Large corporations with “follow the sun” customer service or organizations outsourcing to offshore suppliers must consider differences in national cultures when setting up shop abroad.
Many corporations have tried outsourcing to gain cost advantages in their back office, tech support, customer service and sales operations and have not been satisfied with the results.
The root cause of this disappointment has frequently been the choice of the country to outsource too. Different countries have different track records in various aspects of customer service operations. Some countries have people who have more success in technical support roles than in sales roles. Other countries have people who produce better results in sales teams than in technical support. It is often dangerous to generalize, but there are some regional cultures which appear to be better at problem solving than empathy, while others are better at connecting emotionally with customers but struggle when asked to solve multiple technical problems at the same time.
It seems common sense to pick your outsourcer to match your operational requirement. The reality is not always so easy. For example, you want to offshore your customer service operations. Country A has people who are very good at customer service, but there aren’t enough people who speak the customers’ language at a suitable level. This is a major consideration since it takes most people at least five years of study to reach an appropriate level in the target language. Another consideration is local average wages. Where a country has a working population that are good at customer service, but there aren’t many locals who speak the target language, this can price that location out of consideration.
At this point, many companies would then go for the local population that is not so good at customer service, but they do speak the language. They think they can train their staff to serve customers faster and cheaper than they can teach them the language. Outsourcers often train on the cheap, which means that there is a higher risk of delayed failure when the results come through after three to six months of operations.
One must also consider nearshoring vs offshoring. There are many benefits to be had. Countries like Czech Republic for example can offer multi-lingual services at a price point which still holds strong against inhouse expenses. Some benefits of nearshoring in Czech Republic can include:
- A member of the European Union
- Similar time zones
- Easier in terms of communication and business travel
- Booming economy and low unemployment rates making it a safe haven for experienced employees
- A better understanding of customer cultures and local trends
- Access to a wide array of European languages including (but not limited to) English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Czech, Slovak, and Polish.
There is no magic secret of success when offshoring. Overall do not believe the rumors, outsourcing can work, and it is possible to improve cost points as well as quality for your customers experience It is important however when weighing up the variables between cost and quality, that research is conducted in order to place the right work items, in the right location, with the right people. What will increase your chances of success is to work with someone who has experience in managing projects in your target area and skillset and can guide you through the maze of tradeoffs to get the right result.
Open questions & talking points?
- Have you tried setting up some of your business processes abroad? Is it working for you?
- How have improvements been made to your customers experience when outsourcing?
At Be All Ears, we specialize in supporting businesses to successfully overcome growth and operational challenges, driving change through employee & customer experience. Get in touch with us and see how we can best support you.