Business Process Outsourcing, or BPO, can take on many forms. It’s a simple business concept that has gained tremendous traction in recent years. Estimates from the 2017 BPO Services Global Industry Almanac peg worldwide revenues for 2016 at $140 billion. That figure is expected to reach $163 billion by the end of 2021.
There are two main categories of BPO: front office and back office. Front office are “customer facing” services, such as sales and marketing, technical support, and billing. Back office are primarily administrative support services, such as payroll, accounting, and human resources.
Oversight Is the Key
Once a client has signed a performance contract to outsource a particular service, the contract must be managed. The terms, binding both parties, must be adhered to, schedules maintained, and goals met as defined in the agreement. Generally, the client will assign an individual or team as liaison to monitor the day-to-day activities of the BPO associate and maintain open lines of communication.
Back office contracts require less supervision than front office. Administrative support services are more easily monitored, as these functions tend to be more black and white. Back office specialists are generally professionals who know and understand the intricacies of their particular jobs.
Call Center Environments
Front office service contracts require more client involvement. Customers are the bread and butter of every business. Allowing BPO associates free rein in handling customer interactions can quickly become a problem for the client, unless they are properly trained and carefully and consistently monitored.
It’s important to remember, CSRs and other call center operatives serve two masters. The client will provide the initial and ongoing training to these associates and their center managers. This usually includes scripts and detailed procedure manuals.
Once the contract is initiated and standards set, both the client liaison and call center management teams will monitor the associates’ work for quality and compliance. Both parties will be responsible for continued training and support throughout the contract period.
Challenges for Offshore Accounts
BPO associates, regardless of their location, should always be considered part of their client’s team. This is more difficult when the associate is located in a different country. Here are a number of items to keep in mind when managing an offshore account:
- Time differences can make scheduling meetings and other communications difficult.
- Differences in language and culture will often require special training.
- Foreign workers expect to be treated with the same degree of consideration and respect as American workers regardless of their location and/or pay scale.
- Call center managers should be accorded the same status as their counterparts within the client company.
Regardless of their location, outsourced employees that are treated well, paid fairly, and managed consistently will be the most productive.