By Shane Jackson
Nearshoring is becoming increasingly common as Australian companies deal with a highly competitive labour market and the increasing costs associated with service delivery from contact centres in major cities. More and more companies are turning to New Zealand as a low risk location, thanks to its ease of business, quality service delivery, lower costs and shared culture with Australia.
Australian companies across diverse industry sectors including Banking and Finance, Insurance, Retail and Health have already found real value from locating their contact centres in New Zealand. But companies should not restrict their search for locations and partners to the major cities. There are significant customer experience benefits to be had by locating centres in regional cities, such as Palmerston North in the Manawatu district. The high levels of agent retention, low operating costs (35-40% lower than Australia) and the ability to attract specialist staff thanks to the appealing and affordable lifestyle are all substantial advantages.
Locating to any new environment introduces new challenges whether you are transitioning to an in-house centre or engaging the support of an outsource partner. Here are a few tips to ensure the successful implementation of your nearshore strategy.
- Define your scope clearly: The decision to move your centre to another country should be more that a knee jerk reaction to cost cutting pressures. Define your end goal and what it will take to get there. A nearshore move is likely to be suited to higher end service, sales and technical programs than more transactional services. Determine which of these services are in scope and prioritise accordingly. Make sure your focus is centred on improving the Customer Experience
- Research the strengths of each region and potential partners: Even if the executive strategy is to secure an outsource partner, do your own early research into which regions can demonstrate experience providing the skillsets you require such as IT Support, Customer Service, Sales and multi-lingual skills. Also consider regions with major universities and skilled industry groups as these often provide a pool of available and talented resources. Major outsourcing organisations can generally provide additional insights but don’t overlook the value of freelance specialists in providing invaluable perspectives on locations and implementing omni-channel contact centre strategies in the nearshore environment.
- Start small and set realistic ramp timelines: Resist the temptation to go with a big bang approach to transition as this will place enormous pressure on support resources such as recruitment, training and infrastructure groups. Try to get it right the first time through proper planning and a staged ramp. Start with a pilot program if possible. Palmerston North offers existing facilities and infrastructure to conduct your pilot program. Take the learnings from the pilot and remove some of the pain from your first major ramp.
- Create sustainable partnerships: Whether you are outsourcing the end-to-end solution or just key components of the solution such as recruitment, training and IT support, make sure that your expectations, including how you will manage variances to the project plan, are clearly articulated in a statement of work. A long term partnering approach will contribute to better collaboration between you and your providers and more sustainable business outcomes in a new operating environment. Regional providers thrive in this environment.
- Invest for Success: Securing Executive support beyond the decision making process is critical to removing potential roadblocks from project success. Organisations that successfully transition to overseas environments also seed the new operation with experienced personnel both short and longer term. This facilitates quicker knowledge transfer, cultural alignment and improved speed to competency for agents. Creating virtual, knowledge sharing teams across multiple locations can also prove invaluable.
Article contributed by Shayne Jackson Consulting. Shayne Jackson has been actively involved in the BPO/Contact Centre Industry for almost 20 years. As a results oriented professional with significant experience in thought leadership, he now provides consulting services with a focus on leading strategic and operational initiatives to improve business performance while enhancing the customer experience.
For further information on nearshoring your contact centre in New Zealand please contact Shayne Jackson (mailto:Shayne@sjconsult.com.au?subject=Nearshoring)
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Originally Published in the Sauce eNewsletter – theOutsourcing-Guide.com