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5 Key Considerations For Selecting The Best BPO Partner For Your Brand

What To Look For And What To Avoid In Your BPO Partner Selection

PwC research shows that 32% of customers will walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience. For hypergrowth brands, this can be a challenge - executing effective CX takes a high degree of strategy and focus, most of which you’re actively investing in your product. 

As companies scale, they often turn to Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) partners. There are several benefits for brands that partner with BPO companies. It can save CX leaders time and money and, in turn, enhance the customer experience. You’ll also be able to tap the extensive CX experience of the BPO’s leadership team -- they’ve got the industry experience of working with not just one organization, but all of their clients, as well, which can be an invaluable asset as you build your CX program and look for new ways to improve.

However, as demand in the BPO market continues to surge (it’s predicted to grow by $105.5 billion by 2024), the number of outsourcers will keep increasing. This makes the challenge to cut through the noise to find the best BPO partner that is the best-fit for your brand that much harder. 

You might worry about the repercussions of making the wrong choice when it comes to choosing the best BPO partner. In a crowded market, weeding through your options is no easy task. If your BPO partner is not aligned to your brand and values, or doesn’t boast the right capabilities, it can wreak havoc on your entire CX operation, business growth, and revenue. But fret not: whether you are approaching hypergrowth, expanding your products/services, trying to penetrate a new global market, or just re-evaluating the ROI of your current partners, this guide will outline key considerations to keep in mind on your search for the best BPO partner for your brand.

best bpo

1. Find a BPO That Understands Your Niche

It sounds obvious, but one of the most critical pieces to selecting the best BPO is to find a company that offers what you need for your unique brand and the customers you serve. As you begin to search for potential partners, keep in mind the key differentiators of your business, industry and brand specific pain points, customer personas, and journeys, and what gaps you need to fill. Before you even engage with a potential BPO and start the RFP process, answer these questions about each potential partner:

  • Do they have expertise in my brand’s specific industry? How much?
  • Do they have any areas of focus or specialization? 
  • Do they serve any of my competitors? Have they left any testimonials?
  • What locations do they operate contact centers or deploy agents from? Do they operate in the time zones necessary to provide 24/7/365 support to your customers?

While you will provide the background information, customer data, and brand guidelines needed for any BPO to get started, it is vital to engage a partner who understands your industry and is already working with brands like yours. You don’t want your brand to be the guinea pig for a BPO expanding into a new industry. It is absolutely critical to confirm that a BPO is equipped with the right expertise and experience before you even begin the process with them. You will also want to consider their location options if you have already decided on an onshore, nearshore, or offshore delivery model, or you have a specific geography in mind. Be sure to ask for references from the markets you want to enter, particularly if it is a new location for your brand.   

Once you know that a shortlist of outsourcers has what you need on a basic level, you can begin the RFP process and ask more in-depth questions to help narrow it down to the best BPO for your brand. Beyond industry expertise, the most critical considerations include:

  • Robust digital support. You need to be wherever your customers are. More likely than not, your customers utilize digital channels most frequently. Be sure that any potential partner has established full service support across all channels -- including social media, email, SMS, and live chat. 
  • The profile of their agent workforce. Consider the makeup of your customer base and your brand’s specific needs. Are you trying to penetrate a new geography that they are established in? Is their workforce diverse in the languages they speak and the geographies they represent? Do they have digitally-native agents? Do they have a mix of in-center and @Home agents? All of these considerations are important to ensure a well-rounded contact center that delivers new ideas and exceptional, frictionless experiences around the clock.
  • Technology offerings. This might be one of the most important considerations in your choice for a partner. Do they offer in-house technologies used to more effectively recruit, train, coach, and track agents or provide better, faster, more streamlined customer support? Do they have technology partnerships in place to integrate common programs or fill in the gaps? 
  • Flexibility. Plans change. Sometimes the unexpected happens, and it’s out of your control.You want a partner who can grow with you, and shift quickly when necessary. Is this partner poised to scale up or down based on seasonal ramps and burst capacity? Do they have plans in place for when these quick changes need to happen? Are they able to adjust and scale again as your business grows or priorities shift?
  • Security. Onshore, nearshore, and offshore outsourcing all come with their own risks. However, with the right partner and the right security measures in place, you can hedge the risks that come with offshoring your CX. Ask any potential partner about their risk management protocols. 

The answers to these key questions will give you a good picture of how a BPO operates, and if they meet the most fundamental needs to keep your CX program thriving. Delve deeper into these key areas by reading further.

2. Don’t Overlook Culture

You’ve worked hard at creating a compelling culture for your brand. The best BPO for you should act as an extension of the brand you’ve built. Consider the type of people you want to work with, and the experience you want your agents to have. The right partner will have a culture and values that align with yours. Consider the following from a culture perspective:

  • Is the partner able to create an immersive, branded environment for contact center agents working on your brand?
  • What is the quality of the contact center environment? Do agents have what they need to be productive? Do they feel safe and valued?
  • Does the partner have any diversity and inclusion initiatives? Does their DE&I align with your brand’s?
  • How do they incentivize and reward agents?
  • What is their eNPS score? Are agents happy at work? What is turnover like? Do they have a plan in place to improve their eNPS? How do they plan to retain agents? 

You should ask the above questions, but also keep these considerations in mind during site visits or virtual tours  so you can see these conditions and team morale for yourself.

Also consider that part of any trusted partner’s culture should be one of transparency. Transparency and communication is essential, particularly when handing over control of part of your CX operations to a third party. Two-way communication builds a transparent, trusting, and productive relationship. During the selection process:

  • Ask potential partners how they typically communicate with clients, including tools used and cadence
  • Level-set your expectations for communications, including tools used, cadence, and what issues need to be brought to the in-house CX team’s attention immediately

best bpo

3. Keep BPO-Related Costs In Perspective

Cost is essential -- but you have to look at the whole picture. CX leaders are often looking to save money by bringing on a BPO partner. You’ll likely have budgetary restrictions. Though it’s important to work with a partner who aligns with your company’s budget, steer clear of choosing the cheapest option based on costs alone. Ultimately, the value the partner provides to your brand is essential—a low-cost company that does not deliver a top-notch service will cause a loss in customers and revenue. Balance the need to stay within budget with the quality of service.

When you need to get executive buy-in, or you need to justify going with a partner that costs a bit more, keep in mind the value good CX will bring to your business as a long-term investment. Today, consumers have more choice than ever before, and positive, memorable customer experiences are a key differentiator.

On the flipside, when your CX isn’t up to snuff, you’re probably losing out on customers and slowing your business growth. Investing in a tried and true CX partner will help drive real business value via enhanced customer experiences, better CSAT, and higher ROI. It's as simple as this: you get what you pay for, and better CX = more happy, loyal customers = more revenue. 

4. Ensure Your BPO Partner Understands and Can Meet Expectations

If you are a vendor manager or CX leader, you are not just getting to know BPO partner prospects during the selection process—they are getting to know your brand, too. Share your standards, expectations, and brand guidelines so the company can accurately provide you with examples of ways they’ve helped similar brands grow. Ensure they know exactly why you are bringing in a BPO partner and what metrics you’ll use to measure success. The goal is to be on the same page before you even hire them, so you can both ensure it’s a perfect fit.

5. The Best BPO Partner Is A True Trusted Partner

While your BPO is engaged for one specific reason -- to carry out your CX function -- it should be more than that. While it’s important to engage a partner that can seamlessly carry out the day-to-day and checks all of the logistical boxes, your BPO should be more than just agents closing out support tickets. Your chosen BPO should be a true value-added partner of your brand. As a trusted partner, a BPO outsourcer will provide:

  • Experience and data-driven insights. When your outsourcer pairs their comprehensive CX and, if applicable, industry experience, with the right technologies like Business Intelligence and data analytics tools, the result will be valuable, actionable insights to help drive your CX program in the right direction. 

  • Tailor-fit advice and adaptability. The best BPO partner not only lives, eats, and breathes CX -- but knows your brand, specific KPIs, and business goals as well as they know their own. While some vendors might just execute your CX strategy without question, but a value-added, trusted partner will provide their advice on if you are focusing on the right metrics for your intended goals, and how to best measure and achieve success -- and then shift accordingly. It becomes an ongoing, two-way conversation, and they’re as invested in your success as you are.

  • CX strategy that is collaborative. They will bring their ideas and expertise to the table to ensure you’re getting the maximum impact of your CX program. 

In order to build this type of relationship with your BPO, you’ll want to engage a partner that has the right mix of talent and technologies in place -- and doesn’t view each client as just another number. You’ll need a strong operational team and the ability to analyze customer data and CX outcomes in place. You can find out more about the type of partner a BPO will be during the vetting process:

  • Ask about their approach with long-term clients as it pertains to giving advice or strategic program support. 
  • Ask about specific experiences for brands with goals or pain points similar to yours, or situation-based questions about what they might do if the contact center results are not as expected. 
  • Be sure to ask for references from brands in your industry, particularly if they work with any of your competitors.

When you invest in a BPO that is more than a vendor, but a true partner that goes above and beyond execution and program goals, and provides the support and insight needed to keep your CX program improving. 

Conclusion

Bring on a company that can meet your customers' needs and your brand’s standards. Be up front about expectations and expected KPIs, and ask about what security measures they have in place to protect company and customer data. Speaking with previous and current clients and touring the contact center can give you new insights into how the prospective BPO partner operates, including culture, successes, and any red flags. Look for outsourcers that are an extension of your team and culture, and provide expert insight into continuously improving your CX outcomes and the best BPO for your brand will be not just a partner, but an investment in your future continued growth and success. 


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