BPO Only Works if You Pay Attention to It

It’s important to remember that the functionality and workflow inherent in the process is subordinate to the intended outcomes. In other words, if the organization and BPO provider execute the process, but the intended outcome isn’t reached, then that’s not success and it’s time to look at how the process needs to change. As we’ve seen, often the required changes consist of better integration.

By exits, I mean the equivalent of getting out of the mainstream of the defined process and being able to address an exception directly. In my case, the fact that I called more than once about the same issue should have been an indication that the process, or its execution, was not producing intended outcomes. Let’s be clear, it’s preferable to follow an established process when it makes sense, but when exceptions occur the process needs to be resilient enough to handle them, and if too many exceptions occur, that’s probably an indication of a larger issue.

The takeaway for organizations and BPO providers is to mutually define how intended outcomes can be tested and then to do so. That means actually poking at the process by simulating not only expected usage but whether the process is resilient enough to handle the unexpected and still achieve intended outcomes.

Measure The Results – I know that the concept of intended outcomes is relatively new to the realm of BPO. Yet one of the best ways to measure intended outcomes, that being direct customer feedback, has been around for a long time. An organization’s best customers tend to go out of their way to voice their opinions about the products and services they’ve received. Even sporadic and one-time customers can surface valuable insights about how to improve. All the organization needs to do is listen and ensure that the customer knows they’ve been heard.

I spoke in my last column about the irony of getting customer satisfaction surveys from the technology supplier, contact center and collections function as result of my buying experience. The irony is derived from these surveys because they contained information that had to be shared between all three entities, yet they couldn’t share any information that would have helped solve the problem.

Undaunted, I returned all the surveys along with detailed accounts of what happened and suggestions on how to fix the problems I perceived to exist. Guess what kind of response I got? Nothing, nada, null, zip. For one of them, not even an indication the message got through. Would you feel like they’re serious about intended outcomes?

Here’s another scenario I encountered recently: On vacation with my family, we stayed in the mid-scale brand of a relatively well-known hotel chain. My kids were looking forward to using the pool, and when I confirmed my reservation at the front desk no one mentioned any issues, but when we arrived I found it was being renovated. Although annoying, we found other activities to placate the kids and avert a riot.

I provided feedback about this on the hotel’s Web site and waited. Less than 24 hours later, I had an apology from the property manager and her supervisor, a voucher to apply toward a future stay in any other property within the hotel’s brands, and double my rewards points for my stay. The organization’s contact center is outsourced, yet their process and information integration enabled them to address the issue efficiently and effectively. I even received an email thanking me for helping to make the organization better, and asking whether I was satisfied.

That’s what I call serious.

Mark Cioni, president of MV Cioni Associates, has been helping global businesses to improve their decisions, operations and performance for over 25 years. He can be reached at [email protected].