Multilingual BPO | Changing rationale for call centre outsourcing
I was amused this week when I flicked through a recently published ‘white paper’ on the rationale for call centre outsourcing. It only amused me because I recognised the slide from over 20 years ago. It made me think about how much our industry has changed over the last two decades. These changes and differences are important for anybody thinking of evaluating a call centre outsourcing initiative. The five rationales given for call centre outsourcing circa 1992 reads:
- Cost reduction
- Focus on core business
- Process improvement
- Competitive advantage
With the hindsight of 20 years, cost reduction now appears a very short term and tactical idea. Twenty years ago cost reduction was a simple equation of the outsourcers unit cost needs to be lower than the clients’ unit cost. Modern strategic outsourcing in the 21st century concentrates on delivering cost efficient solutions. Nowadays, in the world of multilingual BPO, cost efficiency is about ensuring that the commercial value of the outputs of call centre outsourcing deliver the correct and appropriate Return on Investment.
Focus on core business
This has changed so utterly that it is no longer a pertinent language within call centre outsourcing. The old adage was that the client will focus on its core competence and outsource those areas that were not a core competence. That may work when deciding what security guard you have on the front gate but it doesn’t wash when you think about how any call centre function is going to look after your customers. Effective call centre outsourcing is only achieved when the outsourced service is fully integrated and embedded within the clients’ organisation.
The need to be able to adapt to market and competitor changes has intensified incredibly over the last decade. The best call centre outsourcing providers maintain a flexible relationship with employees, associates, experts, contractors and supply chain partners that they can quickly deploy to address a clients’ business need. This offers their clients the ability to ramp-up or down quickly in response to changing needs, and the opportunity, for example, to launch or test a new product or marketing programme faster with a lower up-front spend than an in-house solution.
Again I think this is an example of how much things have changed and where this rationale for call centre outsourcing doesn’t fully stand the test of time. 20 years ago outsourcing did enable companies to re-engineer their business. In the modern organisation, however, process re-engineering is a constant and enterprise wide modus operandi. Companies no longer really outsource to simply achieve or test process change.
Contrary to popular belief, strategic outsourcing gives managers more (not less) control over their business operations and enhances their level of real time market intelligence/customer insight. This is evident where the call centre outsourcing partner is willing to become part of the clients’ business ecosystem and to focus the attention of their people on the clients’ business objectives. This type of call centre outsourcing company does not take advantage of "change control" opportunities, but instead focuses on building a long-term win-win partnership. This shift in emphasis has also placed greater focus on the call centre outsourcing partner’s competence in risk management.
Multilingual BPO goes wrong when you outsource for a non-strategic or poorly thought out rationale. It’s always useful to remember that the rationale for call centre outsourcing will be unique for every company.
Contact us to find out more about how we can help with your call centre outsourcing project.
Authored by John Drury, Sales Director at INTERACTION of Europe.