Latest News  

TELUS International Europe: Four questions start-ups should ask when considering contact center outsourcing

Success can happen fast in the tech world. Six years ago, Snapchat was just a young start-up that made a time-sensitive messaging platform. Now it's valued at $20 billion

2017-04-10 23:31:34





Grégoire Vigroux
Vice-President Marketing of TELUS International Europe


Of course, not every tech start-up has that degree of success; just 1.28 percent of tech companies go on to become "unicorns", the nickname for start-up companies that are valued at over $1 billion. A lot of companies struggle to acquire and retain customers, while trimming excess spending and keeping their start-up "lean".

A truly landmark moment in the evolution of any company moving from bright idea to profitable business is when its customer service needs to reach a critical scale. That's when the customer support team may need some support of their own. Management must consider how to optimize the company's customer service offering, and for those seeking help from an experienced partner, choosing to outsource can influence that process in a big way.

However, the decision is not an easy one to make, and there are some key questions to address before making the final call.

"Can customer support be kept in-house?"


It's not uncommon for start-ups (yes, even unicorns) to keep customer support in-house during the initial growth period. And it's understandable, given some of the benefits. Keeping customer support in-house can keep costs down when the volume of customer inquiries is still manageable. It can provide an opportunity to develop an end-to-end customer brand experience that truly represents the company's philosophy. It can also create a more intimate relationship with early customers, thereby cultivating both loyalty and crucial feedback.

But a time can come where company growth — and the inbound customer inquiries that come with it — can potentially dilute those benefits. Martin Zwilling, founder of the consulting service Startup Professionals, says that typically happens at one crucial moment: "When they experience explosive growth, and can't handle the growth or costs internally."

Arriving at the right answer requires a company to look closely at the demand it's experiencing, and establishing a logistical and financial turning point when it makes sense to adopt outsourcing.

Take Breather, a start-up that rents temporary work spaces in major international cities that has raised $69 million since its founding in late 2012. Breather currently maintains in-house customer support. For Kurt Wilson, the company's director of customer service and inside sales, there's a fixed future point when outsourcing will make sense to the company. "In the long run, I think the question for us with outsourcing will simply come down to, ‘Do we need enough agents to require outsourcing?'" he says.

However, Wilson says it's not just about meeting a demand, but also about profit margins. Once it reaches a certain scale — and a level of profitability that comes with it — outsourcing could help further improve the company's cost structure.

"What value is needed from an outsource partner?"


The financial value of outsourcing customer support shouldn't be underestimated, but there are other benefits companies may seek out. "People are looking at quality and outcomes and specific expertise, much more than they are looking at cost," says Vadim Gouterman, a partner at multinational strategy-consulting firm the Boston Consulting Group in Toronto.

Among tech companies, those kinds of needs can vary. Some companies may want to consider outsourcing to a strategic partner to get help shaping a proper end-to-end customer experience — particularly if rapid growth has limited a start-up's time and ability to do so on its own. Gouterman says some companies see value in very specialized help, such as technical expertise for mobile-app support.

Complexity is a definite factor in whether to outsource a given function, says John Goodman, vice-chair at Customer Care Measurement & Consulting (CCMC) and author of Customer Experience 3.0. For example, Goodman says some auto manufacturers have split their customer service offerings depending on the nature of the inquiry. "The real simple stuff could easily be outsourced," Goodman says. For example, companies could outsource what are sometimes called "tier-one interactions" — basic questions like "Why hasn't my order been shipped yet?" or "What oil does my car need?"

This frees up the company's internal resources to respond directly to more complex inquiries. "What you do is you keep the tier-two stuff like warranty complaints in-house," at least to start, says Goodman.

A blended in-house/outsource model could be a good stepping stone for a company that is uncertain about exactly what to outsource, particularly one that has functioning customer support already in place but fast-growing inbound call volume.

Another consideration to weigh carefully is who a company is targeting as its ideal customer base. For example, a company looking to service Millennials may need to up its ante on an omnichannel offering to meet its customers online, delivering support by chat, email, messaging and social media. Developing the systems and technology in-house to deliver this kind of support can be resource-intensive, and may be better in the hands of an outsourcing partner.

In the end, it's up to each company to not only evaluate what its customer support needs are, but also be brutally honest with itself about its abilities to meet those needs.

"How important is crisis preparation?"


No aspiring tech company wants to think negatively, but unexpected crises can happen, often leaving start-ups flooded with inquiries they're not equipped to manage. "Those things can happen to anybody," says Gouterman of the Boston Consulting Group.

Just look at Volkswagen and its diesel-emissions controversy. After an incident like that, customers calling in with questions and complaints would be enough to stretch a contact center to its limit. Eventually, Volkswagen offered its customers buyback options, requiring registration forms and processes that weighed heavily on their contact center.

Crisis situations are why Gouterman says some companies consider it worthwhile to invest in an outsourcing partner who can help face the best and worst of times. "People will be willing to pay more not just to scale normally as they grow, but scale in reaction to crisis," he says. A crisis naturally need not be something as drastic as Volkswagen's: It could be something as simple as a service outage.

Regardless, start-ups should consider some of their more likely crisis scenarios, along with the probability of occurrence, and then factor them into their outsourcing decision.

"Is the company culture established well enough to outsource it?"


Outsourcing isn't just passing on customer support. It's also about passing on a piece of the company's identity and culture, and how both should be reflected in the customer experience.

When a company grows quickly, defining its identity and culture can sometimes take a back seat to getting the product out the door. But it's absolutely critical for companies to work with potential outsourcing partners to establish and maintain what makes the company, its brand and its culture great. That means lots of executive level communication. "Outsourcing is as good as what you put into it," Breather's Wilson says. "Your outsourced call centers will only be as successful as your level of engagement with them, and also leadership of that team."

Indeed, companies need to be prepared to dedicate time to collaborate, as well as work fastidiously on investing in staff training, issuing clear directions, developing KPIs and more. Start-ups shouldn't expect outsourcing to free them of responsibility. "There's a certain level of maturity you have to have to be able to hand your business over, because when you hand it over, you create a partnership," Wilson says. "If you don't invest the time in that, you lose control of your tone and the voice that you want to convey."

The road ahead


Outsourcing can affect more than a brand image; it can impact the very growth a fast-growing tech company is trying to generate and respond to. While growth may come quickly, the potential decision to outsource shouldn't. Properly weighing the decision can make the difference between seizing growing momentum or stunting it.

"Keep up-to-date with the latest thinking about BPO, ITO and Contact Center solutions. Each month, TELUS International, a global provider of contact center outsourcing and BPO solutions, shares insights on the latest customer service trends."

Related articles: www.telusinternational-europe.com /
www.telusinternational.com


0 COMMENTS ^ Go back to Top
WRITE A COMMENT ^ Go back to Top
 
Your email address will not be published.
Nickname
Email
Comment
Validation Code
   
 
 
NEWS
EY announces new global talent programs to prepare its people and its business for the future of work

EY recently announces a series of new global talent programs designed to prepare its workforce and its business for the future of work, including LEAD, a new global model for career, development and performance

 Read Full article »
Societe Generale European Business Services invests in innovative solutions made by Romanian start-ups

Societe Generale European Business Services, part of the international group Societe Generale, had ended its first corporate accelerator program dedicated to start-ups in Romania – Catalyst 2.0.

 Read Full article »
SAP launches free online courses for teens passionate about technology

SAP announced it has prepared several free online technology courses to be launched this fall for young and teens passionate about technology such as: Teens Get Coding! And Teaching Programming to Young Learner

 Read Full article »
Oracle gains cloud revenues up 51 per cent to 1.5 billion US dollars in new fiscal year's Q1

Oracle Corporation announced fiscal 2018 Q1 results, with total revenues up 7 per cent from the prior year to 9.2 billion US dollars. Cloud plus On-Premise Software Revenues were up 9 per cent to 7.4 billion US

 Read Full article »
Stefanini names Farlei Kothe as vice-president for EMEA

IT solutions developer Stefanini announced the naming of Farlei Kothe as vice-president for EMEA region. The new manager will coordinate the company's software development division from Bucharest.

 Read Full article »
Endava marks 10-year presence in Iasi and plans growth countrywide

British company Endava marks ten-year presence at Iasi, in North-Eastern Romania and also announces the opening of a new office in United Business Center of Palas Iasi compound.

 Read Full article »
Portland Trust celebrates 20-year anniversary with start of last phase of Oregon Park, Bucharest

The central European property developer Portland Trust and US based Ares Management are embarking on the final phase of Oregon Park, their new office park in Bucharest. This event coincides with the company 20

 Read Full article »
WBE: Which EU country is most at risk of cybercrime?

Computer users in South Eastern Europe may want to review their digital security after new research revealed they are the most vulnerable to cyber crime, a press release of Website Builder Expert (WBE) states.

 Read Full article »
GE opens new software center in Bucharest, looks for highly skilled IT specialists

GE announced that it speeds up growth for its software and digital resources in Romania and kicks off the recruitment campaign for GE Power's Grid Software Solutions (SWS) center in Bucharest.

 Read Full article »
DB Global Technology creates new technology hub, digital workplace floor and event venue

DB Global Technology S.R.L. (DBGT), Deutsche Bank's technology centre in Bucharest, has inau-gurated a new research and development hub, a digital workplace floor and a state-of-the-art event venue, according t

 Read Full article »
 
MOST RECENT VIDEO
 
 
MOST READ ARTICLES
» GE opens new software center in Buchar...
» ROMANIAN OUTSOURCING AWARDS FOR EXCELL...
» HIpark, a new office project of 21.000...
» DB Global Technology creates new techn...
» Stay updated on People in Shared Serv...
» Molson Coors started to grow its busin...
» Romania, Europe's third and world's 13...
» Endava opens fintech hub and doubles n...
» Genpact's COO: Staying ahead of the cu...
» Capgemini to develop, deploy, and main...
 
EDITOR CHOICE
TELUS International Europe: How big banks and fintechs are working together to innovate the customer experience

Comparing financial technology (fintech) companies to legacy financial institutions can invoke an image of David and Goliath. Fintech firms may be small, particularly when compared to the established titans of

 Read Full article »
Wipro launches automotive center of excellence in Romania

Wipro Limited, global information technology, consulting and business process services company, announced the launch of an Automotive Center of Excellence (CoE) in Timisoara, Romania. This CoE will help Wipro d

 Read Full article »
TELUS International Europe: The convergence of customer service and digital marketing/NewGen technologies: What does it mean for businesses?

Technology shapes the way we educate, communicate, conduct business and advance science, all while maintaining significant influence on the global economy. But the way we engage with technology is changing

 Read Full article »
Stay updated on People in Shared Services and Outsourcing Forum, October 19

Outsourcing Today organizes the third edition of People in Shared Services and Outsourcing Forum, on October 19, 2017 in Bucharest at Caro Hotel.

 Read Full article »
Preparing for the new future

Business shared services in Romania is by nature a flexible, mobile and diverse community and in this context, local markets develop their own particularities to address the global changes, to adjust to new dem

 Read Full article »
Latest News  
 
about us | newsletter | contact | members area
Copyright © 2015 by Diplomat Media Events Design by Diplomat Media Events