Outsourcing, the act of contracting services from an outside supplier instead of utilizing an internal source, is more than a business buzz word; in today’s 24/7 work environment, it is imperative to doing business. From the smallest mom and pop taco truck to the largest global corporation, one would be hard-pressed to find a company that does not outsource something. Because it is so integral to doing business well, I find it fascinating that the approaches to outsourcing are still so sterile: find a provider, sign the contract, let them do the thing.
If you go online and search “outsourcing your business,” this extremely practical paradigm continues. Two categories of results are immediately apparent: ads paid for by companies inviting you to use their services and solutions and information about what, in particular, you should or should not outsource. The list is long, and if you’re not careful, you can go down the rabbit hole and emerge overwhelmed instead of ready for the next step.
By doing this simple search, you begin to see that many vendors are trying to get your business by appealing to your perceived needs: Want more time? Outsource. Want more money? Outsource. Want to grow your business? Outsource. There is a fundamental flaw in this thinking, though. In trying to identify your pain points, they’ve forgotten about your client. And perhaps you have, too. What if you viewed your outsourcing need through the perspective of your client or customer? After all, the outsourcing resource you select will impact your customers in some way, and that interaction or result reflects on you and your company.
I suggest interviewing outsourcers as if they were to become part of your internal team. Do some detective work; I often order items from my warehouse vendor to ensure they are packaged to my standards! Vet outsourcing prospects based on competence and reviews, but also on emotional intelligence and alignment with your mission and vision. Ask them questions like:
- How would they see their role in your overall business process contributing to the betterment of the client experience?
- How do they envision the services they provide reinforcing your mission and vision?
- How do they define client service?
- What is their mission and vision?
- How do they define their corporate culture?
- In learning about your company, what similarities and differences in client service approach did they identify?
- What are three examples of things that have recently gone wrong with clients and how did you handle them?
- From what they now know of you, how would they define your corporate culture?
At the end of the day, you are fully responsible for the customer/client experience your company offers. Ideally, your customers will never know the difference between “in-house” and “outsourced” staff or services. So, a principal component of outsourcing is choosing vendor partners who are in alignment with your business. Whether you are choosing vendors for highly skilled expertise, managing or automating repetitive tasks, marketing strategy and execution, or financial services, what they do is important, but how they do what they do for you is paramount to your continued success.