Not many businesses are really passionate about their processes. Most companies will have a product or service that is their passion and, they hope, the passion of their staff as well. But behind all that, there will be a set of tasks that just need to get done to ensure the smooth operation that enables that product to be made or that service delivered. This has, perhaps, driven the growth of business process outsourcing (BPO) in the UK and elsewhere. While many businesses are passionate about their core product, for BPO providers, the core product are the processes that other businesses require.
In fact, outsourcing is commonplace and second nature to many businesses. Unless they are working with raw materials, they are likely outsourcing parts of their business. However, when it comes to BPO in the UK, there has tended to be some reticence. Some of this may be down to inertia; some of those functions that are outsourced may just seem to be too integral to a company. Others may have had their fingers burned by previous experiences when the outsourcing provider was not at the required standard.
Indeed, many businesses have made the mistake of outsourcing based on price without considering quality. “Failures happen all the time,” says Ralf Ellspermann, who has worked in the BPO industry for over twenty years, “and invariably they are because the client didn’t get their requirements quite right and got carried away by a provider with a low price that proved unrealistic.” Some of this might have been down to inexperience. Certainly in the early days of outsourcing, there were few reliable benchmarks for the expected savings. Today, however, it’s reasonable to expect that a good outsourcing partner in the UK can maintain quality while delivering savings of 10 to 15% for the client.
And the customer experience is crucial to successful outsourcing. Luckily, BPO providers in the UK are well-placed to provide high quality. Providers bring a range of benefits, many a result of their size. While an individual business may only need a few seats, perhaps as few as ten or twenty, specialist providers will have multiple clients and operate facilities with hundreds of agents. This means that they don’t just offer savings because of their scale — their overhead costs are spread between clients—but they can offer significantly better services.
A large outsourcing provider in the UK will be in a position to invest in their service; indeed, they have to invest because it’s their business. They will ensure they have the best possible infrastructure to manage the complexity and volume of modern business processing, whether that’s customer service, information management, or routine support processes. And because of their size, they will be able to invest in their staff, not just in training and development, but also with other opportunities for career progression that encourage staff retention, keeping their skills and knowledge within the organisation.
The result for a business is that they can expect to see their customer satisfaction and net promoter scores improve: Customers will have a better experience, which they will reward with customer loyalty. The client firms will additionally benefit because they will be able to focus on their core product, rather than having leadership capacity absorbed by ancillary business processing functions. Ultimately, they will see the impact of this on the bottom line—not just through the cost-saving in outsourcing, but also in the improved revenue that will result from more satisfied customers promoting them.
“Successful outsourcing starts with the contract,” says Ellspermann, whose Manila-based PITON-Global successfully manages various business processes for UK businesses. “When you get it right, and you have customer success at the heart of it, you will see the benefits almost immediately. If you don’t put the customer experience in the centre of everything you do, your revenue losses will soon outstrip the savings.” Many businesses have discovered this the hard way, but with savings of 15% possible with domestic providers, and up to 50% in BPO centres like the Philippines, there’s no reason businesses can’t have healthy savings and better customer experiences.