What makes a great outsourcing partner?

This article provided by Moneypenny

Outsourcing can be the key ingredient to the success of a business. If a company doesn’t have the capital to invest but needs additional resources, outsourcing can give access to skills, products, services and knowledge that it might otherwise struggle to attain. All things vital to the health and growth of a business.

So what makes a great outsourcing partner? Well, reliable service and quality products are par for the course, and few companies will settle for basic standards when putting important parts of the business in the hands of another.

Luckily, after 17 years and with over 10,000 businesses currently engaging with Moneypenny, we can identify clear characteristics found in every successful client relationship.  Here we discuss elements those looking to work with an outsourced partner should consider.

Mutual trust

Some businesses find it hard to let go, which is natural when you consider the work and sacrifices made in order to grow a successful company. Every tiny process and detail has been pored over, so to hand over the reins can be very difficult to do. Like every relationship in our lives, both professional and personal, trust is everything.

Nick Neill, Head Shepherd at EweMove, explains. “Relationships are absolutely founded on trust initially. The EweMove model differs from a traditional company in that we work with remote partners rather than as a squadron at head office. By doing this we can work with specialists in their field as and when we need them. It’s been a very successful strategy for us.”

Nick adds: “To achieve this, you’ve got to let your supplier in and show them everything, warts and all. You want them to have an accurate picture of exactly how your business operates and why you make the decisions that you do. If they really understand how you work, the supplier will use this information innovatively to continuously develop processes, rather than simply going through the motions. It’s certainly worth paying a premium for.”

Traditionally, once a business has on-boarded a supplier, it will monitor the performance through reporting. But Nick believes this isn’t necessarily the best way forward in developing a healthy and trusting working relationship. “You can measure the outcomes to a degree, but you can also destroy trust by monitoring the tiny details. Once the supplier is up and running, letting go is what really gets results.”

Aligned goals

By outsourcing parts of the business, you are letting another company in to help drive it forward. So it makes good business-sense for the outsourced supplier to be rowing in the same direction as your company. More specifically, that they understand where you want your brand to be within a set period of time.

Phil Harrison, Head of Sales at EnviroVent, explains: “It’s vital that your supplier recognises your vision, and adapts their service to suit it, otherwise it could actually scupper your plans.” Phil continues: “When we approached Moneypenny for telephone answering, our ultimate goal was to become a household name.”

“For us, customer service is absolutely the key to this. We discussed with Moneypenny our values, history, and what we’re trying to achieve. They understood that we wanted a more personalised telephone experience for our customers, not a scripted call. This understanding was hugely important to the success of the relationship.”

Conversely, an outsourced supplier that does not align itself with its clients’ business goals cannot shape its services accordingly. This can put the client-supplier relationship at risk as the client becomes increasingly dissatisfied with the service. It’s at this point we see businesses begin to shop around, looking for providers delivering better performance or additional services.

Cultural compatibility

On the face of it, it may seem superfluous, but choosing to work with a company whose culture is closely aligned can have an enormous effect on the working relationship between client and supplier. From elements such as the tone in which an email is written to how much freedom employees have to liaise with their clients. These factors are far more tangible than you first realise, but are felt when working with a supplier whose operating culture is very different from its hiring company.

For EweMove, a culture-mesh was of significant importance as the estate agent required their suppliers to be particularly flexible to accommodate the rapidly changing needs. As such, the company found that smaller suppliers were more adept at doing so.

Nick Neill explains: “Due to fewer process restraints, there’s more influencing how we work together with a smaller supplier. With businesses such as these, you’re usually dealing directly with the owners. You get more enthusiasm and collaborative service than you would dealing with staff of a large business in general.” But Nick also states that this isn’t the case with all larger companies, highlighting culture as a mitigating factor.

“Even though Moneypenny isn’t a small supplier, its structure is so that we still felt the ‘small business mentality’ that comes from the care and attention given. As is the EweMove culture, all of the staff are responsible for upholding the values of the company brand. That’s usually only seen in smaller businesses and was very important to us.”

Constant communication

Just as trust is vital to every relationship, so too is communication. Businesses are constantly evolving – changing processes, technology, operations and employees – and the supplier which has a good level of quality communication with its client will be best suited to adapt to their needs, and know exactly how they work regardless of the changes they face.

The trick is to have one person specifically to handle client needs and queries, according to Sharon Boyle, Key Account Manager at Moneypenny. By having one port of call, clients are never confused about who to speak to, which means issues are resolved faster as the query is immediately picked up by the supplier rather than passed around internally.

“I see myself as the conductor of an orchestra – I make sure we’re all working in tune with each other. It really is a job that makes all the difference for clients.” explains Sharon. “We work with people, not faceless businesses, so knowing there is someone available to help them is incredibly reassuring and adds a significant level to the service we deliver.”

Businesses understand how important it is for them to be innovative. It’s their new methods, ideas or products that will keep them at the top of their market as well as the quality of their service. And a close relationship with their suppliers is vital to achieving this.

Sharon continues: “We go out of our way to build these relationships with our clients, and will go to see them at the drop of a hat. It’s through doing this that we’ve grown our services for clients over the years. We work with them to identify areas to improve their customer services and communication, which we wouldn’t be able to do if we were on the periphery of their business.”

By Jess Edwards, Commercial Channel Manager at Moneypenny.

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