If you’re thinking about using outsourcing as a way to scale your business, lower budgets and invest in what matters most, perhaps the most important part of the process will be how to choose your offshore provider. A BPO provider that, say, offers accounts payable or accounts receivable services or assists with Google ad campaigns or even a full-scale call center can make your life easier by taking the transactional work off your plate – so you can focus on growing your business.
All of that sounds great, but as many new to offshoring have found -- choosing the wrong BPO can have the opposite effect. Causing you to scrap systems for new ones, abandon your established process or worst of all -- redo the work yourself due to low quality.
This is such a fear for many mid-size businesses that they don't know if offshoring is the right choice. Luckily, none of these offshoring pitfalls are concerns when you choose an offshore provider that anticipates and exceeds your needs, aligns with your culture and becomes a true partner (over the course of decades). Don't worry, we are out there and ready to work with businesses just like yours. But while you weigh your options, follow our top tips on how to choose the best offshoring provider as a perfect fit for your business.
Look for a BPO with Experience & a U.S. Home Base
Nothing beats years of experience when working with an offshore provider. Choosing a company that boasts a positive track record of satisfied clients in your industry brings you the peace of mind and trust necessary to move forward. Focus not only on the length of their experience but also the breadth. Choosing an offshore provider that has been around for decades vs. just a few years means that in terms of client needs, they have seen it all and are ready to deliver. Those who are experienced, you may find, also are flexible and comfortable tailoring their programs and solutions to your actual needs instead of keeping to a rigid standard. Look for the following in terms of experience: Are they an expert in your chosen service? How have they approached quality over the years? How does this experience equate to real results for their clients (get examples)? And most importantly, In which ways will they apply this experience to your needs for a perfect fit?
Another consideration? Location, location, location. There are a lot of BPO companies headquartered overseas instead of right here in the U.S. And although overseas delivery centers bring countless benefits (cost savings high among them), having a U.S.-based leadership team at the helm of the operation is essential. Here's why: When working with your team offshore, it is immensely helpful to have a U.S.-based account manager who can serve as your go-to night and day.
For first-time outsourcers, learning how to choose an offshore provider might prove hard, especially because the new landscape can be a bit overwhelming. You are changing the way you do business and although it will definitely streamline your operations and bring peak efficiency, having a guide along the way who is used to working the way that you do can be a great bridge for your overseas team (especially when you are just getting started). This isn't to say that your rep's offshore counterparts are not also ready to help any time. We have just found that this one-on-one, white-glove service from top leadership in the U.S. can make all the difference for a perfect long-term relationship.
Don't Forget to Check Out Certifications, Awards & Affiliations
Make sure that the firm you choose is using best practices and is recognized by top groups in the industry. A team that is certified through Six Sigma and ISO has gone through extensive training and review to achieve these recognitions. Also, take a look at their industry partnerships in the countries where they work (such as NASSCOMM in India or CCAP in the Philippines). In order to retain membership is such groups, BPOs must consistently prove their use of best practices and commitment to quality while they receive auditors to their sites regularly (several times each year). With these certifications in place, there are no shortcuts for the participating BPO and you will see the results of this rigorous compliance right there in the work they provide, the talent they retain and the experience they offer.
What about the rest of the world? How is this company seen out there and what is their reputation? Before heading into any relationship, check out the company's news and awards sections on their website to see if they have been recognized by an objective third party. Do they have various company culture awards that prove they take of their people and only hire the best? Are they given regular awards by top governing bodies for their quality or giving back to the community? Although these are sometimes seen as exterior to the work a BPO provides, we think -- it is all part of one package that includes choosing a BPO that is not only a fit for your service needs but also a fit for your culture and values. And if you're looking for a long-term partnership, this is an important piece to the puzzle.
Recommendations Are Everything - So Ask Around
Whether it’s through word of mouth or online reviews, it’s important to understand the level of service you can come to expect from your potential provider. And nothing is better than a first-hand account. The best way to find out the true experience of their clients is from the past clients themselves. Look at Google, Clutch or Facebook reviews, or better yet, watch testimonial videos or download case studies while you're searching.
Once you have short-listed your best BPO providers (we'll get to that), ask your potential provider for references and make that call. Talking with a current client will give you the real deal on how they treat the relationship (should be with one-on-one attention), where they stand on quality (never second-best) and how well they treat their people (company culture is a key component essential to any BPO). These elements will clue you into what a day-to-day relationship might look like and what your next steps might be.
Shortlist Your Offshore Provider Favorites & Get on a Discovery Call
At this point, you have done the work. Called around for references, watched videos, read content and news releases and verified certifications. But, as we all know, internet research can only take you so far. After all the testimonials you've seen, content you've read and info you've downloaded, you will be left with a few outsourcers who stand out (congrats, you're almost there). Most likely, those who make your shortlist have a resource center that answers all your questions, an updated website with details on your preferred program and decades of experience with long-term client relationships. Price will inevitably be a factor as well and for many outsourcing relationships, you'll need to get on a call to iron out the details of your program.
Your offshore provider should be your partner in creating and implementing your strategy, so interviewing top leadership is a great way to find out if your cultures and goals are aligned. Ask them about various scenarios specific to your business to get an idea of how they will work with you on a regular basis. Talk about the talent pool, the metrics that will ensure success and your communication needs.
To get you started, here is a list of top questions to ask your prospective offshore partner:
How do you ensure quality when working on my program?
Will my team be dedicated just to me, or other clients as well?
What accolades and awards have you received from your people on how they are treated?
How do you measure success and what are your current customer satisfaction scores?
How much access will I have to my team?
How do you ensure a one-to-one relationship?
Will I have a U.S.-based account manager?
What makes you stand out from the competition?
Now you are ready to make a decision -- almost.
Meet Your Offshore Team & Check Out Their Facilities Before You Choose
After talking with your prospective provider to see how they can create a customized program for you, the final step (and most fun is our opinion) is meeting your incredible offshore team. Any provider worth choosing will invite you to get on a call with the leadership team in your overseas location so you feel 100 percent comfortable moving forward. Because while your dedicated U.S. account manager will be there every step of the way the people who will manage the day-to-day operations of your team will become an essential part of your success.
For many new clients, we offer to allow them to not only meet their new leadership team in our Manila, Philippines or various India locations but also -- be a part of the hiring process if they wish. When considering how to choose a new offshore provider, it also means choosing the top talent who will work on your program and seeing them first-hand. This will give you the control and comfort in how your work will be done.
Lastly, ask for a tour of the facilities, even if it is just a virtual one, so you can "see" where your team will sit and work on your projects every day. One of the misconceptions of outsourcing is that rows of cubicles in dim lighting offer much to be desired for offshore workers. Today -- nothing could be farther from the truth. Bright, modern offices with engaged teams who love to come to work is the new outsourcing norm (at least for us). But there is nothing better than seeing this for yourself. So whether it is through a video call to meet your leadership team, participation in interviews for your new onsite manager or a virtual tour of the facilities, make sure you get the "feel" of the BPO.
When top quality, amazing culture, incredible talent and flexible programs come together, you will know you've found your BPO partner for life, and that is how you choose an offshore provider.
Interested in learning more about Personiv? We'd love to listen to your needs. Contact Us.