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Why Overseas Outsourcing Doesn’t Work

Why Overseas Outsourcing Doesn’t Work

Goodbay Technologies

As businesses of all kinds look for opportunities to scale in size, cut costs, preserve profit margins, and create a better experience for their customers all at the same time, they often begin to think about call center outsourcing as a viable way to accomplish these goals.

At a certain point, business leaders usually realize that they have two main options available to them: they could choose to enlist the help of a call center outsourcing provider in the United States, or they could turn to an overseas counterpart.

Depending on what you need and what you’re trying to do, it’s entirely possible that an overseas call center outsourcing provider may immediately be the “cheaper” of the two options. But, as history has shown, that doesn’t always make it “better” – far from it, in point of fact.

It’s imperative that you look at your outsourcing relationship as an actual relationship in every sense of the term. From that point of view, it’s not too dissimilar to any other interpersonal relationship that you might have – be it one with your lifelong best friend, or your marriage to your partner, or something else entirely.

Relationships are many things – but one thing they aren’t is passive. Even the strongest relationships will thrive or fail for the same basic reasons:

  • A general lack of communication between the two parties, or communication styles that vary so much that they’re essentially incompatible with one another.
  • A mutual misunderstanding of the shared goals, or future desires, between the two parties.
  • A lack of trust (and by association, accountability) that one party has to the other.

It doesn’t matter where your relationship began or what mutual qualities it was founded on… if it’s going to end, it’s likely to do so because of one (or even all) of those three elements.

The same is true of your call center outsourcing partner. While issues can certainly arise in a domestic outsourcing partnership, there will always be a greater risk when there is an overseas misalignment – particularly if these elements are missing. In fact, it may even be safe to say that for the vast majority of all businesses in the United States, overseas outsourcing just doesn’t work for a number of key reasons that are certainly worth exploring.

The Problem with Varying Communication Styles, or a Lack of Communication

Maybe the number one reason why overseas outsourcing often fails is usually, for most organizations, the most obvious. Often organizations are too quick to commit to a vendor without proper time to establish long-term communication. Both parties enter into an agreement with the best of intentions and often everyone is more than willing to act in good faith – but a massive physical distance, coupled with significant time differences, proves to be far too difficult to overcome.

You’re having a problem that can’t wait until morning, it needs to be addressed now – regardless of what the clock says. But if your outsourcing partner is halfway around the world and eight hours ahead of you, even the simple act of getting someone on the phone can oftentimes be a lot easier said than done.

Again – nobody wants to provide you with poor or subpar service. They don’t want to let your call unanswered. But sadly, that’s often what happens – even in the fast-paced digital world that we’re now living in.

Along the same lines, certain cultural or communications gaps usually rear their ugly heads fairly quickly – often with potentially disastrous results. This can be something as simple as “you say one thing, your outsourcing provider hears another.” Or it could be more deeply rooted than that, where your expectations just don’t line up for the way business is actually conducted in a certain part of the world. It doesn’t matter where the problem comes from – it’s a problem all the same, and it’s one that will be difficult to mitigate moving forward.

It’s also important to keep in mind that remote locations within the same organization will likely suffer the same consequences. If you have a business with multiple locations that are already spread out across a large geographic area, or if you have a lot of employees who are working from home, you need to be able to leverage technology in a way that gives them this freedom while still allowing them to come together to form something far more powerful than they could be on their own. They still need to be empowered to the point where they’re capable of contributing to the greater good.

If you and your outsourcing partner are not on the same page, they won’t be able to do this – and that is a problem that is only going to get worse as time goes on.  You need to ask yourself, is your organization set up for success with a remote workforce? Do you still have sufficient real-time human connections (video conference) to ensure continuity of your message and of your orgainzation’s culture, mission and values?

 

Similarly, these issues will only be exacerbated if technology or physical means of communication varies across organizations. This is true both in terms of those remote offices within your business, and with your outsourcing partner. If you and your teams rely heavily on fast-paced, peer-to-peer communication via a solution like Slack, it’s going to prove challenging if your outsourcing provider insists on email, telephone or video conferencing to get things done.

At that point, both parties are being forced to change the way they do things to bend to the will of the other. This is always a recipe for disaster, but especially so when you and your outsourcing provider are separated by a couple of thousand miles of ocean.

A General Misunderstanding of Shared Goals or Future Desires

As is true with a more literal relationship like a marriage, oftentimes things begin to break down when one party slowly realizes that they just want something different out of the future from the other. A husband might realize that he really wants to have children and start a family and his wife may want the opposite. This can always happen with your outsourcing provider and if that partner is located overseas, it’s only going to make things worse.

Sadly, this type of conversation itself doesn’t always occur – either originally when the “relationship” begins, consistently as it plays out, or honestly when a problem is identified. You might even reach the point where you and this business partner are fully aware that something is wrong, but you can’t bring yourself to bring it up. Again – this is not the type of business relationship you should be in and it is certainly not one that is going to drive your organization forward.

For the best results, you absolutely need to think about what the shared goals of each organization actually are. Leadership may have two totally different ideas about what the next few years looks like – but provided those trajectories overlap enough, that isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm.

But if both cannot be achieved at the exact same time… it’s a crystal clear indication that something is wrong.

Again, think of the example of a marriage where one spouse desperately wants to relocate for the purposes of securing a better job, but doing so would be at the detriment of the other’s education. It’s not that one of these goals is invalid and the other isn’t. It’s that they’re two completely viable options that are totally incompatible with one another.

At a certain point, you have to ask yourself – “are these discussions occurring internally at least at first, so that they are fully informed, knowledgeable and most importantly proactive?” If they’re not, you’re dealing with a problem that you can only delay addressing for so long. It’s also a problem that is another in a long line of reasons why overseas outsourcing doesn’t always work.

A Lack of Trust, and Accountability, to the Other Party

At this point, it should be clear that you need to see your outsourcing partner as exactly that – a partner in the strictest sense of the term. They’re not an organization that you’re hiring to perform a simple service. It’s not like calling a plumber to fix a leaky sink, or a locksmith because you locked your keys in your car.

They’re business professionals, the same as you are. Because of that, you’re talking about someone that not only needs to become an organic, intimate part of your business that is baked into its very DNA, but also one that will continue to play that critical role for years to come.

How, then, are you supposed to reach that point if one of the parties trusts and holds themselves accountable to the other, while the other does not?

Think about it like this – trust isn’t necessarily something that is going to happen naturally. It takes time to build up and strengthen and, most importantly, it’s something you need to earn.

You would never even dream about committing to a lifelong friendship after a two minute meeting with someone on the first day of school. That relationship develops slowly – usually after bonding over a sports team, or on a first “play date,” or what have you.

The point is, it’s an evolution over time. It encapsulates a wide range of environments and a wide range of people. Unfortunately, this also makes it incredibly fragile – which is another reason why overseas outsourcing is not the right decision to make for so many businesses.

In a professional setting, the list of reasons why trust can be lost is every bit as long as it is varied. One minute everything is moving along smoothly, and the next you’ve missed production targets due to communication difficulties. Or maybe you’re gearing up for a new wave of your business, only to realize that your provider has failed to staff the right people for the right job at exactly the right time.

Maybe it’s come down to a series of broken IT tools that are causing more problems than they’re solving, or even a series of unethical actions that make you question why you even started this relationship in the first place.

At that point, you really do have to ask yourself – where is the accountability in all this? Are both parties genuinely acting in an accountable way towards the other?

In a more precise business sense, accountability in this context comes down to a number of key factors. Are they making an effort to make sure there is a genuine personality alignment between their staff and your company culture? Are they branding in all the ways you need them to? Are they genuinely giving your goals equal weight to theirs, or is it clear that they see you as a cog in a wheel? Do they seem to be legitimately excited about the work that you’re doing together?

If the answer to these questions is “no,” you’re looking at more than just a lack of accountability to you from your overseas outsourcing partner. You’re looking at a lack of trust – if trust ever truly existed in the first place.

The key takeaway from all of this is that it’s not that outsourcing doesn’t work – it’s that oftentimes challenges like these quickly become far too much for overseas outsourcing providers to handle.

At Goodbay Technologies, we fully understand this – and we also have a series of processes and best practices in place designed to help avoid these types of unfortunate situations altogether.

The Goodbay Approach

Again, absolutely none of this is to say that overseas providers are somehow “inferior” or are “out to get you.” There is absolutely nothing sinister going on, here. There are incredible businesses overseas who are doing terrific work – it’s just that they’re doing them for local businesses.

Likewise, none of this is to say that a domestic partnership is impervious to failure. If you don’t have communication, trust, accountability and an understanding of what you both hope to accomplish, that relationship will fundamentally collapse regardless of where in the world your partner is located.

Having said all of that, it’s not like there are no potential advantages to be enjoyed when partnering with an overseas outsourcing partner. In fact, maybe the biggest is also, likely for most people, the most important – cost savings.

It is absolutely true that you can cost effectively find a team of people overseas who are ready and waiting to answer your calls, respond to emails and perform every other basic function that you need a call center to do. They will likely do so dutifully and on time, and will help guarantee that your customers always have someone to talk to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

It’s just that more often than not, this is where the extent of the value they provide will end.

At Goodbay Technologies, we’ve always made an effort to do things a bit differently. It’s part of the reason why we don’t call our employees “customer support agents” at all. We call them “critical thinking agents,” because that’s what we need them to do – and that’s what they’re prepared to do for you.

Our extensive agent certification program, for example, isn’t just designed to quickly get our people up to speed on the inner workings of your business. It’s designed to keep them there for as long as possible. It lets us quickly identify those people who are the right fit for your particular needs, thus putting us in a better position to deliver to you a steady stream of people who will be able to meet your needs and exceed your expectations for as long as they have the opportunity to do so.

A side effect of this approach (one that is very much intended) is that all of our agents are always up-to-date on exactly what is going on with the product and service offerings of our clients, regardless of how often those offerings happen to change.

Along the same lines, we have a custom quality assurance program that continually guarantees that all of our agents are meeting or exceeding all of the criteria and goals that you’ve told us are important. We’re always collecting data about what our agents are up to, allowing us incredible visibility into what they’re doing well and – more importantly – what they might not be. If someone needs a bit of additional training, we find out as quickly as possible – thus putting us in the best position to do something about it.

Because we’re based in the same country that you are, we can also provide a variety of additional value added services, too. We always make an effort to run CSAT surveys after every customer interaction, for example, because we always want to hear every thought that a customer might have about the agent in question.

Finally, a domestic partnership with a company like Goodbay Technologies also gives us a chance to pay closer attention to all of the metrics that matter most to you. It’s hard to keep a constant overview on key performance indicators (KPIs) like first contact resolution rates, average handling time and more when your partner is halfway across the globe and in a different time zone. That’s just the way things are. Thankfully, we DO have an opportunity to cover your bases to that extent… and that’s an opportunity that we are ready to take full advantage of.

At the end of the day, perhaps the most apt description of the difference between an overseas call center outsourcing provider and a company like Goodbay Technologies is the following:

By design, an overseas provider will always be an add-on for your business. They have a very precise job to do, and the chances are high that they’ll be able to do it – as long as you don’t suffer any of the unfortunate side effects as outlined above.

But a domestic provider is something totally different – because of their close proximity to the heart of your organization, they can become a natural, organic part of that business in all of the ways that you need. They can be a powerful force on the inside of your business facing outward, rather as acting as little more than a “middle man” on the path customers take to get into contact with your brand in the first place.

It may not seem like a big distinction, but it absolutely is. In an era where customer service is becoming one of the key value differentiators and competitive advantages in nearly every industry you can think of, it’s also one that you cannot afford to ignore any longer.

Contact Goodbay Technologies Today

At Goodbay Technologies, we’ve always taken a great deal of pride in being more than just another call center outsourcing provider. Yes, we provide those types of services – but in truth, it’s only a small portion of the value that we can bring to a business like yours. We emphasize intelligent customer support above all else – one that creates exceptional experiences and even better outcomes, both for your employees and the customers you’ve dedicated yourself to serving.

Not only do we take the time to actually learn as much about your business as possible (so that we can “speak the same language,” as it were), but we also double down and focus on all of the qualities that matter most. Yes, this includes driving positive CSAT and FCR scores – but also with regards to the techniques that help you create satisfied, repeat customers that themselves lead to significant cost reductions down the road.

We don’t want to just provide you with “human bots.” Anybody can do that. We want to provide you with the rock solid foundation of customer support that you can then build something incredible on top of – and that is a goal that we will work hard to achieve every single day.

If you’d like to find out more information about why overseas outsourcing doesn’t always work in situations like yours, or if you just have any additional questions that you’d like to discuss with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Goodbay Technologies today.

 

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