SCORE 2006 Symposium
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,
Outsourcers: Partners in Process
This is the sixth
article in our series on maximizing outsourcer relationships. The
prior edition began the discussion of including the outsourcer in your
inner circle with a specific focus on the alignment of people within and
across companies. We will now expand on that topic by discussing
If your firm is like many, you have worked hard to break down barriers
within your organization by streamlining processes and removing steps that
add no value to the end-customer. These streamlining efforts often begin
when it becomes painfully obvious that, for example, the timeframe to
deliver a product or solution to the customer is unacceptable. Upon
further analysis it is learned that there are redundancies in the process.
Multiple departments are required to touch the order and, upon each touch,
a "QA" step takes place, which ultimately means that you have "checkers,
checking checkers to check checkers" each ensuring the order has been
accurately processed by the preceding step or steps in the process.
An effective approach for addressing this situation is to establish a
single process owner who, regardless of the number of people and
organizations involved, is responsible for the positive and timely outcome
of the entire end-to-end process. This process leader has over-arching
authority to streamline the process, removing steps that add no value to
the end-customer while increasing accountability to the process by each
If you would like to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of working
with your outsourcer, then consider taking the same approach here.
For example, let's assume that you have outsourced your tier 1 customer
support. A typical objective for the outsourcer is to resolve as many
inquiries as possible "at first touch." However, there will always be
exception situations requiring the outsourcer to engage your organization.
When engaging your organization to respond to a critical customer inquiry,
does your outsourcer have to wait in the general contact center phone
queue? When your outsourcer does reach your firm, does the issue need to
be re-stated in order to be re-entered into YOUR customer service system?
Is your outsourcer able to set customer expectations in this scenario, or
is the outsourcer at the mercy of your firm and must simply wait for
resolution? And, worse still, does your outsourcer receive repeat calls
from customers who are anxiously awaiting resolution to a previously
reported problem that the outsourcer can't address?
You may think that these situations are absurd. But, the reality is that
these are real-life scenarios that may very well be occurring at your
There is a better way. Instead of literally having two separate customer
service processes (the outsourcer's and yours) that just happen to
intermingle, you are encouraged to define a single customer service
process that seamlessly spans the two organizations. Building upon the
above example, this would include defining an over-arching process that
The outsourcer has a special number to dial that
ensures prompt attention for escalated or critical customer reported
issues based on agreed upon guidelines.
The outsourcer has access to your customer service
system to log all customer reported inquiries.
Service level agreements are defined that your firm is
accountable to your outsourcer to achieve. Yes, your firm is accountable
to your outsourcer to respond to customer issues in a timely manner in
order to ensure a positive experience for YOUR customer.
The above is just the beginning. In the words of Michael Hammer, in his
Agenda, "This means recognizing that, just as corporate
departments are components of larger business processes, whole enterprises
are components of larger inter-enterprise business processes." Said
another way, you are encouraged to view your outsourcer as just another
department within your organization responsible for performing certain
aspects of your process. In so doing, you can work together to streamline
processes so that transactions flow seamlessly between organizations,
resulting in significant win-win. This exercise will result in improved
efficiencies and profitability. More importantly your customers will feel
the difference, leading to the ultimate objective: increased customer
In future articles we will cover the remaining areas of inter-company
integration: 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
+ Outsourcers: Partners in Process
+ Recommended Reading
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Complementing our series on Partnering With Your Outsourcer is CRM
Live the Brand by Dana Chryst. Ms. Chryst echoes the important
sentiment that a 3rd-party fulfillment company needs to be tightly
integrated with its clients and its clients' customers. She offers several
considerations; continue to read our series for how to put her ideas into
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
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