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We Asked Our African BPO Partners: How to Foster a Strong Outsourcing Relationship

We Asked Our African BPO Partners: How to Foster a Strong Outsourcing RelationshipIn today’s global economy, outsourcing has become a common practice for many businesses. Whether for customer service, technical support, or data entry, outsourced call centers can provide significant cost savings and access to a pool of talented workers. African call centers, particularly those in South Africa and Kenya, are some of the fastest-growing BPO providers.

In order to foster a strong relationship and understand the perspective of call centers in the region, our team recently visited Kenya and South Africa. During this trip, we asked our BPO partners for their opinions on several facets of the industry, including what it takes to have a successful partnership with a call center. This is what they had to say.

Focus on Strong Partnerships

Partnerships take work, especially when looking for outsourcing options in up-and-coming regions around the globe. The relationships you form with BPO providers in less saturated destinations add momentum to their growing industry and offer new business perspectives to both parties.

To create a focus on strong partnerships, your company will need to ensure you stay active and aware of your partner. This means keeping lines of communication open with your BPO provider so that they feel comfortable coming to you with suggestions and news. The ultimate goal is to make both sides of the relationship feel like you are a team working together towards a common objective.

Don’t misunderstand – these call centers may be newer by a global standard, but their leadership knows exactly what it takes to make outsourcing partnerships work. These industry leaders have a strong focus on making their region’s BPO industry thrive, meaning meeting expectations and communicating effectively. With mutual commitment and understanding, you can have a fulfilling, strategic partnership.

Invest Your Time and Energy Heavily Up Front to Form a Great Partnership

Finding a BPO partner isn’t simply about showing up to the table. Just like with any relationship, you need to put in consistent work and be effective when communicating. If you heavily invest your time at the beginning of the relationship to lay out what both you and your call center partner expect and continue to work together, your partnership is sure to last.

Additionally, you may need to set aside time and energy to perform a site visit. Meeting your new BPO partner face-to-face makes a great impression and can help strengthen the bonds between your two companies. Spending time with your BPO partner will also give your company a better understanding of who their agents are and their day-to-day operations.

Have Good Systems and Easy Navigation

When partnering with a BPO, it’s incredibly common to have their agents use systems you supply. These portals are a great way for call center employees to effortlessly answer questions, pull up customer account information, or resolve complaints.

This software will be the most used tool by your agents, meaning that an investment in its structure and ease of use will help with meeting KPIs. If load times are slow or customer information is difficult to find, call times can skyrocket. That’s why, as such an integral part of a contact center, it’s important to ensure these systems are easy to navigate and quick to learn how to use.

Provide a Breakdown of Products and Services Being Supported

No one is as knowledgeable about your products and services as you are. That’s why creating a comprehensive breakdown of the aspects of your company being supported by your BPO partner is so important.

The more information about your product or service that you can supply your BPO partner, the better the support you will receive from their agents. This is because they can hand off this breakdown to their agents, ensuring that any inquiries customers may have can be properly answered, even the niche questions.

Collaborate More Than Dictate

When partnering with a BPO provider, it’s important to remember that they are call center industry experts. Although you know what your company needs to succeed, your partner knows how to utilize BPO industry technology and techniques to meet those expectations.

By dictating more than collaborating, you may find yourself missing out on your partner’s expert advice. It may feel like you have a better chance of getting what you want this way, but you’ll likely find that you aren’t getting what you need in the end. Allow your contact center partner to hold equal space in the conversation and offer insights on how to best meet your KPI and CX requirements.

Be Involved in the Hiring Profile

One of the key benefits of partnering with a BPO provider is their knowledge of how to hire agents in their region. This means many companies feel comfortable participating less when creating a comprehensive hiring profile, offering incomplete expectations to their partners.

Providing partners with a list of recruiting requirements, such as certifications, languages, and schedules, will help them better choose candidates from their region. It also allows them to set expectations on attrition, training time, and the recruiting process. This way, rather than signing on agents that may not be suited to what you need, you can fully understand the hiring process and timeline.

Understand Hiring Difficulties for US Hours

With many existing clients in the United Kingdom and other European countries, some Kenyan and South African call centers are in the process of adopting agent schedules that align with US business hours. Shifts that previously experienced low call volumes when servicing European customers may require additional recruiting to cover American customer service requests.

Furthermore, BPO providers must account for differences in time zones between their regions and the US when recruiting. The continent of Africa is home to timezones anywhere from 5 to 8 hours ahead of the continental United States. A time difference like this means that many call center agents will be working 2nd or 3rd shift, which may make hiring more difficult. While some agents prefer these hours, others may find them difficult due to family obligations or travel.

Be Involved in Work Readiness Programs

More than any other continent, the BPO industry in Africa focuses on raising citizens from lower economic situations as the region strives to combat poverty and improve wealth inequalities. To be truly successful when partnering with BPO providers in the region, your company will want to become involved with the work readiness programs these contact centers participate in.

A work readiness program allows agents to learn important job skills to better help them become competitive hires. The benefits of these programs are two-fold. Your agents will have better-developed skills and expertise, while also raising them socio-economically. Kenya and South Africa both place importance on the growth of their citizens, so showing a willingness to participate in these programs shows solidarity with the countries’ goals.

Start Your Success Story

Finding a new contact center partner can be a great opportunity for businesses looking to cut costs and tap into a pool of talented workers. However, it’s important to put in the work and invest in your BPO relationship to ensure its success. Now that you have helpful tips from partners in the region, it’s time to find your best-fit BPO partner. Contact our expert advisors for a no-charge consultation to match today!