Seventhman Blog

  1. Outsourcing Customer Service in the Digital Age

    "outsourcing customer service"Everyone in business knows that good customer service is not an option; it is a MUST.  When customers are the very blood that’s keeping your organization alive, will it be a smarter option to outsource service to vendors so you can save on cost?  For the past few years, support functions have been a major contributor in globalization as companies outsource their workforce to call center hub spots like India and the Philippines.  Still, the very question these days is how you can find balance in the human and technical side of things when providing service to your customers.

    Customer Service in the 21st Century

    No matter how technology allows for instant connection, there are people who still feel assurance speaking to a live person.  For this reason, contact centers have fully integrated online, mobile, social and landline communications.  This means monitoring customer queries and conversations online and offline, 24×7 – from phone queries, call routing, live chat, fax, website queries, emails, SMS, mobile touch points, interactive voice response (IVR) and social networks like Facebook, Twitter..  Whether you choose to outsource to vendors here or abroad, or hire the services of a home-based agent is not the focus these days.  Those who provide an awesome customer service knows that empowering your team to personalize each call for help will win your business more loyalty.  Your front-liners must reflect your genuine interest to help and add value to your customers.

    Motivating your team to go beyond the usual service metrics and customer satisfaction scores can be tough if you’re working with a hundred or more.  Are you ready to encourage them to take chances in making your customers happy?  Read This First:  To Create Innovation, You Must Inspire Loyalty First

    The Rise of Unsourcing

    You probably haven’t heard of this word yet and many are speculating it to be the next gen of customer support.  Instead of outsourcing support to a third party, the company sets up an online community that enables peer-to-peer support among its users.  Not only will customers get help from those with the same experience, but they get to interact with someone who’s local.  This way, advocates of unsourcing can lessen instances of irate customers and minimize the cost of customer service via outsourcing.  This knowledge-sharing is further encouraged through gamification, like awarding badges to top contributors and giving out perks.  Still, there are limits to this where confidential data is concerned, like billing.  Will this mark the end of outsourcing services as we know it?  Too soon to tell, I’d say.

    Should You Still Outsource Customer Service?

    The answer is YES – if only you understand how to do it right.  You have to carefully analyze the risks and benefits, the skills and resources you will need.  It’s not an easy path or a band aid fix to your business problems.  It’s stepping away from the usual cost saving notion and thinking about ways on how to manage customer relationships for real.  Just in case, you need to have that realistic approach before you even sign that contract with your vendor.  The key to a successful customer service lies not in training your team to deal with irate calls or tough questions; it’s all about teaching them how to listen to your customers’ wants and needs.

    It’s an evolving process.

  2. Keeping Agile in the World of Offshore Outsourcing

    "agile outsourcing"Gone were the days of labor arbitrage as we enter a new era where finding qualified talent for your team is as quick as a mouse click.  While it is true that many businesses are looking offshore to cut down on cost, there is much more benefit to be had than meets the eye.  Those who were first to take a bite have now harbored mature offshore outsourcing relationships that resulted to an overall increase in service quality, as well as maximum flexibility when it comes to the organization’s enterprise strategy process.  Many of those who have been practicing offshore outsourcing see more improvement in their organizational agility as an effect of sending work over to global sourcing hubs.  But, innovation in this area is not without a multitude of challenges.

    The Immigrant-Driven Economy

    As I’ve been following the hot debate between Obama and Romney when it comes to immigration, I can’t help but wonder just how have these people born outside the U.S. helped in growing the economy.  In this infographic from Entrepreneur online mag, it will surprise you that more foreign-born workers and entrepreneurs are driving economic growth.. and the number is rising.  What’s more amazing is that they dominate service-based industries, regardless of the language and culture barriers.  There must be a stigma right now on local businesses taking jobs abroad, but I’m hoping that whoever wins the presidential race will not forget about the efforts of these migrants who are helping reshape the economy in such uncertain times.

    How Do You Play the Sourcing Game?

    While there’s news of GM bringing back 10,000 IT jobs on-shore, many other early adopters of offshore outsourcing may just follow suit.  Manufacturing is one of those areas where we’ll surely hear more news where sourcing is concerned.  But in this age of globalization where the fast beats the big, to survive the game, you have to multi-source… or simply, take the best of both worlds, of what insourcing and outsourcing can bring to your business so you can maximize productivity and increase your ROI.  As the adage goes, fortune favors the brave.  Many may still be reluctant to go local because they may not be able to scale their operations like what they currently do now overseas, like in India.  Investing in domestic resources may just not be a viable option for some.  Are you willing to take the risk?

    Offshore Outsourcing and Agility

    Some say that you can’t outsource agile for the simple fact that distance works against close collaboration among your team.  Can you really adopt an agile work process when it comes to outsourcing?  Though it comes with challenges, especially in the matter of managing people and technology, the good news is that it is manageable.  The core value of organizational agility comes with the right preparation, of taking baby steps, starting things slowly but surely, investing in on-site training, choosing the right partner, and having project managers who lead by example.  It’s all about taking advantage of the best available resources, onshore and offshore, that works for many successful teams.  In this case, we’re more likely to see hybrid sourcing models bloom just to make ends meet, as they call it.

    The decision is yours to make.  Experiment and Learn.

  3. Can the World Survive without Outsourcing?

    "world without outsourcing"I’ve been asking people lately if they can imagine a world without outsourcing.  It seems that everything can be outsourced these days and thanks to new technologies, we are transcending the barriers of geography to get the best solutions at the right cost.  There are many reasons why companies are into outsourcing and it all comes down to the value it brings to their business. In this era where globalization has brought changes in the way we do business, outsourcing is definitely a plus when it comes to competitive advantage – from manufacturing, service outsourcing, marketing, management, accounting, legal and human resources.  We’ve become accustomed to the practice that I can’t help wondering: Can we survive without outsourcing?

    Surviving the Free-Trade Syndrome

    In this age of uncertainty, endless debates have been spurred and outsourcing has been full of misnomers since.  The issue perhaps is that governments should leave the markets to organizations, instead of making a controversy that can make things worse.  There’s simply no way to reverse the laws of economics and free trade puts everyone on an equal plane to prove their worth in a globally competitive market.  Think of it this way:  The reason businesses are hiring offshore is because of the talent they find there and it goes beyond cost play.  If we look at outsourcing in a different perspective, it’s simply trading services.  In the olden days, they might have referred to this as some form of a barter system that forged ties between nations of various race, age and religion; it helps in overall economic growth.

    Outsourcing: Stealing Jobs from the Middle Class

    And I have to put a big question mark to that!  It’s so easy to point fingers at outsourcing in the name of job creation.  Uncle Sam may have a reasonable cause to stop companies from sending jobs abroad in an effort to protect the interest of its citizens.  Many have even argued that there’s simply no other choice but to outsource overseas to lower costs and remain competitive.  Come to think of it, outsourcing is no different in mass migration to greener pastures.  For the sake of organizational expansion, outsourcing is a strategic business response in a global economy that thirsts for something cheaper, faster and better.  Will hell freeze over if one day, legislations passed a bill that puts a total ban on outsourcing worldwide?  There will be a domino effect.. of catastrophic events. Small to large-scale businesses in the first world may run down and workers in developing nations may have to look for other means of being self-reliant.  If that happens, we’re going back to the dark ages, instead of moving forward.

    Outsourcing and the 21st Century Global Economy

    Like it or not, outsourcing is the new paradigm in the way we do business these days – in the name of efficiency and productivity.  The truth is, there’s simply no ‘out’ or ‘in’ these days because what matters is getting quality work done – wherever that may be.  Perhaps, in the future, we may do away with ‘Made in America’, ‘Made in China’… as everything is made in the world, by the world.  And to answer the very question I’ve asked, I don’t think we can survive without outsourcing.  Besides, it’s simply about where I’m planning to get things done.

    This is the outsourcing evolution.  What’s your stand?