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Quality versus quantity – Investing in BPO talent

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By Martin Conboy

The ability to attract, develop and retain talent within a constantly evolving environment is fundamental to the success of any outsourcing provider. Likewise, failure to invest in human resources will bring grave consequences.

Everybody knows that the three pillars of people, process and technology are fundamental to driving innovation and business transformation. It’s a given that all outsourcing relationships should be built on these three pillars. And the most important of these in driving value and competitive advantage is people.

However, as Phil Fersht President and Chief Executive Officer for HFS highlighted in a recent article, out of the three it’s talent that is often given the short end of the stick when it comes to establishing and managing outsourcing relationships.

The “Talent Paradox”

Both outsourcing providers and buyers fail to realise the importance of investing in the key driver of value creation – people – which has created what Fersht refers to as a “talent paradox.” As outsourcing moves from focusing on labour arbitrage to adding value through innovation, vendors and buyers need to make the necessary investments in the key driver of value creation – people.

“If outsourcing is to deliver on its full potential, buyers as well as providers need to invest in developing the skills and talent to capture the greater levels of value available from fourth and fifth generation BPO solutions,” said Mike Salvino, group chief executive, Business Process Outsourcing, Accenture.

The ability to attract, develop and retain talent within a constantly evolving environment is fundamental to the success of any outsourcing provider. The need for agents with specific yet transferrable skills is becoming more and more critical.

Talent management

Organisations are viewing customer care as a strategic differentiator, and employees have a tremendous impact on that. Employee competency and satisfaction will determine customer satisfaction and the experiences customers have with your organisation.

Courtney Ada, Customer Success Manager for OracleCMS, commented recently, “I think some of this change began during the GFC when companies were really challenged to do more with less. Improving your ability to recruit and retain talent is one way to deal with that.”

She added: “The challenge is to make sure that their agents have the appropriate level of skills. Overall, customer interactions are more advanced now. The need to train agents appropriately to be able to handle that is definitely impacting the industry and that puts pressure on outsourcers to be able to have really strong talent that are savvy in all of the various communication channels.”

Invest on talent acquisition and management programs that will enhance core business skills. Core business skills are identified as general and transferable skills such as flexibility, creative thinking, written communications, leadership, organisation and problem solving.

For buyers who want the most out of the talent from service providers, don’t focus on the providers operational capabilities so much as their ability to develop methodologies, analytics, and talent.

The emergence of new channels such as social media has meant that agents have to be savvier in terms of how they interact with customers. The lines between sales, marketing and customer services are being blurred now there’s more of a need to look at the customer experience from a holistic view. So it’s much more strategic in terms of the overall company’s business plan.


November 13, 2014
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