12 + 1 things companies should look for in an outsourcing partner  

1.   Competitive pricing

As cited in our last article, now that it’s clear that cost reduction is considered as one, if not the most important motive to outsource. A relevant initiative to execute upon deciding to outsource is to proceed with the due diligence and research to find the ideal business outsourcing partner that’s able to deliver an attractive and competitive pricing proposal since, let’s be honest, this may be one of the most impactful financial and operational decisions the board at your company has submitted for discussion, analysis, and approval for a quick and safe ROI yielded by the charted strategy. For all intents and purposes, said competitive pricing must also be supplemented by a top-notch quality of service, validated, and certified by any KPI target achievement data the potential outsourcing business partner can provide. This brings us to the fact that the most competitive pricing among a list of outsourcing prospects to uphold your soon-to-be outsourced operations will not always be the first route to go if it does not come with a verifiable history of good quality, productivity, and relevant competencies deemed essential to pledge a successful partnership. Focusing solely on best pricing and not doing the proper research on the quality of service and operations management might drive your company to end up going with the least suitable partner. In a nutshell, it might create more issues than the ones you are looking to resolve, not only putting a lot more work on your table but also increasing costs or negatively impacting customers' loyalty to your brand, ultimately translating into a loss of revenues. In contrast to the famous saying, "expensive is not always the best", especially when putting your brand’s reputation in a third party’s hand. Having an outsourcing partner like UNO that’s able to guarantee the perfect balance between the best pricing in the market and quality of service and management will always be the safest way to go.  

2.    Provider’s tenure in the industry 

Being skeptical about how the decision to outsource workload will impact the quality of the service or Backoffice activities you are accustomed to providing inhouse is always a common and somehow normal sentiment among companies deciding to take that journey, sometimes becoming not only one of the tops, but at times the only reason why a decision to outsource has not been executed or even considered. The good news is that those mixed feelings can easily be put to rest when the outsourcing partner you choose can pave the way and set the stage for a solid and trustful business relationship right from the get-go. One of the components that tend to drive the required level of confidence in the possible outsourcing trip is without a doubt the degree of experience and proven track record of solid business relationships and success stories the prospect site has in the industry, dealing with projects similar or holding higher complexity levels than yours. Not only can it guarantee a successful service provisioning staying in compliance with your standard operating procedures, but the provider’s experience can also be used as a pedal to improve your services by utilizing already mastered skillsets, technologies, and efficient techniques.  

3.    Technology  

After pricing and trust, we, of course, cannot forget about what, besides the human resources, makes it all possible in most service companies, yes, you guessed it’ "the all mighty technology." As is largely known, technology is one of the primary elements and fuel that keeps service tech-based companies running. An up-to-date and functional technology infrastructure offered by the potential partner is critical for the efficiency and success of the outsourcing execution. A discovery session to analyze your business needs and what the potential partner is able to address will always come in handy. The prospect can showcase potential solutions at hand or development capabilities to create a tailored one from scratch, addressing the must-haves and wish-to-have items on your end. As detailed in previous articles, the desired advantages in the tech aspect of the outsourcing business atmosphere regularly lean towards factors such as: ease of integration with existing solutions, logistics, analysis, process automation, reporting, monitoring, and alerting mechanisms, proactive and reactive actions to prevent or have quick and efficient solutions or failover mechanisms at hand in the event of unforeseen issues.  

4.  Protocols compliance and certifications  

Like the old saying goes, what better way to back up your outsourcing partner’s claims of protocol compliance to the T than to have them show "receipts" or, in other words, well-documented SOPs and certifications endorsed by the entity that regulates said practices. A "certified" stamp on it will always make the verification of said claims a lot easier, since most regulatory entities have the site that wants to be certified or renewed go through exhaustive evaluation procedures, where a designated team from said regulatory entity runs in-depth tests and verification processes prior to giving the "certified" tittle to the company. To summarize it all, the certification is solid proof that the outsourcing company/provider you have as a prospect is indeed following the most effective protocols and processes known in the industry, certification that is not only limited to an annual renewal fee to truly prove that the company is 100% in compliance, but should also be earned upon being validated. It’s also worth mentioning that UNO has been PCI-DSS certified year over year since 2011. It is the entity that aids in preventing security breaches in the payment card data theft. We also adhere to other known protocols such as COPC, which regulates standards for operations that support the customer experience.  

5.  Transparency in partnership  

An outsourcing partner that’s able to proactively provide meticulously crafted internal transparency policies and rules, covering all aspects and not limited to what’s agreed during the initial stages of negotiations, is always vital. Safeguarding a level of access to your project’s historical and live stats is a must-have on your list when choosing a site. Although the main scope of reporting should be aligned with a streamlined approach to optimize verification and analysis, having the option to access data going from macro all the way to micro levels with full transparency practices will give your team the same level or higher peace of mind as when the task was being serviced inhouse, being that the partner site will always strive to have the data as organized as possible to make it comfortable for the team assigned to oversee the partnership.  Access to reporting requirements on your end may include and not be limited to: micro data that feeds the reports where all agreed KPIs and thresholds are displayed; access to 100% of call recordings (only to assigned members of your team with the agreed clearance level, as per COPC protocols); access to chat and email transcripts; a functional Backoffice work tracking system; agent contact disposition and call stats; and more.  

6.  Nearshore location  

As much as remote communication has evolved as a result of the roadblocks most companies encountered and were fundamentally forced to address with efficient solutions, in conjunction with tech innovations largely developed by then upstart tech companies like Zoom or big corporations such as Google and Microsoft with "Teams". Although these solutions have been reducing the need for in-person meetings, traditional visits to your outsourcing partner’s location will always be a plus. Having the peace of mind of not being forced to take a trip halfway around the world to visit your outsourcing partner whenever an in-person meeting is required is critical for a successful journey.  A nearshore location with a convenient geographical proximity like UNO, in the Dominican Republic, which is situated less than 2 hours away from US soil, just a flight from Florida and less than 4 hours from the big metropolis of New York. 

7.  Time zone  

Another fundamental benefit of a nearshore location is the time zone. Quite frankly, many firms have been able to keep the business relationship to some level functional with partners in time zones of the world surpassing 10+ hours, nonetheless at the cost of a vastly forced adaptation, which not only leads them to hold meetings in the middle of the night, but most importantly exposing customer service, tech support and sales agents not giving their 100% due to being working during hours when most of the population in their country of origin or residence is asleep. High level prompt communication is also an important factor to consider, since outsourcing partners located in far locations normally do not guarantee time efficient responses to emails, call or instant messages. If they come across operational issues that are not in their hands to resolve and require immediate escalation to your business in the USA, the resolution will have to wait till the next day, or an admin member of your company’s team will need to stay on duty overnight.  

8.  Adaptive or cultural affinity   

Most Latin American countries, especially the Dominican Republic during the past decades, have been highly influenced by American culture. Professionalism, family values, and entertainment (music, movies, and lifestyle as a whole) are only three of an endless list of characteristics Dominicans have gradually adopted from American culture.  The Dominican diaspora in the United States is comprised of over 2.4 million residents, most of whom periodically visit their family in the island or keep close and constant communication with their relatives, driving a high influence on the lifestyle and common topics Dominicans living in the island are constantly adapting to. The population that most adapts to American culture in the Dominican Republic are youth, who also represent over 80% of the workforce in call centers.   

9.  Employee career development and tenure  

A vital piece of an outsourcing venture and what will mostly drive the success is how well your outsourcing partner has been able and is committed to their employee’s professional development, and this applies to all levels of the organizational structure. UNO call center has a well-structured career development department, crafted based on clear objectives and efficient execution of initiatives that help the company’s collaborators develop their competencies to improve productivity through the use of the most advanced and efficient techniques in the industry, which also keeps them engaged and motivated, as it enables them to keep climbing the corporate ladder and perceive how their efforts are adding value to the organization and their professional growth.  

10.      Employee satisfaction  

An outsourcing partner with well documented results on surveys deployed to employees is also an important factor to consider. The results from these periodic surveys can give you an idea of how satisfied the employees are with the company you are considering establishing a business relationship with. In companies like UNO, the surveys are 100% anonymous and cover all levels of the organizational structure, utilizing effective techniques to avoid the data from being skewed. A happy employee will always organically transmit their positive state to your brand’s customers, as well as a considerable increase in productivity.  Delighted employees will always be one of the main ingredients for an optimized performance, as in contrast, a scenario of unhappy employees will drive high attrition rates, out of margins micro and macro productivity compliance, higher training costs, as well as halted collective project learning curves, exposing the project to missed opportunities that we normally only see during the early stages of a program launch.  

11.      Work ethics  

Another important item to consider when choosing a business outsourcing partner is their work ethics, involving competencies such as integrity, discipline, responsibility, accountability, and honesty. These are competencies that can be validated via the outcome of registered internal surveys to employees or by asking for a business reference via email or phone with one of the site’s existing clients in the portfolio upon signing an NDA, choosing said reference based on type of industry, tenure in the portfolio, and size of campaign.  

12.      Labor Pool  

If the volume of workload you are contemplating outsourcing is large, whether following a lineal year-round influx pattern or seasonal behavior, this last one colliding with most retail clients' ramp-up needs towards EOY in Q4. It is always good to find a business partner with solid achievements in recruitment capacity standards in the industry or able to keep up with your workforce shifting needs. A call center like UNO that’s able to keep up and guarantee an up-to-par recruitment capacity to fulfill your business needs is critical for a healthy course of operations throughout different staff ramping needs.    

       12+1.   Business Continuity plans  

In most cases, emergencies happen, from natural disasters to mere tech issues with internet providers, or in most extreme cases, "a worldwide pandemic," such as the one we all had to go through in Q1-2020, which took us by surprise when we were all forced to rapidly plan and execute a work from home migration, which thankfully started to take place just off-peak season for most call centers.  There were lots of tech-related businesses, among which we can find quite a significant number in the call center industry, that were not able to plan and execute quick and efficient logistics to guarantee solid business continuity. There were even sites still in the process of migration 6 months into the worldwide lockdown. Well documented business continuity SOPs and diagrams from your potential business partner should always be on your verification list, as well as historical data on events the prospect outsourcing partner has come across, RCAs and how they were able to come up with a resolution, in conjunction with level of effort, the number of resources and time it took for the issue to be 100% resolved. UNO counts with effective reactive issue ticketing systems, proactive periodic maintenance protocols, and around-the-clock system health checkups. When the lockdown mandates were released, we were able to complete a full staff migration in a week, ensuring that all clients in our portfolio had a smooth, high-quality operation, by having the vast majority of the workforce working from home at the time.  
UNO is constantly evolving, leveraging internally developed and worldwide emerging technology to improve all operational, administrative, and support dept's ecosystems in our in-office, work-from-home, and hybrid business models.   

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