than one BPO, and then we’ll, they’ll do something we call a champion challenger model, where you may have your incumbent vendor who you prefer, but you want to have a challenger as well. Because one, it creates a nice friendly competition between the two BPOs. You measure their performance month in, month out. Okay. That challenger BPO, that sort of that B player gets the opportunity to earn more volume, which can be very significant from a revenue perspective Yeah. For them, if they outperform, got from a, from a, a KPI perspective, yeah. Every
Scott Kinka (20:49):
David McAbee (20:50):
So that would be the next level for the maturity model.
Scott Kinka (20:53):
Yeah. I mean, there’s a lot there. So, we could probably spend the next 20 minutes unpacking that one. Oh yeah. Let’s not go all the way there right now, <laugh>, but I think it does. Let’s bring that back, though. So you know, that’s complicated to do. So I think, you know, if you, if a listener here, were thinking to themselves, okay, I get the financial flex flexibility, I get the specialist skillset, I get, okay. You know, I, I’m willing to try them, I want to try this jacket on, you know, let me see. You know, it’s not that easy. So just, I mean, as you said earlier, you hate to define something by saying what it’s not. But I do think, you know, we’re selling on the concept here a little bit. Let’s recognize a little bit of the complexity. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know what I, if somebody does BPO themselves and they do it poorly, you know, what does that, what are the things that usually break? Where are the eggs getting broken?
Navigating Challenges and Maximizing Success in BPO Projects
David McAbee (21:45):
So, generally speaking, it’s just inefficient, and it costs them more than it should. And they get poor performance. And that’s because there are, I don’t know the number, there are thousands probably mm-hmm. <Affirmative> of outsourcers out there. And I can’t imagine trying to go to market by just doing a Google search for BPO. Yeah. Because you’d find the top few right away at the very top of, your hit. But you probably wouldn’t find the one right for you right away. BPOs come in all shapes and sizes. Right. There are the very, very large ones that have 300, 400,000 agents globally. Yeah. And they’re, they’re very mature practices, but they’re not, they’re not really interested in working down market Yeah. In, in small 2030 seat kinds of opportunities. There are boutique, very good BPOs that have two 3000 seats and have a global presence and a 30 C contact center.
A 50 C contact center is significant to them. And you would be a significant customer to them if that were the size of your operation. Yeah. But, I don’t know how you find that if you were to go it a loan. So, you know, not even the worst case scenario, but then, a very common scenario would be you go with the wrong BPO, that’s just not the right match for you, and you don’t get the care and feeding that you want. Yeah. And you, and by the way, you don’t know what to expect from them from a reporting perspective Yeah. From SLAs, all those things. If there’s a whole vendor management component that we do very well at Bridgepointe CX, by the way. Yeah. And we teach our customers this; by the way, one of our practices in our BPO practice is to teach them how to manage that type of
Scott Kinka (23:19):
Relationship. Got it. And then there’s also all of the thinking around, you know when people are in your four walls, it’s very, you know, you kind of, you, you learn by tribal knowledge Yeah. When they’re not, there’s gotta be a strategy around that. That’s right. What I mean is there, you know, talk a little bit about some of the challenges for sort of the first BPO project that businesses face. You know, having not really dealt with it before.
David McAbee (23:44):
I, I think that what you get is you have a very difficult time doing that knowledge transfer Okay. This is how we operate our business because, as you said, it’s tribal knowledge. A lot of the practices they have in place to operate day to day were things that evolved over time by trial and error. Yeah. They’re not necessarily based on best practices. It doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Because most best practices were all trial and error at some point. Sure. And you, you’ve figured out the right way by making lots of mistakes. Yeah. Along the way, just making mistakes in this world is, is expensive. Yeah. You don’t want to make ’em if you don’t have to. And the sad part is you don’t have to make these mistakes cuz there are experts out there to help you. But, what it looks like is a prolonged period of trying to figure out how to communicate our operations to the BPO. So if you think about in a contact center, you’ve got the technology, you’ve got all your call queues, and all your things sort of mapped out. Yeah. You have your agents and their different queues, skill groups, the teams they’re on, how you coach them, how you develop them how you score their performance. And you may have never documented any of that
Scott Kinka (24:42):
David McAbee (24:43):
Right. Or, or
Scott Kinka (24:44):
Or, sort of casually, they learned over the shoulder. Right. Right. Yeah.
David McAbee (24:47):
So now how do I give you that as a BPO and say, here, here’s our operation, we want you to do it this way. So, it seems to me that that would be one of the pitfalls, right? Yeah. Of, of trying to go it alone.
Scott Kinka (25:01):
Got it. To
David McAbee (25:02):
Figure that stuff
Scott Kinka (25:03):
Out and your recommendation in those cases is to work with a consultant. Absolutely. Help
David McAbee (25:06):
Scott Kinka (25:06):
Yeah. Do it. Right.
David McAbee (25:08):
Right. Well, because anytime we consult or or a good consultancy consult, the first thing we do is teach you how to document all your processes.
Scott Kinka (25:14):
David McAbee (25:14):
Let’s document everything you’ve got, and if we find things that are glaringly wrong sure. Let’s fix those. Yeah. But now not only do you have an asset that you can continue to use and iterate on, but it makes a very simple process to take it to not only that b p but you have a lot of flexibility cuz if that B P O for some reason, you know, decides that they’re moving outta that market, they don’t wanna work on that vertical
Scott Kinka (25:34):
David McAbee (25:34):
Right. Then it’s very easy for you to transport that to somebody else.
Scott Kinka (25:38):
When we have similar conversations with customers who, you know, are thinking the magic AI bot’s gonna start answering their calls for them. Right. You know, and the next conversation is, well, where’s your knowledge management? And they’re like, well, what’s knowledge management? I’m like, well, there are no bots <laugh> in your future until we get that documented. Yeah. So I mean, I mean, in some ways. Mean AI needs something to learn off of, you know, documenting the process to go to BPO is maybe in some ways a, a stair step into having documented processes and moving on from tribal knowledge to be able to maybe over time inform AI or inform bots or something like
David McAbee (26:13):
That. The side effect is that you improve all of these processes internally. Right? Yeah. Hundred percent. You really can’t iterate and improve without documenting where you are.
Exploring Outsourcing Options
Scott Kinka (26:21):
Yeah. So super interesting. I mean there, there’s been a lot in all of this you know, just words of wisdom for somebody who’s been here. I mean, if you’ve got a customer, you know, we’re talking to IT leaders out there, we’re talking to contact center leaders, and they’re thinking to themselves, okay, what Dave shared was interesting to me, I was already considering it. You know where to start. What, what should they really be thinking about to get to before they engage a consultant like Bridgepointe CX or someone else?
David McAbee (26:52):
Well, well, I think that they just have to understand what their pressures are first of all. Right. Okay. Are, you know, are they being asked to do more with less mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. Right. Do they find that they routinely perform poorly mm-hmm? <Affirmative> Across certain types of, we call them interaction types because we don’t just handle calls anymore. Right? Yeah. It’s not, it’s not a call center. So when I say interactions, I’m referring to everything from chat, social media, SMS, a hundred percent, email, and all those things. So what are the interaction types that you generally do poorly with? Yeah. Right. And start to evaluate that. But I, I don’t think there’s any; it’s ever premature to engage a consultant. I Yeah. Because it’s a, it’s a very low-risk conversation to simply say, listen, I’m not sure about this world. Educate me a little bit.
Scott Kinka (27:35):
David McAbee (27:35):
And ask me a few questions, and let’s figure out if there’s something that we’re doing that could be improved on. Because remember, you know, as I said at the outset, it’s not just contact center agents sitting in seats. While that is, what we commonly think of, there are a number of things. We’re helping one company right now that has a software as a service product, and they’re really struggling to staff for implementation managers and client success people. We’re gonna take that to an outsourcer, we’re gonna help them with that. Got it. And that is not, they’re now when you do that, it’s not an agent in a call center. I’m not gonna measure them by the same KPIs. So how do I measure their performance? And, and, but that’s okay. Cause the BPOs understand that. Right. They know that we’re measuring them differently, and they were completely prepared to have that conversation.
Scott Kinka (28:21):
Well, in a lot of ways, they’re in the business of metrics management. Right. So they can not only, you know, be governed, if you will, by the metrics in that other role, you know, that they’re trying to move into a BPO but frankly lean on the BPO to help ’em determine what the metrics are in some ways on how to measure them.
David McAbee (28:40):
And, and, and think of it like this, dude, this is funny. Kik, if I were to take a subset of my agents and move into a BPO and I’m keeping agents in houses, well, I’m already in a champion challenger model. Right.
Scott Kinka (28:51):
Completely. Right. Because outsourcers are the challenger, right? Outta the shoe. Right. And, and it’s, can we do better overseas or offshore or nearshore or whatever happens to be. Right. Okay. And
David McAbee (29:01):
It’s a great litmus test to see how we are performing internally Yeah. Compared to how, you know, an expert would do it.
Scott Kinka (29:08):
Fantastic. Before we close, I wanna ask one question then I probably should have asked before that. I’m gonna go back and do it cuz it sort of came up; it came outta my mouth accidentally. We were talking about the champion challenger model, Uhhuh <affirmative>. I think people tend to think that this automatically means shipping to the Philippines. Oh yeah. Shipping to, let’s just talk about that for one minute. I mean, yeah. That’s not the only way to do this.
David McAbee (29:28):
No, and I’m so glad you said that because, you know, that’s the thing I wanted to say at the outset. Yeah. When I said, they’re the myths. Yeah. Right around BPO is that it’s not offshoring at all. You know, there are three ways to do it. There’s offshore, there’s nearshore, and frankly, there’s lots more than
Scott Kinka (29:43):
David McAbee (29:43):
Onshore. But you know, you can, you can onshore outsource Yeah. With a company that can provide a brick-and-mortar type of, or they can do work-at-home agents. There are lots of BPOs now that’re doing work at home, sort of gig economy, Uber-style services, and their performance is unbelievable. Yeah. And what’s interesting is even with onshore, where the rates are quite a bit higher, right. Because you’re paying, you know, a domestic employee in the United States, a US citizen, you will still see savings, and you might see the savings and nothing more than just operational efficiency. Yeah. You know, the, the typical contact center runs, you know, their, their agent utilization rate, which is the, the percentage of the time that the agent when they’re clocked in are actually in productive work. Yeah. Right? Yeah.
Their agent utilization rate is, I’m scared to say, remember because, you know, it changes all the time. Let’s say it’s 60, 65% mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, right? That’s a pretty decent agent utilization rate for sort of a captive in-house contact center. Yeah. BPOs will routinely run 75%. And so even if, because of the, they, they’ve got established long, you know, long-standing workforce management practices, yeah. And all these other best practices. So even at the same rates, I can just do the work with a few less people. Yeah. So I will automatically save you money just in that
Scott Kinka (31:00):
Way. Got it. Makes perfect sense.
David McAbee (31:02):
But, anyway, so that’s onshore, and then nearshore would be your sort of offshore, but within US time zones Yeah. And you get great us, you know, you great US cultural alignment as well as great English. Yeah. Very, very motivated people who for them, these are great jobs. Yeah. And then offshore is, you know, you said the Philippines, that’s a very common one. Yeah.
Scott Kinka (31:20):
Where it’s, where, where this is a great job to
David McAbee (31:22):
Be clear. Phenomenal.
Scott Kinka (31:23):
Yeah. And that ultimately leads to, you know, happy agents, great happy customers. Right. In a lot of ways. Right. And a lot less if you do
David McAbee (31:30):
It right, a lot less attrition in those places because it is That’s a good point. A good job point.
The Uprising of the AI Super Agent
Scott Kinka (31:34):
Yeah. Point. Okay. Makes sense. So there was a lot there. We don’t wanna inundate our listeners beyond that, but I do wanna help you with a couple of fun questions because let’s do it. We do it every time. These don’t need to be, you know, anything dramatic, but I always ask for a shameless prediction, 18 and 24 months. It doesn’t need to be in tech or the topic we were talking about here. It could be about sports or entertainment or, you know, political, but it could also be about the industry that we just talked about. Whatever you feel is
David McAbee (32:00):
I’ll stick with the industry only cuz I, everything else I say, would just be too controversial. So whatever <laugh>, that’s that guy. Yeah. Yeah.
Scott Kinka (32:06):
So it’s Gene behind the camera out
David McAbee (32:08):
Scott Kinka (32:08):
So that’s why I don’t ask him that question.
David McAbee (32:09):
That’s why he and I get along sooner. Yeah,
Scott Kinka (32:10):
Right. I got you.
David McAbee (32:12):
So I think, I think what you’re going to see is you’re going to see in the next 18 months, a true adoption of a scenario where you have an AI-enabled super agent.
Scott Kinka (32:28):
David McAbee (32:28):
Okay. So you’re going to call into a contact center 18 months from now, and you’re gonna have an agent that knows you, knows exactly why you’re calling, and has your answer right away. It’s gonna be shocking how good the experience is and how fast it is. And, and, and it will be very natural and human Yeah. Because you’re talking to a human. But what you don’t know is there’s AI listening that is finding the right answer, serving up the right information in a very digestible, usable way for the agent. Yeah. So we’re right on the cusp of that. Now. There are lots of technologies that tr attempt to do it now. Very few have fully adopted it and embraced it. Yeah. But it’s, it’s mainstreaming very quickly.
Scott Kinka (33:08):
Fantastic. Okay. I got that. All right. Now, now, now for the fun. Okay. All right. That wasn’t the fun, fun one. No, that wasn’t the fun <laugh>. Well, you could have gone fun with it if you chose to go political or sports or something along those lines. The answer sounded a lot better than when you initially started the statement. Cause it felt like you were going Robocop level. You were like age AI-powered agents were like ready for all <laugh>. But let’s assume that happens. All right. So the, you know, I used to say zombie apocalypse or the next pandemic, but in this case, we’ll say the robots take over, you know, dystopian future. You’ve got one app functioning on your phone at that point. What’s the one app that works? What’s indispensable at that moment? And make sure you’re answering it in some way based on the fact that we are in a dystopian future at that point. So it’s gotta be, you know, well thought out.
David McAbee (33:52):
Yeah. And I don’t, my phone doesn’t have an e m P app. Right? So I can’t just zap all the, all the robots. If it
Scott Kinka (33:58):
Were it would be wise, that would be great. Yeah.
David McAbee (34:01):
Wow. One app it, would have to be they find my app, so I would know where my kids are and where my wife is. You know what?
Scott Kinka (34:10):
That’s a really good answer. Stick an air tag on the kids,
David McAbee (34:12):
Right? Yeah. And the dogs. Why
Scott Kinka (34:13):
Not? Right? <laugh>? Yeah. Right around here.
David McAbee (34:16):
Scott Kinka (34:16):
Why haven’t they done that yet? Or maybe they do dog collars with a little spot for the put the to put the air tag in it. That was, that’s genius. Yeah. You might have just invented something. All right. Last but not least you know, just tell us something, you know, what, what, what’s on your, what’s on your end table right now at reading? You know, or maybe it’s your reader. Like what’s, do you have something that, again, doesn’t need to be necessarily business focused, but, you know, people hung this long here in here in talk, so maybe they want to know what you’re reading.
David McAbee (34:43):
Man, I’m gonna sound so nerdy for saying this. I am trying to slog my way through The Brothers Karamazov right now.
Scott Kinka (34:51):
David McAbee (34:52):
It’s that thick. And I keep hearing what a good book it is, and I’m hoping it gets good.
Scott Kinka (35:00):
<Laugh> How many pages into this?
David McAbee (35:02):
About this far into this much. Okay. It is very interesting. You know, it’s interesting to delve into the Russian mind and, and, you know, cause I was a big Crime and Punishment fan. Yeah. I like literature. I like, okay, I like books. That challenge might be He’s such
Scott Kinka (35:15):
Your Renaissance man. Look at you.
David McAbee (35:16):
I don’t, I don’t think that’s true, but <laugh> <laugh> so that’s what’s on my nightstand, and it’s very slow. I’m the guy that has six books stacked up cuz my a d ADHD kicks in. I’m like, okay, I’m gonna put that one down and pick that one up for a
Scott Kinka (35:28):
While. Oh, okay. Yeah. Got it. Are you, like, you try to nail bang a chapter out before you
David McAbee (35:34):
Usually. That’s, that’s what I need. If I can’t fall asleep, I’ll bang out of something, and it’ll go from that to a biography or
Scott Kinka (35:39):
Something like that. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I have to break the habit of looking at my phone until I go to sleep. That’s the thing I’m trying, it’s such a bad habit. It is a terrible habit.
David McAbee (35:46):
Yeah. And I do the same thing. I do the same thing, and then you don’t sleep for hours.
Scott Kinka (35:49):
It’s terrible. Yeah. It’s indeed, indeed. Well, this was a lot of fun. I’m glad we did this. We got shuffled around multiple rooms. We finally made it happen in musical rooms. The good news is there are enough rooms in a hotel of this size for us to figure it out. And we did. So I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to do this. We’ve been talking about this for a little while. Yeah. again, Dave McAfee, who is our vice president of EN Enterprise Solutions for Bridgepointe CX, he and all of our teams in Bridgepointe CX are here to help you have these conversations. And we’re looking forward not only to helping you with those conversations but having you listen to us again on another episode of The Bridge. Thanks so much for your time.