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
RPA solutions developer UiPath gets 30 million dollars financing from Accel Partners

Romanian start-up UiPath specializing in in robotic process automation announced it secured a 30 million dollars' worth financing from US venture capital firm Accel Partners.

 Read Full article »
Accace Romania − BPO digitization activities and 30 per cent increase in revenues in 2016

Accace, one of the leading outsourcing and consultancy services providers in Central and Eastern Europe, recorded a 30 per cent increase in turnover on the Romanian market in 2016.

 Read Full article »
Horatiu Cocheci and Nicoleta Dumitru join People's Advisory Services of EY Romania

Horatiu Cocheci and Nicoleta Dumitru, consultants with experience in human capital, join People's Advisory Services of EY Romania as Director and Senior Manager, a company release says.

 Read Full article »
Bittnet Systems plans merger with Gecad Net

IT&C solutions provider Bittnet Systems announced it plans to merge with Gecad Net with the goal to consolidate its position within multicloud area, according to representatives of Bittnet Systems.

 Read Full article »
Dedeman to implement Sap solutions for more efficient internal communication and employee management

Local retailer Dedeman will use SAP SucessFactors solution in order to get its recruiting, internal communication and training programs to a more efficient scale. The program will be used to manager over 9.000

 Read Full article »
EY: Global mining and metals sector faces digital disconnect

According to latest report of EY regarding the digital transformation in mining and metal sector globally, 15 percent of survey respondents say digital isn't on the agenda in their organization.

 Read Full article »
ABSL presents the 3rd edition of Iasi Business Mixer on 25th of April

The Association of Business Service Leaders in Romania (ABSL Romania), the organization that represents the local business services sector, will host the 3rd edition of the most important event dedicated to the

 Read Full article »
French energy operator Total opened support services center at Bucharest

Total, one of the largest major integrated oil and gas companies in the world, with activities in more than 130 countries and 98.000 employees opened a corporate support services center at Bucharest in March th

 Read Full article »
Accenture Report: Banks show confidence in cybersecurity but lack real-world testing

Many senior bank executives are confident about their cybersecurity strategy, yet a lack of comprehensive, practical testing is leaving gaps in their defense, according to a new report from Accenture.

 Read Full article »
Computaris reports positive 2016 results and outlook for 2017

Computaris International Ltd., specialized provider of software development and system integration services for software vendors and communication service providers, reports positive 2016 results and outlook

 Read Full article »
 
MOST RECENT VIDEO
 
 
MOST READ ARTICLES
» Yonder: The first Dutch company in Clu...
» RPA solutions developer UiPath gets 30...
» ABSL presents the 3rd edition of Iasi ...
» Fintech for the aging population: What...
» Accace Romania − BPO digitization ac...
» Grégoire Vigroux appointed the new Vi...
» Stefanini plans 25 per cent growth of ...
» JLL: Romania will finish this year pro...
» TELUS International Europe: Three cons...
» TELUS International Europe: How to def...
 
EDITOR CHOICE
Romanian Outsourcing Awards for Excellence designates the industry winners on May 11

Outsourcing Today, the integrated communication platform of the business services sector, presents the Third Edition of the annual Romanian

 Read Full article »
TELUS International Europe: More proactive, personalized customer experience, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT)

Industry research is apt to say we're on the cusp of a future full of "smart" devices — that is, billions of everyday items embedded with wireless internet connectivity

 Read Full article »
Romanian Outsourcing Summit: Focus on the added-value of business shared services in Romania

This year's edition of Romanian Outsourcing Summit joined representatives of the government and top representatives of leading companies operating in the sector of business shared services and related industrie

 Read Full article »
Romanian Outsourcing Summit reaches its third edition

OUTSOURCING TODAY, the integrated communication platform of the business services sector, powered by The Diplomat Bucharest, presents the Third Edition of the ROMANIAN OUTSOURCING SUMMIT on March 23rd 2017, at

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