You’re signed a service agreement and you’re ready to get started with your brand new Outsourced BPO provider. Now, what happens?
First off, congratulations are in order – you made it! It certainly wasn’t an easy process to get to this point, but the RFP phase is finally over. Your decision-making committee has selected an outsourced provider and your legal and finance teams have all had their say. You’ve got a freshly signed agreement in front of you and the ink is probably still drying. Now, at long last, you’re ready to get to work.
We don’t want to sugar coat things – beginning a relationship with a new outsourced customer support center is certainly a tall task. But what it DOESN’T have to be is arduous or painful. In fact, with the right approach, it can be quite the opposite. In reality, it can be the genuine first step towards reinventing, reinvigorating and advancing your customer support department to rise to the challenges of the modern era.
But training is only one small part of a much larger story that is about to unfold before your very eyes. What else is involved, you ask? It’s simple:
- A thorough documentation and review of both your policies and support processes.
- A healthy amount of scrutiny when it comes to updating all of your self-help content.
- A careful analysis of your tools and technology.
- An advanced augmentation of your support style and culture.
- A deeper look at your business analytics and what we can do to help put technology to work for YOU instead of the other way around.
Now, if you’ll permit us, let’s take the opportunity to go over all of these things in greater detail, one-by-one.
Training Your New Team
Quite often, there is a realization of how much of your training is based on the transfer of knowledge and information. This is usually referred to as Tribal Knowledge, and it runs contrary to working through a defined and comprehensive training manual.
Your brand new support partner should absolutely do most of the heavy lifting to that end on your behalf. At the very least, they should work alongside you as a genuine partner to update, document and organize ALL the training materials needed to train your new support representatives.
For the best results, training should actually be broken down into a series of smaller and more manageable chunks. Most in-house departments only focus on the first piece, otherwise known as product knowledge. But the entire process encompasses things like:
- Product Training. This is the true “nuts and bolts” of the process as it enables people to learn your product and your “widget,” all while becoming the true subject matter experts about your unique style of doing things that you need them to be.
- Business Process Training. In other words, this is where people learn the policies and guidelines they should be following.
- Almost immediately, you begin to gain an extra benefit if you’ve selected the right partner. Here is where you get to ask questions of and challenge your policies in a way that makes them better, stronger and more effective.
- Do your policies share in the best practices of other clients, suggest opportunities to re-evaluate the “way things have always be done” and offer more room for improvement? Because they absolutely should and, with the right partner, they will.
- Are there efficiencies that can be gained in these processes? These are the types of questions you need to be thinking about at this point in the process.
Shifting to an outsourced provider will certainly force some new tools, practices and collaboration points into the mix. They might be as rudimentary as passing a post-it note around the office but, over time, they add up to something incredibly powerful that you would be hard-pressed to replicate on your own.
A few of the other things that you’ll go over at this point in your relationship include factors like:
- Systems and Tools Training. In the best case scenario, your new partner should hopefully know your own software tools either as well as or better than you do today – if you’ve selected the right partner, that is.
- We all fall into the trap of clicking the same five buttons in our software suite because “that’s just the way things work.” Is there more in front of you that your team isn’t using today that your new partner has experience in? That’s the kind of thing that they’re supposed to help you find out.
- Communication Style, Tone and Cultural Training. Has anyone ever asked you what your communication style actually is and what ideas you want your support to display?
- Have you ever asked this of yourself? Because you should have.
- Has your in-house team ever been trained to uniformly communicate in this way, creating the most consistent experience possible for your customers?
- Do you even have a trainer on hand to facilitate this level of training and specificity?
If you’ve selected the right outsourcing partner, they will help you realize the value of ALL of these discussion points. But more than that, they’ll SHOW and not TELL you that they understand through the careful training of all staff members they’re bringing with them.
Documentation and Review of Your Policies and Support Process
But one of the most critical things to keep in mind throughout all of this is that ALL the above points should be discussed, shared, documented and refreshed whenever you have the opportunity to do so. These are the core ingredients necessary to make tangible progress possible.
Sure, you might say to yourself “of course I have that written down.” That’s a great start – but that’s all it is, the start of something bigger. When was the last time a process was reviewed, refreshed and retain at the speed of your business?
If you answered “not for awhile,” don’t worry. That’s actually the most common answer we hear at Goodbay Technologies.
A successful on-boarding process is one that will guarantee you have updated and documented all topics that people will go over during the training process. But the good news is that you will now have a partner who not only takes ownership over this role, but who is self-motivated and who refreshes the information on a regular basis as-needed.
Overall, a successful on-boarding process should have an owner that leverages not only state-of-the-art online learning tools, but also certifications and ongoing educational systems. All of this adds up to a great way to make sure that agents are continually provided with the details they need to be successful.
Agents aren’t mind readers, and they shouldn’t be expected to be. But they DO learn fast – and that’s part of what this process is all about.
Scrutiny and Updating Your Self-Help Content
Another significant part of the training process comes by way of collecting information from public-facing resources. This includes the data contained in not only your own self-help guides, but also your official social media pages on sites like Facebook, Twitter and any social forums that you’re participating in.
But what about “unofficial” support sites? Think about all the invaluable insight contained on retailer product review boards. What can you and your people learn from Yelp, Google and reviews with the Better Business Bureau. What about any fan pages that have been created, or sub-reddits that real customers are having real conversations in on a daily basis?
Do you even know where your customers are going to get the valuable information they need when they need it the most?
These are the sites that you should be not only paying attention to, but actively participating in. You should be MODERATING The conversations on those sites, gently steering them in the very precise direction you need them to go in.
Therein lies the beauty of choosing the right outsourced partner in the first place: they know the true value of supporting your customers where THEY currently are, rather than trying to force them to go wherever YOU want them to. To put it another way, don’t start a conversation and hope that your customer decides to pay attention. Participate in the conversations that those customers are already having.
After you’ve carefully audited WHERE all of that communication is occurring, do you have a mechanism in place that will tell you how accurate and comprehensive the information at each of those locations really is? Do you have someone who can correct, update and moderate those self-help sites?
If you’ve selected the correct outsourcing partner, the answer to that question is easy: “you will.”
Analysis of Your Tools and Your Technology
It’s truly amazing how many software tools, systems and technologies are deployed in a vacuum. It’s actually quite rare for your own in-house IT professionals to proactively prepare for the day someone outside your office has to actually use those tools.
When these systems exist in a vacuum, the critical data contained within them does the same. The insight hidden inside that data cannot be shared easily or, in some cases, at all. This means that each agent is essentially running their own mini enterprise, creating a confusing and ultimately frustrating experience for your customers when they try to get the support they need on the topics that matter most to them.
This is the part of the process where your new partner will change all of that, for the better and for all time.
Yes, this will force a complete re-analysis of your current environment. In may even prompt you to update, refresh or change many of the tools and technologies that you use to deliver support to your customers in the first place.
But all of this effort is in service of the most important thing of all: your customers.
If you don’t have the IT time (or budget) required to make any of these improvements, don’t worry – your new partner should have an in-house software engineering team who can build ALL the middle-ware required in the fastest and most cost effective ways possible.
IF you’ve selected the right partner, that is.
Augmentation of Your Support Style and Culture
At this point in the process, you need to look inward – asking questions of yourself that, by now, should have fairly obvious answers. You’ll need to carefully consider questions like:
- Why did you decide to outsource your support department in the first place?
- Were you trying to improve response times and the quality of replies that were going out to your customers?
- Did you want to increase the hours and days of coverage that you were capable of providing?
- Did you want to allow your in-house staff to offer the highest level of “VIP” support to your most valued customers?
- Was it some combination, or even all, of the above?
There are no wrong answers to these questions. All that matters is that you take the time to answer them.
No matter what you were trying to accomplish and no matter what the benefit actually was, NOW is the time to re-invent the perception of your current Customer Support team. Keep in mind, however, that this involves both the external perception (meaning how your customers see you) and the internal perception (meaning how you see yourself).
The answers to questions like those outlined above will create brand new ones – all of which will help act as a roadmap as you transition from the organization you currently are to the one you always hoped you’d be.
- What, exactly, do you want this new perception to be?
- Why is that perception so important to you?
- What will it allow you to accomplish tomorrow that you can’t today?
- Are you working with your marketing and human resources teams to be incredibly vocal about these improvements, both in internal and external capacities?
At this point, a proverbial road map of self-improvement has been created for you via the important work that you’re doing with your new outsourced partner. Now, all you really have to do is follow it.
A Deeper Look at Your Business Analytics
An intelligent customer support partner will want to take a long, hard look at your business intelligence and analytics BEFORE they answer their first call or email for you.
They’ll want to know what your highest volume of issue categories are, what trends they need to be aware of, and what the KPIs are for all of these topics. Their goal will be to guarantee beyond the shadow of a doubt that they have a baseline for ALL of these measurements BEFORE they get started. This puts them in the best possible position to measure the positive impact of your new relationship.
If you don’t have these numbers handy, you once again shouldn’t worry. Your new partner should be a master at this already and they can easily glean these numbers for you from the work they’ve already been doing. Case in point:
- Your new partner will have their own need for reporting and analytics. They will know what other clients in your industry desire to see in daily, weekly, and monthly reporting. But more importantly, they will recreate those best practices for you.
- Your new partner will have a deep understanding and appreciation of business intelligence for your customer support. In a lot of ways, this is their ONLY job. They need to SHOW the benefit of your relationship and would do all the heavy lifting for you in this regard.
The Goodbay Technologies Approach: Learning From the Past to Improve the Future
If you’ve selected the right partner at the start of this process, all of this will be done long before they ever pick up the phone or open that support ticket for the first time. This process and this structure has always been a core part of what we do here at Goodbay Technologies and indeed, it’s precisely what has allowed us to act as “the perfect partner” for so many organizations like yours in the past.
This process is long, yes. It contains many valuable items to flesh out. But it does NOT have to be a painful process. If anything, you should see it for what it really is: a reinvention in the best possible way.
The majority of all successful on-boarding engagements will give you access to value and insights that you simply didn’t have before your decision to outsource. The kind that would have been difficult – if not impossible – to get on your own. But none of that changes the fact that before you have the very first KPI for Customer Support Performance from your new partner, you WILL already have acquired immense value from your new relationship.
Truly, what could be more critical to the long-term success of your organization than that?
If you’d like to find out more about what a successful on-boarding process truly looks like in the modern era, or if you have any additional questions that you’d like to see answered by someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Goodbay Technologies today.