OUTSOURCING vs CAPTIVE BUSINESS IN EMERGING AFRICAN MARKETPLACE
Head of Pre Sales, iSON Xperiences
The African continent is bristling with potential and tempered by a complex combination of economic and political risks that will make unrest more common and political trends harder to read. Nations that can successfully navigate the difficult terrain will prosper—as will investors who can do the same. Africa’s growth forecast for the next decade is brighter than most other regions, and countries that can diversify and build flexible labor markets while managing expectations will have particularly positive stories to tell. But it will almost certainly be a bumpy ride. The companies that succeed will most likely be those that can tailor their risk management strategies to specific business activities and local contexts.
Talking about risk management strategies, business continuity is a critical piece to be given its due importance in all the Africa centric business discussions. One of the most effective way of BCP planning is looking at Outsourcing of the key non-core operations of any business organization – like back office, clerical activities, customer services, retention and outbound campaigns, KYC and customer onboarding solutions, documentations, data entry, verification works, customer contact centers, digital care, social media solution etc. It is imperative that the customers are always engaged with in today’s highly competitive world. For achieving a superior customer experience, it is of UTMOST importance that a well thought out and strategically planned outsourcing model is executed and monitored on daily basis. Now, to decide if the entire customer experience management function outsourcing to external service provider, whether it would add value it is important to for organizations to weigh its advantages and disadvantages, vis a vis a company's culture, service needs, staff skills and resources. In order to grow and capture incremental market share, organizations needs to realize the underlining importance of relinquishing control to a third party service providers, who are experts in the business process outsourcing space.
Here are other key considerations:
1) Take a close look at the customer experience you want to create.
Personal attention is always touted as the hallmark of small business, but that could be far from the case. Not all business owners are great customer service or sales agents. If your company is better at designing/selling products or marketing than satisfying customers, than customer care outsourcing is a must. The outsourcing companies are experts in the management of customer care operations and can add value through their proven expertise, best practice sharing in the areas of Call Centre Technology (CCT), Customer Relationship Management Tool (CRM), Interactive Voice Response solutions (IVR), digital care options through Mobile Applications, social media customer care abilities etc. By providing the entire gamut of customer service related capabilities and skills, an outsourcing company can be given the complete end to end ownership of the customer experience management.
In addition, smaller and medium sized enterprises, especially growing ones, rarely have trained or dedicated customer service staff. Issues are often fielded by whoever happens to be available, with decidedly mixed results. Salespeople get pulled into troubleshooting when they should be making sales calls. That translates into lost revenue.
However much they try, businesses can't do everything, so by outsourcing to specialists they can grow much faster.
2) Calculate real costs and savings.
A new business when deciding to start outsourcing operations needs to clearly evaluate the costs of setting up a state of the art contact center. Among many things, some of the basic things to be considered in costing are:-
Setting up the call center office, space allocation, rentals, facilities, administration, IT and non IT infra costs, IT costs may be CCT, CRM, IVR, Social Media Tools, Digital Care Applications, Desktops, Operating Software licenses, Server costs, data connectivity / bandwidth costs, LAN/WAN connectivity, wiring, cabling etc. Non IT costs can include seats, facilities, transportation of staff etc.
Then there is the cost of hiring the manpower to manage the call center, MIS/Training/Quality executives, Asst Managers / Managers for supervision and process handling, HR / IT and Admin staff etc.
As against these a call center company will already have all the above facilities and more ready made. They can be of great help for any business who decides to outsource and can break the entire capex costs of setting up the end to end call center into an opex model. Most of the investments will be done by the outsourcing company on behalf of the business for their outsourcing needs and requirements.
Last but not the least, the real ROI for a business who outsources, lies in customer retention, service metrics and customer satisfaction scores. if your customers are happy, they will continue to purchase and they will refer their friends.
3) Audition a contact center's performance before signing on.
Businesses should do a proper background and reference check for shortlisted outsourcing business partner. Invest time in listening to agent responses and reviewing services. Call in as a customer of one of their clients and see how your issue is resolved. Test how agents communicate. Also participate in the hiring process of the call center, in order to ensure the right kind of people is hired. Then train, re train and train them on a continuous cycle for proper onboarding into your product / service concepts and knowledge banks.
Some of the key reasons to outsource your non-core functions: Consider the following top reasons cited by companies that have successfully outsourced their non-core operations:
1) Control operating costs:
Derive the benefits of rationalizing labor costs. Processes outsourced to third party service providers are done at much lower rates and at the same quality levels as in your location. This translates into major cost savings for companies. They also save on operational costs such as payroll, administrative costs, HR, power, rentals, and utilities.
2) Lower infrastructure investments:
Cut back drastically on expensive infrastructure requirements. State-of-the-art IT systems, customer service call centres and technical helpdesks result in heavy investments to companies. Keep your costs low by outsourcing these functions.
3) Focus on core functions:
Outsourcing your business processes would free your energies and enable you to focus on building your brand, invest in research and development and move on to providing higher value added services.
4) Get access to world-class capabilities and improve operational performance:
Get access to world-class capabilities and infrastructure. Have processes delivered by dedicated teams that have operational and domain expertise in the outsourced process. Their experience in the field translates into greater operational efficiencies.
5) Overcome seasonal workflows:
Overcome seasonal fluctuations in work and lack of workers during holidays and off-seasons. Deal with peak workloads and smaller staff during vacations by outsourcing these functions.
6) Access to skilled resources:
You no longer need to invest in recruiting and training expensive resources for your business. Providers like iSON take care of the resourcing needs with their pool of highly skilled resources. The resources employed by iSON are well educated in the respective business areas and are experienced in handling the business needs of companies that want to outsource. Further, iSON employs world class business practices perfected over the years by catering to customers around the globe. Get access to the expertise and capabilities of iSON.
7) Enhance risk management:
Get protection from natural calamities, accidents, market fluctuations, or technical crises. Disaster recovery mechanisms and detailed back up plans provided by the offshore partner will help you to respond rapidly and get operations back on track quickly.
Outsourcing as a business model
The overwhelming advantages of outsourcing speak for themselves. More companies are drawing up plans to outsource work. Many companies now base their entire business plan around the delegation of functions to external service providers. According to some experts outsourcing is not simply a way of cutting costs; it is now a business model.
One of the leading IT Services and BPO Outsourcing Company in Sub Sahara Africa is the iSON Group. It is focused on IT Services and Business Process Outsourcing for Telecom, Retail, BFSI and Govt. sectors in Africa, India, UAE and South East Asia. Websites (www.isonbpo.com, www.isontechnologies.com)
- iSON Group has presence in 30+ countries worldwide
- Some of their prestigious clients are Airtel, MTN, Tigo, Vodacom, Idea Telecom, Telenor, Toyota Automobile,AIICO Insurance, SBI Card, Goibibo, Indiamart etc and many more
- The group companies have expertise in providing IT services and solutions, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) services, Outbound and Telemarketing, customer & revenue analytics and CAF/KYC processes.
- iSON Group employs approx. 13,000+ staff across Africa, Middle east and India
- iSON serves as on date customer base of 400+ million and handles approx. 40 Million calls per month and it is growing exponentially.
- iSON has expertise in providing Digital Care options through mobile app
- iSON manages the entire Social Media service requirements of its clients. One of its clients in Africa is consistently awarded the Socialbaker’s “socially devoted” accolade and has the highest fan base and engagement scores across the country it is present.