The global market economy has endured war, depression, humanitarian crises, political uncertainty, heavy-handed legislation, and health pandemics. Yet, select business leaders have gone beyond mere survival and will continue to thrive. How?
Pioneers in their respective industries- be it energy, utilities, transportation, manufacturing, or commercial retail to name a few- have intentionally set their revenue streams on a trajectory of growth by investing in key strategies specific to their unique goals.
Whether the goal is to sharpen a competitive edge, expand margins, streamline operations or just multiply cost efficiencies, more often than not the strategy falls in the realm of business process outsourcing (“BPO”). Right now, a lot of business-to-business service and product providers are looking into BPO to safeguard their current operation from future damage, rectify the losses they’ve already experienced in 2020, and identify opportunities to come back stronger than before.
Essentially, BPO is how companies can optimize their resources to driver greater profitability at both an immediate and a long-term, sustainable rate. While there isn’t a one-size-fits all solution, the right partner will play a major role in whether or not this venture is successful for you.
So, we’ve asked our experts, what are the top factors that executives absolutely must consider when seeking out and vetting prospective BPO partners? Here’s what they had to say:
- Business continuity and strength as a partner amid uncertainty
Trust in a BPO relationship includes having confidence that your partner will keep your business at the top of their priority list – despite what happens around them. How quickly can they help your company scale with parallel volume fluctuation of your inbound orders or requests? Do they have the right resources, local relationships and talent pool to assist quickly in unforeseen circumstances?
At the end of the day, it’s important to know that they’re going to follow through as an extension of your team. Ask for a copy of their business continuity plan and examples of if/when they may have had to implement it in the past during your RFP process. In the same effort, request references who can speak to their communication patterns during a business continuity phase. If the BPO provider doesn’t deliver transparency, are they really a “true partners”, or just another service vendor offering unfulfilled promises? Clear, consistent, timely and frequent communication is vital in any relationship, even more so in the ever evolving and seemingly unpredictable freight market.
- Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that have a profound positive impact in your business
Look for a partner with proven experience in your industry and expertise in your process of concern to get you through uncharted waters.
Fundamentally, SLAs are contractual promises, but here are some key components that our experts advise you ensure are kept in mind as the SLAs are decided:
- Increased visibility: Communications cadence and reporting so that you can make better business decisions, faster.
- Astounding accuracy rates: Agree on quality metrics that reflect your own customer service aspirations (you may even want to consider an incentivized program for them to exceed accuracy rate SLA).
- Robust and reliable data protection: Confirm their service is delivered in a secure network infrastructure that will protect your and your customers’ information.
- Impressive processing speed and service hours: Ensure the turnaround time and shift schedule makes the most sense for your business model.
- Cost containment pricing: Opt for a pricing structure that does not penalize you for growth but safeguards you from market dips. Secure a long-term agreement that will shield you against unforeseen circumstances.
The right partner will work with you to ease any fears or hesitations you may have by ensuring your business goals are reflected in your SLAs. If the ones you are speaking with now are not doing this- keep looking.
- Strategic application of smart technology to streamline client processes
Discussion around innovation is exciting. In fact, DDC’s own Global Director of Technology has presented at industry educational events about hype cycles and how to hold buzzwords accountable. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the new tools and products filling up the market right now. Your BPO partner should take some responsibility in this arena.
Don’t ever implement new technology just for the sake of it. You should only invest in solutions that will equip you with a smarter, stronger, and a more strategic back office – and your BPO provider should be guiding you.
If it’s time for you to modernize your operations, it’s important that your BPO partner remains current in the right technology for your business and knows how to innovate wisely. A good sign: A BPO with an in-house tech advantage. If they don’t sell their technology as products, that’s fine, but if they have a track record of developing programs in-house to make their own processes for clients more efficient, then they can do that for you (often times, in a hyper-customizable model).
- An experienced team behind the technology/BPO solution that is dedicated to you
Stick with a vendor that is a true expert in the function you’re looking to outsource. Do your research by addressing the following:
- Ask what their existing clients say about working with them.
- Don’t be afraid to vet their referrals and industry sources.
- Do they truly understand the freight industry, your mode(s), and your business model? Do they know and can they fully support your business goals?
- Prioritize flexibility and customizability. Can their capabilities, capacities and functionalities adapt for you?
- Can their KPIs be aligned with yours?
- How many years of experience do that have? Don’t settle for a rookie. If you’re going to invest in this, make sure they know what they are doing. A good threshold is industry specialization for a minimum of 10 years.
An experienced and dedicated team will work around-the-clock as an extension of your company so that you can focus on what matters most, but it’s up to you to take the time to research and identify a partner that leverages the best blend of people, processes and cutting-edge technology to fuel growth for you.
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