By Megan Porter, SVP, Learning Services
As a scaleup, you’re likely arriving at an exciting inflection point in your growth journey. Your client base is swelling beyond your internal means, and the time has come to outsource your customer care.
But while partnering with a business process outsourcer (BPO) is often a natural next step, it can still be a daunting process—particularly if it’s your first time outsourcing customer experience (CX). Put simply, can you trust someone else with your current and future customers?
Part of that uncertainty lies on the operational side—what a new partnership means for you and your team. But maybe even more significantly than that is the human aspect—how do you assess the quality of the people on the front lines interacting with your customers on a daily basis?
The feeling’s amplified if you’re opening up into new markets or geographies where your brand has yet to secure a foothold. But there are indicators that can give you a much clearer understanding of the caliber of people within a prospective BPO.
Here’s what you should expect from customer service agents who can execute quality CX at scale.
Scaleups need agents who are passionate about doing a good job, have the freedom to bring their ideas to the table, and take ownership of their role in representing your brand.
You’ve been on the receiving end of robotic, lifeless, and insipid customer service calls (and you probably remember them, too). That’s why the best BPOs hire and train agents to think like industry practitioners.
One way to tell if an outsourcer gives their agents real flexibility is their attitude toward scripting. Like anything, scripts can be valuable in moderation—a framework to help agents resolve relatively simple customer requests quickly and with minimal fuss.
However, agents that can only interact with customers with the help of a script are trapped in a box. It saps their personalities, stops them thinking independently if and when a call goes off script, and limits their versatility in unexpected situations.
Agents should be comfortable being their own person and really listening to customers, freeing them to deliver more authentic, empathetic experiences. The best BPOs recruit for personality as much as competence.
Scaleups need agents who are passionate about doing a good job, have the freedom to bring their ideas to the table, and take ownership of their role in representing your brand. The best agents have, well, agency. But agency that’s truly effective, empathetic, and valuable stems from something equally important …
They’re constantly developing
BPOs that care about agents invest in their ongoing development—not only with one-to-one coaching and team collaboration, but also courses that help them grow in their roles or ready them for further responsibility.
Agents can choose courses that expand their skill sets (Excel training or presenting 101) and encourage further development (leadership and management fundamentals).
Beyond individual improvement, BPOs should also dedicate time to reflect on performance:
Agents should listen to calls together, openly discuss what went well and what didn’t, and problem-solve together to level up everyone’s performance in a way that’s more memorable than an hour-long lecture.
A BPO should also include you in this process: Regular call listening calibration sessions can ensure you and your outsourcer stay aligned, troubleshoot process or knowledge gaps, and gain frontline insight into more ways to optimize your CX.
These practices, combined with more traditional performance metrics like call handling, professionalism, and compliance, lead to a more inclusive, communicative, and trusting internal CX ecosystem.
Life moves fast in a scaleup. Agility and fast fixes are the norm: You need an environment where self-reflection is encouraged and feedback is welcomed. And when your BPO cultivates this kind of environment, something different (and awesome) starts to happen.
Agents drive process improvements
All too often, process and operational decisions are made and implemented from on high. But in people-first outsourcers, the balance is split between key decision makers and those on the front lines.
Why? Because independent and engaged agents are incentivized to address kinks in the CX process, and confident enough to speak up when those issues emerge. You’ll have a virtuous circle of agents that self-optimize, and work with senior management to iterate toward the best possible CX solution.
If a program is implemented and struggles in the real world, or agents bring another option to the table, your BPO should engage in a conversation around next steps. A flat, holistic structure gives agents more responsibility and ownership over how they serve your customers.
As you grow, processes will inevitably become unfit for purpose and need replacing. What better people to influence new practices than the ones who’ll use them? Figure out if your BPO has this give-and-take approach to agent and management input—you won’t regret it.
Your BPO’s culture directly impacts your customer experience and bottom line. Now you know what to look for in your next partner, check out our approach to empowering problem-solving agents that revel in a scaleup environment.
Megan Porter spearheads training, quality assurance, and employee development programs across Ubiquity’s entire client portfolio and geographic footprint. She has been instrumental in developing Ubiquity’s Leadership Essentials course, which all Ubiquity managers take.