Perfecting Service Management

Issue #99

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Outsourcing: Feedback from Outsourcers and Their Customers
by Craig Bailey

This is the eighth article in our series on maximizing outsourcer relationships. The prior edition covered the topic of ensuring your outsourcer effectively represents your brand or image to the market-place and your customer.

Since the publication of our last newsletter, we've had the pleasure of delivering a talk on "Partnering with your Outsourcer" to an audience made up of outsourcers and customers of outsourcers. The material covered in this talk included much of the content published in the last several editions of our newsletter. With that said, we thought it would be worthy to share some of the "ah-has" heard from outsourcers and clients of outsourcers at this conference.

The biggest "ah-ha" was that of an outsourcer customer indicating that "I now realize that I [a senior executive from the customer's firm] am over half the problem with the relationship we have with our outsourcer." This acknowledgement resulted from the observation that most outsourcing arrangements are consummated and implemented with significant executive involvement. Then, shortly thereafter, executives disengage and only get involved when there is a problem. However, this insightful person recognized the fact that many of the problems that had materialized resulted from a lack of information being provided to the outsourcer from which the outsourcer could effectively respond and react in advance, rather than being surprised.

Another major "ah-ha" was the realization by many of the outsourcer customers that they weren't taking advantage of their outsourcer as a voice of their customers. While the outsourcing firm interfaces with its client's customers every day and has a perspective on the customer experience and satisfaction, many of these clients firms have never asked their outsourcer for input or perception of the customer experience and what could change to improve the situation. Too frequently, they simply viewed the outsourcer as an entity to direct and they hadn't proactively asked the outsourcer to provide perspective or specific customer feedback on how things could be improved.

One of the topics covered in a prior edition of our newsletter, which was discussed in this conference, related to establishing win-win SLAs. More specifically, we discussed how to reward the outsourcer for achieving or over-achieving SLAs. That is, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to reward (at least financially) an outsourcer for achieving (isn't that what they were hired to do) or over-achieving the established SLAs. One audience member suggested that an approach he had found to be truly effective was that of committing to the outsourcer that as long as they over-achieved (met some level of exceptional performance standard) that their contract would NOT be put out for a competitive bid. Now there is a creative approach to ensure you keep the outsourcer's attention on over-achieving.

In closing, if you'd like an objective perspective on how effectively your outsourcers are representing you in the marketplace, 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 even 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.


+ Outsourcing: Feedback from Outsourcers and Their Customers
+ Recommended Reading

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Recommended Reading
This issue's recommended reading is CRM Magazine article
Implement CRM or Become Customer-Centric? by Dick Lee. Mr. Lee emphasizes that CRM alone will not help companies serve their customers better. Rather, CRM has to include a company-wide shift in customer-centric strategy.

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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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