December 2013 | Outsourcing Blog | BPO Industry Updates and Articles
Top Sourcing Trends of 2014
Several factors are expected to shape the sourcing landscape as clients and providers prepare for 2014. Info.ISG-One.com shares in an article that with the persistence of fundamental change between clients and service providers, the structure and management style of sourcing contracts will also evolve. Some of the changes involve a sterner policy on cost and service integration, and the use of cloud technology.
Key market sectors are also expected to take center stage next year, especially now that providers are looking for more opportunities and growth.
Below are the five key trends highlighted in ISG’s survey:
All eyes are on the profit margin. Business owners are now more concerned in improving the potential of an operation rather than maximizing their deal size. This will result to a collaborative partnership between buyers and providers where buyers receive a higher level of efficiency and the providers get more deals no matter how big or small across a wider market. SMAC technologies or social media, mobility, analytics, and cloud will also force partnerships to transform processes.
Being transparent in costs is vital now more than ever. Buyers are now more detail-oriented where they are seen looking at how an IT expenditure will cascade to the entire IT operation. For businesses that are considering transforming their operations, one of the vital steps they take is aligning IT operations and IT finances. They have to make sure that they’ve got the best deal for their budget and that all of the expenditures are accounted for.
Experimentation period is over. Most businesses that are looking to outsource IT processes are now more experienced and aware of what to do, which delivery model they should use, and which processes to outsource. Furthermore, they are now keen on reinforcing internal systems first before integrating new methods.
Cloud computing will be more defined. Business owners still struggle with how they are going to measure a cloud-integrated process’ success and how it can be maximized to improve all of the company’s systems. Next year, enterprises that make use of the cloud technology are expected to come up with better monitoring and tracking systems, as well as an overall approach for the use of the cloud.
Healthcare reform in the US opens a window of opportunity. Since the US is leaning towards a bundled-payment setup for healthcare delivery fees, the processing of a patient’s files and insurance information is expected to bog down on the flow of a medical facility’s cash flow. Providers are expected to take this as a new opportunity, one where they can expand service offerings and move up to high-valued services.
Put Customers First
This particular season has the internet crawling with blogs, videos, and infographics that offer lists of trends and best practices for the upcoming year, or a summary of things that happened this year.
Today, we veer away from the usual "top 10" and instead focus on the one thing businesses should think about in 2014: customer centricity.
An article posted on B2B Marketing
reminds us that paired with today's marketing technology, customer centricity has become a big issue. All the marketing tools provided for automation, data analytics, and social platform management are technology solutions for marketers to better understand customers and deliver excellent products or services to them.
In addition to that, the struggle to deliver engaging content and improve a business website's SEO, building a mobile site and apps, social media strategies - these are all attempts to satisfy the empowered and paying customer who now dominates the digital world.
With all of these in mind, prospects and customers should be placed at the center of every decision - what the business can do to meet or exceed their expectations. Otherwise, all the tools and techniques would be meaningless.
Outsourcing quickly rose to fame when developed countries became affected by the 2008 recession. It is the go-to business tool that was used to reduce costs and bring back a sense of normalcy in the global economic equilibrium. The thing about outsourcing is it accumulated detractors and negative undertone as much as it gained respect and quite a following.
Common misconceptions about customer service outsourcing
sets the facts straight by exposing the truth about the common misconceptions on the highly commoditized delivery model - customer service outsourcing
Language dissimilarity raises a red flag.
One of the longstanding issues is the need of organizations to have a candidate who has good command of the English language. Apart from the dissimilarity in accents and unclear phone lines, customer service representatives are perceived to be indifferent from various terminologies that are usually culturally driven.
However, standards have changed over the years.
Basic English-speaking skills may no longer suffice for Australian, Canadian, and British companies as majority of them require agents to at least mimic/understand the accent and know the common slang to come up with a substantial conversation.
Quality of output is sacrificed.
During its first few years, the primary driver for businesses was to reduce operational and labor costs. They were able to achieve that but the quality of work and output was compromised in the end. Today, even if cost reduction remains at the sidelines of business goals, executives are looking beyond cost savings and are focusing on enhancing the quality of customer service. Another factor that is now influencing the decision makers of businesses is the need to access resources such as skilled workforce. Training will be such a hassle.
The agents employed by the call center services provider may have all the basic skills in check, but they would need to have an in-depth understanding of their clients’ business in order to deliver properly. Because of this, companies immediately think that they would be spending more on training than the operation itself.
But business owners need to realize that they only need to reinforce their training process - one that can be integrated swiftly and effectively to produce qualified agents. Loss of management and control.
Since most customer service outsourcing operations are done remotely, business owners are not sure how they will manage, control, and resolve issues if they are in a different time zone. There are now ways to monitor operations in real-time or as needed.
Clients and providers can agree on a certain schedule for video conferences or even web chats to keep each other updated.
Initial investment is costly.
Organizations are usually taken aback by the large set-up fees established by the providers. But with the rise of cloud technology and scalable workforce, businesses can now customize their customer service outsourcing operation according to the needs of their organization.
Top three marketing trends
A post at Vocus.com
shares the top three marketing trends that are predicted to dominate in 2014. Some of the key factors that influenced these trends are technology, tighter competition, and the desire to develop existing strategies. Unconventional Social Media Sites
Social media has given way for various trendy and unconventional channels such as Snapchat and Vine. These have become scene stealers because of their innovative style, leading them to generate their own legion of followers and users. Marketing experts can create their strategy using the emerging channels by analyzing their users’ behavior and interests. Geo-targeting
Marketers are expected to focus more on the location of their target audience and customers. It can be through localized content or a strategy that hits close to home or the culture of a certain group. Mobile Marketing Solutions
Millions of consumers can now be seen glued to their mobile devices. The marketers of today are seen taking advantage of the vast opportunities mobile marketing has to offer such as wider audience, inexpensive marketing solutions, and its ability to quickly adapt to changes in the market. It will continue until next year so companies must see to it that they can be visible where the consumers are.
Industry analyst and consultancy firm Ovum recently released a study called "Front-Office BPO 2014 Trends to Watch" which highlights the impending developments in the global outsourcing industry for the coming year.
Healthcare outsourcing takes center stage
In 2014, the firm predicts that the outsourcing environment will be more diversified as various activities like the rise of home-based agents in the US, healthcare outsourcing segment taking center stage, and emergence of offshore factors will be more prominent.
Other trends highlighted in the report are:
- Providers will be moving to high-valued services that deliver end-user-focused services.
- Home-based agents will gain traction in the US, but will not be accepted in other developed countries.
- Buyers and providers that are involved in contact center services and are looking to cut costs are likely to tap the healthcare segment for various opportunities.
- Opportunities are being sought in emerging offshore destinations and mature outsourcing hubs as well.
According to Ovum’s Principal Analyst for Global IT Services and the author of the report Peter Ryan, budgets for front-office services in the call center outsourcing segment have become tighter, which poses challenges for most buyers and providers. Buyers are expected to haggle even more when dealing with providers, and providers are seen capitalizing on high-valued services instead of broadening their offerings.
Meanwhile, home-based agents will remain popular in the US, but in Canada, Australia, and Western Europe, this type of work arrangement is projected to decrease. The US is predicted to account for 90 percent of home-based agent deployments next year.
Health information management services are being recognized in countries where the government is involved with healthcare processes.
Ovum suggests that providers need to make sure they have everything in place such as talent and technology to take on large projects. Buyers, on the other hand, should look for providers that offer flexibility in terms of their delivery models and resources.
In 2014, marketing teams are predicted to spend over $130 billion on digital marketing collateral, producing a combined volume of 73% more content than in 2013.
As a marketer, you will need to get rid of all the promotional clutter if you want your message to be remembered by consumers. Create a buzz that is different from all the noise in the Internet and email inboxes.
Content marketing tips for revenue growth
Here are three practices that will help you generate revenue next year:
Define buyer personas.
Learn exactly who your different target customers are and what they're looking for by talking with your sales representatives and customers. This way, you'll be able to deliver relevant content to your audience at the right time and in the right place.
Map your marketing funnel.
The movement of prospects from awareness to conversion has changed. They no longer move in a straight line and instead roam - they compare prices and check out customer reviews on social media. To understand the strengths and weaknesses of your content, research on how your customers move from awareness to conversion. From there, you will be able to position content resources where the impact will be greatest.
Create strategic campaigns.
Now that you have a persona in mind and a lead funnel based on data, you'll be able to create tailored campaigns with different content elements to engage customers at the right time. Entice customers to your site with press releases, blog posts, email campaigns, and social network updates. Deliver value-added content and offers to take care of your customers and gather information.
Things to Avoid in Business Processes
A post at Business2Community.com
shares common business process errors that lead to problems in the operation.Not having a goal
Business owners often overlook that they have to set an inclusive goal to align all divisions. Each department has their own set of goals, but this doesn’t automatically imply that they no longer need to work and collaborate with everybody else in the company.
Goals help set the teams on the right path, and everyone in the company is part of a bigger picture, which is to drive growth and profits.Relying solely on technology
Technology is now at its peak with every business and consumer embracing the tech trends, especially mobile connectivity and gadgets.
With all the benefits technology has today, businesses still shouldn’t create their plans and rely solely on technology. Executives should always look into backup systems and even tried-and-tested manual labor to ensure that if anything goes wrong, they still have something to go back to.
Being able to innovate without disrupting business operations is also something executives should consider. Every time an operation stops, investors lose money and valuable time.
Failing to document processes and important data
Being diligent in keeping and recording data can help a business in the long run. It could be used as a guide for future improvements on the processes. For instance, a business is planning to expand and hire more employees, they can use their records to streamline and standardize processes. Recording untested processes
If you are still in the staging and testing parts of a process, it is recommended that you do not document these processes to avoid misunderstanding in the future. Moreover, it will save companies valuable time and resources if they skip this part and just focus on making the process a success. Disregarding relationships
Having a strong relationship and rapport with the customers - even amongst the team members - helps improve an operation. By investing in relationships, executives can understand the challenges and achievements of an operation better. It will foster an environment where employees take pride in their jobs and can earn a steady flow of customers.