Twenty years ago, technology was so primitive that BPO companies on the other side of the city might as well have been across the ocean.
Back in those days, we had to drive 30 minutes from our head office to a particular BPO for meetings and on-site call monitoring. The company would also email (or fax) daily reports and have weekly conference calls with us, which was considered state of the art client-CPO communication at the time.
Fast forward to today and clients have the power to leverage technology for instant queue and workforce management updates, real-time remote call monitoring, remote training, and common knowledge bases, as well as instant messaging and audio/video communication with their BPO – quite a significant improvement on the “good” old days.
In other words, the technology to enable great client-BPO relationships is already there. Here’s how clients can get the most out of today’s useful tools and make Nearshore feel like onshore.
Instant queue and workforce management updates
For those who are worried about BPO service levels, or concerned about BPO staffing versus expenses, some BPOs allow clients to see real time key performance indicators (KPIs) that allow them to analyze trends.
These new tools provide clients with extraordinary insight into their BPO’s operation, but be careful of micromanaging – if you have a good BPO partner, you should trust them to run their own business, asking yourself if you want to monitor for control, or for results.
In other words, are you trying to manage the BPO like another in-house site, or are you fully outsourcing the running of it to the BPO? Although technology means you can micromanage your BPO partner’s staff, how does that align with your outsourcing strategy?
Sure, leverage the tools available, but always be cognizant of your BPO’s capabilities when it comes to the workforce heavy lifting. After all, it was likely part of the reason for choosing them.
Real-time remote call monitoring
This technology enables clients to hear calls received and made by their call center partners in real time, or listen to the recordings later. Some clients even use this for their own in-house quality assurance (QA) teams as a way to evaluate calls, giving a high degree of quality control.
If you choose this method, ensure your QA team provides feedback to the BPO’s management staff so that agents can receive the appropriate feedback and coaching.
Other clients choose to have the BPO’s own QA team do call scoring. A third option is to have another outsourced organization do QA, eliminating the need for an in-house QA team, while also providing a third-party audit for QA.
Remote training: e-learning and webinars
Some clients choose to have their BPO partners conduct all training, but there are still plenty who leverage technology to share in-house training with each other.
E-learning and webinars ensure that agents receive the same training as in-house staff, but they may also choose to supplement that training with additional courses about the client’s customer base, its expectations, and the BPO’s own internal systems.
Common knowledge bases
Knowledge bases allow company updates, such as new product information or CX processes, to be shared instantly, so it’s advisable to share a common knowledge base with your BPO partners when appropriate.
Comparatively, if you force your outsourced partners to create their own knowledge base for your customers, it can create challenges with version control and updated information, resulting in agents providing outdated or incorrect information – it is much easier to have one database for both in-house and outsourced departments.
New knowledgebase technology allows clients to tag information for different job types, so agents can get the front-line information they need to help your customers, while in-house escalation teams have access to second level information.
Instant messaging and real-time audio/video communication
While your BPO team may be in a different part of the world, it doesn’t mean they need to be so distant from your core operations.
With videoconferencing technologies you can include contact center staff in your in-house meetings and rallies, making them feel more like part of the team, which builds motivation, inclusion, and productivity.
Use free audio conference calls to build greater rapport with them while also leveraging real-time instant messaging apps like Slack to communicate with managers, team leaders, workforce management team, and QA staff.
One final tip
Despite a multitude of technology options now available, sometimes the old methods are still the best, so don’t forget to maintain a healthy balance between both high-tech and high-touch approaches. Along with the above approaches, make sure to use old-fashioned site visits, generous giveaways, and personal recognition to make your BPO partners feel like part of the team.