Perfecting Service Management

Issue #96

Tuesday, May 10, 2006

SCORE 2006 Symposium
Join Customer Centricity president Craig Bailey as he moderates one of the tracks at the annual Symposium for Customer Operations and Relationships Exposition, sponsored by Omega Management Group Corp. and the Customer Relationship Management Institute (CRMI). The symposium will be held June 12-15, 2006, at the Seaport Hotel, Boston, MA.

Make Your Outsourcer a Partner
by Craig Bailey

This is the fifth article in our series on maximizing outsourcer relationships. The prior edition discussed the topic of creating realistic, aligned and measurable goals. We will now cover the topic of including the outsourcer in your inner circle.

To set the stage, I'll again ask the fundamental question: Do you consider your outsourcer a vendor, a 3rd party that must be dealt with at arms-length distance? Or, do you consider your outsourcer a partner and seamless extension of your team? If it is the former, you will achieve marginal performance at best, and your customers will feel it, too, in the form of negative interactions with your firm. To be more specific, your customers will experience such unfortunate scenarios as:

  • Lack of availability of a hot new product or service because the outsourcer wasn't aware that it was launching today. The pallet of inventory you shipped is still sitting on the loading dock as it was assumed to be just another "run of the mill" inventory replenishment shipment.
  • Feeling like each time they contact you (via the outsourcer) they are talking to a different firm because they cannot get a straight answer to basic questions (how to fix a problem, availability of a product, product/service capabilities and pricing, etc.).
  • The initial point of contact being nothing more than a switchboard or message-taker because your outsourcer is not enabled or empowered with the information, tools and training to be able to effectively respond to your customers' needs.

Yes, even though the outsourcer is a 3rd party, to the customer YOU ARE ONE. As such, you want to enable your outsourcer to represent your firm in the most effective manner possible to the market-place and customer-base. How do you go about doing this? By integrating at all levels:

  • People/structure
  • Process
  • Product/Service
  • Technology

Now, we'll begin a discussion on each.

Integration of People/Structure

In an earlier article in this series, we discussed the alignment of resources, at all levels, between the two firms. In addition to this, a key aspect of integrating your team is enabling full disclosure between the two organizations (an opening of the kimono, so to speak). You will want to share information such as:

  • Organizational goals, objectives (even financials)
  • Corporate strategy
  • Products/services under development and scheduled for launch (far in advance)
  • Availability of products/services
  • Challenges facing the organization
  • Opportunities that the organization desires to exploit
  • And more!

And, the outsourcer will share the same for its organization.

Cross-company disclosure is as important and beneficial as sharing the above information with the employees of your firm! That is, you want ALL resources of your firm aligned to the same set of goals and objectives, and aware of the unique challenges and opportunities facing the organization. By doing so, each resource has an opportunity to contribute to success. If, on the other hand, you keep information close to your vest, your outsourcer will be severely hampered and disjointed from your business. More importantly, your customers will feel it, and they won't like it!

In future articles we will cover the remaining areas: Process, Product/Service, and Technology.

In closing, if you'd like an objective perspective on how effectively you are managing your outsourcer relationships, give us a call. We would be happy to perform a situational assessment, providing you a read-out of what is working well (to keep doing), opportunities for improvement and a pragmatic road-map for closing the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Alternatively, if you are considering outsourcing as an approach to addressing key business needs, we can help you evaluate options (including the basic question: does outsourcing make sense for us), consummating the relationship through implementing the standard operating practices to ensure an ongoing and effective relationship. In fact, we have the references to prove it!

View previous articles in this series.


+ SCORE 2006 Symposium
+ Make Your Outsourcer a Partner

+ 2006 Web Seminar 'Gold Series"
+ Recommended Reading

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2006 Web Seminar 'Gold Series'
CRMI is making seven "Gold Series" multimedia presentations available via its website. Delivered by seasoned industry experts, including Customer Centricity president Craig Bailey, these presentations are free to anyone interested in seeing and hearing how leveraging proven customer satisfaction and loyalty management techniques can increase sales and revenue.

Check in at
11:00AM on May 16th to participate in Craig's webinar: Branding the Customer Experience: Walking the Talk.

Recommended Reading
Frequent newsletter readers know how often we stress the importance of, and approach to, aligning all of a company's resources to the customer, in order to build mutually profitable relationships. The legendary Mike Hammer agrees, pulling these concepts together, and more, in his book The Agenda. If you are an organizational leader (senior executives this means YOU) and/or change agent charged with increasing the performance of your organization, this book is a must read. Too frequently, business leaders focus on the financials of the organization (the end state) while losing sight of the means to that end (the customer). This book clearly articulates how you can maximize the end state (positive financial outcomes) by focusing on the means to that end: effectively meeting and exceeding the needs of your customer through an aligned organization and streamlined processes.

About Customer Centricity, Inc.
We strengthen overall company performance through better service delivery and management.

We boost efficiencies in front-line customer service and technical support teams, order processing, fulfillment, field service, logistics and other key operations functions.

In short, we align the resources of your organization to exceed your customers' expectations in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

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