Chris Cullen, Echo’s Head of Sales and Marketing, pops by to discuss why businesses will be using outsourcing in 2016 to improve performance, and the top three trends to note for the year ahead…
Mention the word outsourcing in years past, and the perception may well have been fairly negative. But I’m happy to say that perceptions are quite rightly changing and an increasing number of businesses are choosing outsourcing as a key strategy to improve performance.
Did you know that in 2013, 3.3 million people were employed in the UK outsourcing sector? To put that in perspective, that’s around 10% of the entire UK workforce. What’s more, the industry continues to grow and in the third quarter of 2015, outsourcing contracts worth £2.3 billion were signed, up almost 70 per cent compared to 2014.
So why is outsourcing becoming more popular? Well, austerity is certainly a key factor in recent times. Outsourcing gives companies the flexibility to scale operations up cost-effectively. Businesses can gain access to both the newest technologies and specialist, experienced teams, thereby benefiting from proven and best practice expertise without increasing overheads. Finally, it frees up in-house time and resource, leaving businesses to focus on their core purpose.
With outsourcing growing, here are some key trends in 2016 to look out for…
1. Outsourcing to cope with change
Agility and flexibility are crucial in today’s fast paced business world. Keeping up with evolving customer expectations and coping with seasonal demand, by scaling operations up and down quickly and cost effectively, will only continue to grow in importance in 2016.
Although seasonal peaks maybe short lived, it’s vital that companies have the right level and quality of resource in place to cope with surges in demand to avoid falling customer satisfaction and a loss of customer loyalty. Outsourcing can really help here.
Take, for example the retail sector. Demand surges often cause website issues due to traffic volumes. This can result in an influx of frustrated customer calls. Appointing an outsourced contact centre provider can help manage the situation. Many outsourcers will also offer 24/7 services, helping you respond quickly and effectively to customers in and out of standard office hours.
2. Evolving Technology
The world continues to become increasingly digital. New technologies are developed and introduced at an ever intensifying pace. Technology is without doubt playing an important role in business, and outsourcing allows companies to access the latest tools without in-house investment.
Whilst it’s often easy to deploy technology to pick up workload, it’s crucial we don’t forget the importance of the human touch. There is continuing evidence that customer satisfaction can be a key differentiator, driving buying behaviour and business performance. Outsourcing customer contact, for example, can improve customer experience, but ensure your chosen outsourcer guides you to find the right balance between the speed and convenience of self-serve channels and the value that customers continue to place on the human touch.
For complex, sensitive or emotional enquiries, human interaction really adds value and can lead to higher customer satisfaction rates. Removing the option of face to face or telephone contact can frustrate customers. Understand your customer contact channel preferences and maintain consistency of experience across all channels offered. This is imperative.
3. Outsourcers – a true extension of your business
If you’ve decided to outsource, choosing the right partner will be absolutely critical in 2016. Make the wrong choice and not only could business performance suffer, but your valued customer relationships and brand could also be at risk.
Never select a partner based on price alone. It’s vital that your partner brings innovation and new ideas to the table and that they are true specialists in their field of expertise. In 2016, I believe the selection process will become much more considered, not only to alleviate the risks but to bring true added value to the organisation; great customer experiences, a positive return on investment and scalability are just a few examples.
An outsourcer will represent your brand, and in some circumstances be in direct contact with your customers. That’s why they must be a true extension of your organisation, protecting your customer relationships and brand as if they were their own. The importance of building a mutually beneficial partnership cannot be underestimated.
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