BPO, CallCenter, Contact Centre, Customer Servs, News, Outsourcing, theOutsourcing-guide

Success in outsourcing starts with the RFP

The road to engaging an outsourcing partner starts with the RFP (Request-For-Proposal). Many organisations have a structured and rigid approach to the RFP process, which from the very outset can limit the opportunities of developing a relationship based on innovation. It straight jackets providers by limiting what they can offer potential clients.

RFP is a detailed process where the services and requirements of a client organisation are documented and a range of potential vendors are then invited to bid for the contract.

It’s up to the potential vendors to demonstrate their capacity to provide the requested services, specifying time frames and costs. The client selects the winning bid based on  criteria that usually involves some combination of price, timeline, reputation and the proposed solution.

The process creates a standardised structure and approach for creating and analysing proposals. The problem that emerges as highlighted by outsourcing consultant Information Services Group, the traditional prescriptive RFP approach puts providers in a box, limiting what they can offer a potential client[i].

Clients can spend too much time focusing on service levels and price neglecting the broader scope and potential of the project. It’s a risk adverse protectionist approach which limits the possibility of forming a long-term relationship that adds value to both organisations.

Providers compete to deliver the best solution within a narrow framework. The RFP process is designed to allow for apples to apples comparison. However, it constrains innovation since the client has dictated the terms and scope of the solution.

Brian Pullen, director for Playground observes, “An over structured RFP document is often too specific about project details. This specificity discourages providerss from being creative and proposing better solutions to the core problem, as companies are often already sold on the solution in their RFP”[ii].

It may not even be in the provider’s best interest to highlight errors in the requested solution. The structured communication policy and strict rules in the submission process can make proposing new ideas a deal breaker.

ISG recommends, rather than dictating specific terms to be adhered to, clients should allow providers the flexibility to propose unique solutions. The relationship can then begin around fresh thinking and innovation.

[i] http://www.isg-one.com/knowledgecenter/whitepapers/private/papers/White_paper_-_RFS_Innovation.pdf.[ii] http://playgroundinc.com/blog/whats-wrong-with-the-rfp-and-how-to-fix-it/

Originally Published in the Sauce eNewsletter – theOutsourcing-Guide.com

theOutsourcing-guide.com is the ultimate reference guide for the BPO and outsourcing industries and it will become the most comprehensive resource for organisations looking to engage BPO and outsourcing providers. As well as providing a range of eBooks, articles and whitepapers explaining the various aspects of BPO, theOutsourcing-guide.com provides an online directory of providers segmented by category and location.

theOutsourcing-guide.com is a vehicle for vendors and service providers to showcase their organisations and the outsourcing services they provide. Visit theOutsourcing-guide.com for more information.

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BPO, Contact Centre, Customer Servs, Technology

Dawn of the cloud Robots

RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and the cloud are on a collision course. This collision will have a significant impact on the BPO and outsourcing industries. Originally aimed at automating the actions and processes associated with managing existing software applications and manipulating data, RPA offers significant benefits and opportunities as existing applications are transferred to the cloud.

In a recent article, Jeff Augustin, Managing Director of outsourcing consultancy Alsbridge, was quoted as saying, “Smart robots will increasingly operate in the cloud, and we’ll see a ‘labor-as-a-service’ approach emerge as clients and providers find that intelligent tools and virtual agents can be easily and flexibly hosted on cloud platforms,” Augustin says[i]. “This will build even more momentum and interest in autonomics.”

RPA software can automatically process transactions, manipulate data, trigger responses, and communicate with other systems as necessary. It eliminates the need for people to perform high-volume IT support, workflow, remote infrastructure, and back-office processes, such as those found in finance, accounting, supply chain management, customer service, and human resources.It has the ability to eliminate many of the data entry and back office tasks and activities currently being managed by BPO and outsourcing contracts.When you bring the cloud and BPaaS (Business Process as a Service) into the picture, the level of automation matched with the level of flexibility in managing capacity offers enterprises significant cost savings through improved efficiency.

The original value proposition BPO offered in terms of labour arbitrage, according to Russell Ives Accenture Australia’s Operations Lead,  is fast eroding as the aggressive application of automation reduces headcount across BPO programs.Ives states, “There are two significant implications here, firstly clients are expecting to see more than just labour arbitrage from their BPO provider, as they are looking for a partner who can work with them to apply automation improvements to both retained and outsourced functions – this is no longer optional”.

“Secondly it will change the economics of BPO programs.  Providers will need to recognise and manage for a much smaller tail in the latter years of programs when the impacts of automation have significantly reduced outsourced headcount. Additionally providers will need to identify news sources of value and work with their to clients to establish commercial structures that have the right economic balance between lower value automated processes and knowledge related processes performed by higher skilled agents”.

Be prepared. The robots are coming to the cloud.

[i] http://www.cio.com/article/2864429/outsourcing/10-outsourcing-trends-to-watch-in-2015.html

Originally Published in the Sauce eNewsletter – theOutsourcing-Guide.com

theOutsourcing-guide.com is the ultimate reference guide for the BPO and outsourcing industries and it will become the most comprehensive resource for organisations looking to engage BPO and outsourcing providers. As well as providing a range of eBooks, articles and whitepapers explaining the various aspects of BPO, theOutsourcing-guide.com provides an online directory of providers segmented by category and location.

theOutsourcing-guide.com is a vehicle for vendors and service providers to showcase their organisations and the outsourcing services they provide. Visit theOutsourcing-guide.com for more information.

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BPO, Customer Servs, Technology

Has BPaaS Finally Come of Age?

By Martin Conboy 

Businessman accessing modern social networking interfaceEnterprises across the globe are realising the need to embrace cloud technology. Thus, business processes are also being moved to the cloud because of the inflexible service delivery models of traditional BPO, and the old technologies that limit the effectiveness of business process outcomes.

As companies shift to SaaS, on premises – desktop software deployment is declining rapidly, expected to drop from 34 percent to 17 percent by 2017, according to Gartner. However, because of security concerns, organisations are increasing the adoption of private cloud more than public cloud. Experienced BPO providers are navigating this new reality, looking for opportunities to offer organisations BPaaS (Business Process as a Service), RPA and secure private cloud infrastructure.

BPaaS is any type of horizontal or vertical business process that’s delivered based on the cloud services model. It is a sourcing model where buyers receive standardised business process services on a pay-as-you-go basis by accessing a shared set of resources (people, application, and infrastructure) from a single provider. For example, a company may have a complex process for recruitment automation that it would outsource.

BPaaS services allow you to experiment with new business process ideas because they’re not based on programming each individual business initiative. For example, a packaged BPaaS offering that handles business travel processing or order-to-cash processes may be available, as well as other services that will handle load processing or payroll services, and predesigned services useful for everything from processing claims to managing clinical data for drug trials.

Strong market growth predicted

MarketsandMarkets forecasts the global BPaaS Market and Cloud BPM will be worth $7.12 billion in 2018. The key forces driving this market forward are the development of automated and software driven outsourcing, growing need for cost effective business processes and the market trend of employing cloud computing technology.

The research highlights that the adoption of these solutions has been relatively slow due to the cautious approach of senior management and compliance concerns. However, these solutions are now experiencing continual growth with expanding penetration across all major verticals.

Why BPaaS?

BPO’s traditional value proposition was the ability to reduce costs at the operational level through labour arbitrage. Buyers are increasingly evaluating operational, business application and technology infrastructure costs in a more integrated approach.

The difference between traditional packaged applications and BPaaS is that BPaaS is designed to be service-oriented. So, BPaaS is likely to have well-defined interfaces. In addition, a BPaaS is a standardised service for use by many different organizations. Because these services are much more optimized to deliver a service consistently, they can leverage automation, standardisation, and repeatability in the way the services are used and delivered.

BPaaS is radically different to traditional outsourcing models. BPaaS aims to integrate the value extracted from traditional labour arbitrage with the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) concept at the business application layer, and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) construct at the technology infrastructure layer in an integrated manner.

The growing demand for automation and virtualisation of workplace[i] makes these solutions very desirable, particularly for organisations with a global footprint.

BPaaS offers organisations increased agility of their business processes while keeping costs down. It provides organisations with access to critical technology and the service resources required to implement, deploy, train, and manage the critical technology without the huge capital expenditure.

The following characteristics define BPaaS:

  • The BPaaS sits on top of the other three foundational cloud services: SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS.
  • A BPaaS service is configurable based on the process being designed.
  • A BPaaS service must have well-defined APIs so it can be easily connected to related services.
  • A BPaaS must be able to support multiple languages and multiple deployment environments because a business cannot predict how a business process will be leveraged in the future.

A BPaaS environment must be able to handle massive scaling. The service must be able to go from managing a few processes for a couple of customers to being able to support hundreds if not thousands of customers and processes. The service accomplishes that objective by optimizing the underlying cloud services to support this type of elasticity and scaling.

Who’s who in BPaaS

Here’s a list of companies in this field and the business processes they deliver:

  • eBay: Provides an electronic auction service
  • PayPalProvides an Internet payment capability as a service
  • SkypeOwned by Microsoft, Skype provides Voice over IP (VoIP) telephone calls as a service, most of which are free
  • GoogleProvides an Internet search capability as a service
  • This service is free when you have access to the Internet. Google also provides an Internet e-mail service, Gmail. Google has quite a few other services, including maps, news aggregation, Google Apps, and so on.
  • YouTubeProvides video self-publishing as a service and was acquired by Google
  • Yahoo!Like Google, Yahoo! provides an Internet search service and e-mail service
  • MailChimp and Constant ContactProvide services for sending out online newsletters and marketing campaigns
  • CraigslistOffers small ads as a service
  • WordPressHosts blogs as a service
  • LinkedInOffers business contacts and networking as a service

Facebook and TwitterProvide social networking services that have a huge reach across the globe

[i] http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/PressReleases/business-process-as-a-service-bpaas.asp.

Originally Published in the Sauce eNewsletter – theOutsourcing-Guide.com

theOutsourcing-guide.com is the ultimate reference guide for the BPO and outsourcing industries and it will become the most comprehensive resource for organisations looking to engage BPO and outsourcing providers. As well as providing a range of eBooks, articles and whitepapers explaining the various aspects of BPO, theOutsourcing-guide.com provides an online directory of providers segmented by category and location.

theOutsourcing-guide.com is a vehicle for vendors and service providers to showcase their organisations and the outsourcing services they provide. Visit theOutsourcing-guide.com for more information.

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BPO, CallCenter, Contact Centre, Customer Servs, Human resources, News, theOutsourcing-guide

Let’s Work Together

By Martin Conboy

“Together we’ll stand
Divided we’ll fall
Come on now, people
Let’s get on the ball

And work together
Come on, come on
Let’s work together
Now, now people
Because together we will stand
Every boy, every girl and man

People, when things go wrong
As they sometimes will
And the road you travel
It stays all uphill “
Canned Heat

Canned Heat is an American blues band that formed in California in 1965.

Back then in the hippy era it was all about finding ways for people to collaborate with each other. It’s fundamental ethos — including harmony with nature, communal living, artistic experimentation particularly in music, spread around the world during the counter culture of the 1960s. A move away from the command and control environment of previous generations. The hippie movement has found historical precedents as far back as the Mazdakist movement in Persia that advocated communal living and the sharing of resources. In other words the movement grew because of a shared state of mind.

The world has moved on from those heady days however a lot of very valuable lessons were learnt. Fast forward to today and a key ingredient in building successful, innovative and strategic BPO relationships is collaboration. In other words, the ability for organisations to go beyond the typical vendor/client arrangement to work together for shared goals and objectives. If we want to change the status quo from the master/ slave relationships that largely exist in BPO relationships today we are going to need nothing short of a revolution in the way that we think and in the ways that BPO contracts are constructed.  Contracts cannot be so written that they give a disproportional level of power to one side or the other, as the dominant side may act arbitrarily in the absence of any constraints to the detriment of the other side.  We need to think of a contract more as a ‘living’ contract, in so much as it can be changed as required to make it work for all parties.

However for it to work it needs more structure that what was on offer during the hippy era. In part, this requires a governance model based on joint management structures and committees, but more importantly it requires the client and vendor to possess attitudes and behaviours that promote partnership and collaboration.

These days clients expect their provider to drive transformation and improve legacy processes, but, as Adam Cummins, Principal for Pace Harmon points out, letting go of old processes, approaches and perspectives and allowing the BPO provider to make changes to deliver improvements, efficiencies and savings can be a challenge[i].

The biggest challenge is that the client does not have the attitudes, behaviours or talent and skill sets necessary for collaboration. In all fairness these may also be lacking on the vendor side of things. Research[ii]from the London School of Economics and sponsored by Accenture, highlights that implementing joint operating, management, and executive committees, without having the right partnering attitudes and behaviours in place may inhibit rather than promote the success of a BPO relationship.

Governance structures are important, but the client must fully appreciate the provider as a strategic partner rather than as a vendor[iii]. A true partnership needs to display behaviours such as resolving conflicts fairly and protecting both parties’ commercial interests. Contract constructed around an adversarial approach usually only produce winners and losers, business environments change -likewise BPO relationships need the flexibility to meet shifting market demands and commercial realities. Thus contracts that allow for a team made up of executives from both sides to investigate the facts of a contract failure as opposed to an adversarial approach when one side wins may be worth considering.  After all a loser means that one side will have little or no interest in maintaining the contract.

Internal silos a barrier to collaboration

The inability for organisations to collaborate with a partner can stem from internal silos and reluctance to share information within the organisation. Client executives and leaders need to promote collaboration with their internal teams. Collaboration requires, first and foremost, a change in attitude and behaviour of people throughout the client organisation.

Client teams need to work with teams from the provider just as much as they need to work with other internal teams.

Trust and respect each other

Trust is the belief or confidence that one party has in the reliability, integrity and honesty of another party. It is the expectation that the faith one places in someone else will be honoured. The client and provider need to establish trust between their respective teams before they can effectively collaborate.

Teams that are suspicious or cynical of each other will not share information or collaborate effectively, and may even work to undermine each other.

Relationships develop and change over time. The ones that endure and stand the test of time are based on trust and  allow for a true collaborative approach rather than one that gets bogged down in the governance structures imposed by a contract.

Originally Published in the Sauce eNewsletter – theOutsourcing-Guide.com


theOutsourcing-guide.com
 is the ultimate reference guide for the BPO and outsourcing industries and it will become the most comprehensive resource for organisations looking to engage BPO and outsourcing providers. As well as providing a range of eBooks, articles and whitepapers explaining the various aspects of BPO, theOutsourcing-guide.com provides an online directory of providers segmented by category and location.

theOutsourcing-guide.com is a vehicle for vendors and service providers to showcase their organisations and the outsourcing services they provide. Visit theOutsourcing-guide.com for more information.

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BPO, CallCenter, Customer service, Customer Servs, Social Media

The social dimension of customer relationships III

By Mark Atterby

Social CRM is about generating conversations and dialogue with prospects to build higher value customer relationships. That’s higher value for the customer as well as the organisation. Social media is not simply a vehicle to push out content and your messaging, but a mechanism to receive feedback from customers that can be analysed and used to improve customer strategies.

Social CRM, when implemented properly, allows you to understand what is important to your prospects and customers and what influences their buying decisions. Customers annoyed or frustrated with poor service will vent their displeasure on social media. Making their grievances public and sharing them with their network allows them to finally be heard.  One poor experience can affect the reputation of the organisation with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of others.

In building you Social CRM strategy, don’t get too caught up with the technology. Technology is important, you will need it to automate as many processes as you can. But the most important thing to consider is the goals you want to achieve and defining the processes.

How do you turn a conversation into a customer

There are numerous approaches to Social CRM you can deploy depending on the nature of your business and customers. Regardless of what specific strategies you implement, one thing is for certain, you will need to allocate and train dedicated staff or contact centre teams to be Social CRM specialists.

The key social media activity where CRM intersects is with listening and monitoring conversations. There is a lot of noise created through social media. Sifting through this deluge and identifying the right voice and conversations to respond to, is one of the top challenges.

Your social media agents will need to listen, monitor and filter relevant conversations about the brand and its customers. They then need to assess whether a response is required and if a response is required does that need to be included in a CRM workflow i.e. are they responding to a customer or potential prospect.

If people are complaining about a product or service than you can safely assume they are a customer and the conversation needs to be tracked in a CRM system for later reference and analysis. The difficulty becomes that the name they use on their social media accounts may not directly correlated with the information you have stored as a customer.

Or if there is a conversation where someone is asking for an opinion about a product or service, this is likely to become a lead or sales opportunity. Organisations need to listen very keenly to differentiate and prioritise various conversations.

There are a plethora of tools on the market to help organisations monitor their social media interactions, but it’s about building the skills and processes to utilise them effectively that presents the greatest challenge.

That’s why one of the biggest growth areas for BPO providers in recent years has been social media monitoring and listening, and integrating these activities with other customer channels and CRM systems.

Originally Published in the Sauce eNewsletter – theOutsourcing-Guide.com

theOutsourcing-guide.com is the ultimate reference guide for the BPO and outsourcing industries and it will become the most comprehensive resource for organisations looking to engage BPO and outsourcing providers. As well as providing a range of eBooks, articles and whitepapers explaining the various aspects of BPO, theOutsourcing-guide.com provides an online directory of providers segmented by category and location.

theOutsourcing-guide.com is a vehicle for vendors and service providers to showcase their organisations and the outsourcing services they provide. Visit theOutsourcing-guide.com for more information.

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Customer Servs, Social Media

The social dimension of customer relationships – Part I

By Mark Atterby

social-crmSocial Media and marketing automation are redefining the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) landscape, blurring the functional lines between sales, marketing and customer service. Each social media interaction, positive or negative, has the potential to be magnified across a network of connected people. In recent years a new term has emerged – Social CRM.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) emerged in the nineties to describe a business philosophy and a range of software applications to automate front office functions across sales, marketing and customer service.

The term CRM has generated considerable confusion in the past and generated countless definitions, being used to cover a range of things including sales force automation, database marketing, telemarketing, lead generation help desk. Essentially it involved any interaction with a customer that utilised a computerised system to store information about that customer and their interaction with the organisation.

This information could then be used to automate the processes needed to market to, sell to and service customers, as well as being used to understand customer behaviour and preferences. The problem with most of the systems implemented was that they were designed around the objectives of the company not the needs and preferences of customers.

Two way conversations with customers

Social Media is redefining the way companies interact with their customers. This shift from mass media marketing to brands engaging consumers in meaningful dialogue is empowering consumers.  Social media not only allows organisations to delight customers with a positive experience it can also significantly reduce the cost of each interaction[i]. According to Gartner social agents are able to handle four to eight times as many issues per hour as a phone agent.

The public nature of social media means that each successful interaction has the potential to be magnified into a peer-to-peer recommendation. According to research from NM Incite, consumers who have a positive social customer care experience are nearly three times more likely to recommend a brand than those who don’t[ii].

Social CRM involves extending the concepts behind CRM and developing new tools and techniques to address the challenges and opportunities being delivered by social media. Paul Greenberg defines Social CRM as[iii]:

Social CRM is a philosophy and a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes and social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted and transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.

As opposed to traditional CRM the main focus in Social CRM is the customer and how to give them experiences that add value. Instead of brands pushing out marketing messages to customers, Social CRM is where brands talk to and collaborate with customers to solve business problems. It’s about empowering customers to shape their own experiences and allowing them to define the nature of the relationship they have with the brand.

This is part of a three part series. In part II that will appear in next week’s version of The Sauce we take a close look at the specific tools and techniques organisation are using to engage their customers.

[i] http://www.conversocial.com/social-customer-service

[ii] http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2012/social-media-report-2012-social-media-comes-of-age.html.

[iii] http://the56group.typepad.com/pgreenblog/2009/07/time-to-put-a-stake-in-the-ground-on-social-crm.html

theOutsourcing-guide.com is the ultimate reference guide for the BPO and outsourcing industries and it will become the most comprehensive resource for organisations looking to engage BPO and outsourcing providers. As well as providing a range of eBooks, articles and whitepapers explaining the various aspects of BPO, theOutsourcing-guide.com provides an online directory of providers segmented by category and location.

theOutsourcing-guide.com is a vehicle for vendors and service providers to showcase their organisations and the outsourcing services they provide. Visit theOutsourcing-guide.com for more information.

Originally Published in the Sauce eNewsletter – theOutsourcing-Guide.com

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