For obvious reasons, companies in highly developed economies outsource some of their business functions to countries like the Philippines to save on costs particularly on human resources. The need to achieve improved profitability and thus satisfy investors’ expectations have led companies to outsource repeatable and non-core tasks to service providers offshore. For the most part, many of this outsourcing initiatives have succeeded and helped companies achieve their savings targets.
However, it seems that the more successful an outsourcing initiative becomes, the more its toll to the other side of outsourcing – the human side. Business process outsourcing focuses more on processes, which involves performance and statistical targets to be achieved by the service provider which is delivered by their personnel. Anyone not being able to meet that target is being “released” from the project and is simply replaced by another pre-qualified staff. And this is where most outsourcing projects fail – on the human side.
Many executives from outsourcing companies seem to forget that at other end of the process spectrum are real people who are doing the job – taking calls from irate customers, meeting the required average call handling time, calling the required number of customers on a shift and making sure all entered customer data are accurate. All of these also mean toiling on the night shift while everybody else is sleeping – which is the most difficult part for those who are working in the Philippines serving the North American market.
As these outsourced services are delivered by humans who have dreams, emotions and values, really succeeding in the outsourcing project also means helping these people succeed in their jobs (which by the way is a chosen career for most of them already). So how do you succeed in the human side of outsourcing? Let us give you a few (not exhaustive) recommendations:
- Know Your Staff – by their real and first names. Make sure you get to interview each and every one of them before they start in your project or campaign. Ensure that your service provider allows you direct access to your staff anytime.
- Clearly Define Expectations – other than the goals set forth by the service provider for the staff they assign to your project, the team should know and understand clearly their mandate and what is expected of them – not just number but tangible results;
- Make Your Outsourced Staff Feel Like They Are Really A Part Of Your Team
– Let them know who they are really working with (this involves regular meeting and periodic onsite meetings) – Let them adopt into the company culture
– Keep them in the loop of your company’s bulletins
– Extend your staff benefits to them
– Make sure your service provider allows you active participation on the career management of the Staff assigned to you
- Provide Opportunity for Career Growth – that their job in your company is not a dead-end job. It helps them to know they can have a career path within the team even as an outsourced staff.
- Provide Incentives – on top of what the service company extends to them. This gives them more motivation and makes their job more exciting.
- Give Your Meetings A Personal Touch – at least make it a video call (some clients won’t even show their faces on a con call!). Where possible, make a visit to your facilities an incentive to those who may have completed at least a year of service. And as much as possible, make it a point to visit your offshore staff in country so that you will also have a better understanding and appreciation of the environment where they are operating from
- Do Not Forget Those Little Things (especially birthdays!) – these would help foster loyalty! (One company sends food to the Staff’s house during birthdays.)
- Help Them Succeed At Work – give them a chance to grow. If they do not achieve the performance target the first time, do not just replace them. Instead, see if it is still possible to train them and give them a chance to improve.
These recommendations should help you think of more creative ways to make your outsourcing project succeed keeping in mind the people who are actually delivering the services from this side of the world. After all, many of them may be the first or the only person your clients get to talk to, especially if you are outsourcing customer services. You will want this people to able to represent your company well, wouldn’t you?