How BPO providers manage more than just call centers

From the early ’90s until recently, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) providers were synonymous with call center management. This has led to many thinking that this is all BPO providers can do.

However, in reality–there are a range of functions that BPO providers can manage.

These often include:

But what does this look like?

Take technology access and IT administration as an example. A business could enter into a contract with the BPO provider who could provide access to technology or technology talent.

This would free the business from having to shoulder the costs of hiring full-time staff, of maintaining and updating the technologies, and making sure their use of them remains compliant.

This outsourcing would also give them access to the insight and strategic advice of a business whose core function is technology.

When it comes to the benefits of working with a BPO provider, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Want to learn more? Dive into the full advantages and disadvantages of working with BPOs

Why BPO providers are about much more than call centers

Before we dive into the many critical business functions that BPO providers perform, let’s take a closer look at BPO services for call centers.

Traditional BPO for call centers

In the past, outsourcing your customer service department to a BPO provider was typically seen purely as a cost-cutting exercise.

As such, BPO partners were often picked on a cheapest-first basis. The call centers run by such BPO providers typically experienced a very high-turnover of staff and the overall quality of service was inconsistent. 

How has BPO for call centers changed?

The “cheapest first” approach to contracting BPO providers had to change to keep up with the increased importance of customer satisfaction in brand loyalty.

Customers’ expectations have risen in just about every sector–and every possible way–imaginable. Case in point: 73% of US consumers expect consistent interactions across departments, according to research from Salesforce.

This has meant that BPO providers who run call centers have to keep customer satisfaction in focus at all times. This means prioritizing agent excellence.

Which in turn means ensuring that agents are well trained and engaged, supported with the latest technologies, and empowered to solve problems on their own. Agent excellence and agent support also lead to agent retention, an essential ingredient to high quality customer service.

BPO for call center evolution and customer experience

This evolution has led to BPO providers managing another crucial business function, customer experience (CX). The quality of CX that your business delivers will dictate how competitive it can be.

Unconvinced on the importance of CX? There are two statistics to be aware of:

CX BPO providers go beyond the use of elite customer service and support agents by helping businesses develop comprehensive CX programs.

These include: strategic advice, orchestration of seamless customer journeys across different channels, implementation of data-led performance tracking, the implementation of wider technology solutions that contribute to CX (such as chatbots and smart call routing), and the design of self-service customer resources.

As such, BPO partners were often picked on a cheapest-first basis. The call centers run by such BPO providers typically experienced a very high-turnover of staff and the overall quality of service was inconsistent. 

How can BPO providers help specific business sectors?

The most effective BPO providers operate within a select number of target verticals.

For example, Ubiquity’s expertise covers financial services, healthcare, crypto & NFT, retail & eCommerce, utilities, insurance, logistics and shipping, and office administration.

Each of these sectors requires specific considerations that need to be catered to:

  • BPO providers for the financial industry (including the finserv and fintech worlds) help businesses navigate financial legislation, compliance standards, as well as ever-evolving customer expectations.
  • BPO providers for the crypto and NFT industry can help businesses lower their risk and minimize their losses. They can also help with customer disputes resolution and crucially enable quicker and more efficient resolution of fraud claims.
  • BPO providers for the health and healthcare industry can help businesses simplify their processes. This enables them to remove bottlenecks in their operations and lower their administrative overheads. BPO providers can also take care of back office concerns such as third-party billing inquiries, revenue cycle management, and data entry.
  • BPO providers for the retail and e-commerce industry can help businesses increase service levels and reduce error rates. Some of the functions BPO providers can also help manage include: data annotation and management, customer analytics, returns processing, content moderation, customer research, competitive assessments, and IT staff augmentation

How else can BPO providers help businesses grow?

BPO providers today help businesses manage much more than call centers.

Below is a snapshot of some the key industry-agnostic functions that BPO providers also frequently deliver:

  • HR: BPO partners manage payroll and tax administration, benefits administration, recruitment, and training.
  • Technology access and IT administration: Working with a BPO partner, a business has access to top tech talent and the latest technology without having to incur the cost of hiring, of maintaining and updating that technology, or ensuring their use of it remains compliant.
  • Business process transformation, growth, and scaling: Businesses work with BPO partners to help deliver transformation initiatives and even scale their operations.

What are the best characteristics of a BPO Provider?

There’s no shortage of BPO providers, so it pays to exercise caution when narrowing down your options. First up, there are some key questions you need to ask: What’s your budget? What’s your timeline? Which BPO providers cover your needs? What type of BPO relationship are you looking for?

If you want more details on these questions, jump to our page on how BPO works .

But once you have these squared away, there are some key characteristics that define a great BPO partner.

Relationship-based

BPO providers with a transactional approach compete mainly on price but offer very little in the way of performance enhancement or CX. Working with a BPO provider with a relationship-based approach enables you to develop the kind of customer intimacy that informs smarter strategic decisions.

Instant and creative problem solving

A great BPO provider works proactively to seek out new opportunities and solve customer problems.

Great communication skills

To be successful in these areas, you need a BPO provider with great communication skills. Do they offer you a dedicated point of contact that manages your account? If not, be wary.

Quick and effective

The best BPO providers strike the balance between deep relationship building and rapid acceleration towards business goals. Look for statistical proof that they’ve not only helped other businesses in your situation increase performance but also maintained a nurturing relationship throughout the process.

Culture and work quality

How does the BPO provider approach the outsourcing process? Do they care about quality and look after their people? A great indication of this for front office functions will be the extent to which they nurture passionate, empowered calling agents that go the extra mile.

Value for money

You should not pick a BPO partner on a cheapest-first basis. No ifs, no buts. When it comes to value for money, look at the return on your outsourcing spend you’re likely to get. A great way to establish this is to find a BPO provider that advocates for the use of data-led performance tracking and has a track record of positive impact.

Expansion potential

Businesses can benefit the most from BPO providers that help them increase business agility, increase your ability to scale, and grow, learn and adapt with you. If you want to find out more about this, check out our page on how a BPO provider can help you Scale Fearlessly.