Episode 2: Choosing the right BPO (Five Minutes on the Front Line)

Episode 2: Choosing the right BPO (Five Minutes on the Front Line)

Five Minutes on the Front Line is a weekly segment hosted by Pathlight CEO Alexander Kvamme and Chief Customer Officer Ramon Icasiano, who is a former CX leader at Earnin, Netflix, Zynga, and Verizon.

This week's episode: Ramon speaks with Alex on a key decision that every growing Customer Service organization has to make: choosing a BPO.

Transcript:

Alex: Hello, everyone. Welcome again to Five Minutes on the Frontline. I'm Alex Kvamme, co-founder and CEO of Pathlight. And with me as always is Ramon Icasiano, Chief Customer Officer of Pathlight, but also former CX leader at Earnin, Netflix, Zynga, TiVo, Verizon, and other household brands. In this series, we chat with Ramon about key operational challenges facing CX leaders everywhere.

This is the first of a three-part series on BPOs. BPOs are an essential part of doing business and serving customers, especially if you're a fast-growing technology company. Many of our customers leverage fantastic BPOs and otherwise couldn't provide an amazing customer experience without them.

So Ramon, the first step here is choosing a BPO.What do you look for? How do you do your diligence? What are the few things that that our viewers should make sure that they do when they're going through this process?

Ramon: Thanks Alex. You know, choosing the right BPO, as a CX leader, is going to be one of your most important business decisions because when you link up with a bad one, there's just so many downstream stream impacts to your costs... first call resolution, your quality, your retention. So I recommend, as a leader, that you actually spend more hands-on time actually being involved in the whole process. I know you'll have help with other teams, from legal to security, in going through a normal RFP. But these are some of the tips that I would share with you in terms of vetting out the best ones.

One is when you do reference checks, go wide and deep.

And number two, really focus on the type of technology and their awareness to technology as a benchmark for how they're going to operate with you.

So in terms of references, when I mean "go wide" - reach out to your network. You know at some point people have used BPOs. Start to get a list of names of where people start talking highly about these companies. And you'll slowly get a list of BPOs that you may want to reach out to. Also, if you don't have a broad network, go on LinkedIn and look for customer service manager or vendor manager titles, reach out to them. You know, as practitioners we're always willing to help each other. And you just say, "Hey, I'm interested in shopping around. Do you know of any, could good BPOs?" And you'll start hearing some names pop up.

And what I mean by going deep? I mean, once you've narrowed the list and the BPOs give you names of clients they support, I would actually start what I call "dogfooding." Go to the companies that they support, become the customer, interact with their customer support teams, chat with the agents, and you'll start getting a feel for their capabilities, right, and the types of technologies they use. If you're getting consistent answers, you know, that's a good sign. That tells you that the teams are well-trained. If you like the interactions from  the auto-responders or the types of confirmations you get, that's a good sign in terms of the type of technology that they might be using.

So my next point around technology is - it's 2021, right? There are absolutely no excuses anymore for BPOs to be not only technology driven, but also data intensive in terms of how they make decisions. So when you start peeling the onion back, talk about the familiarity they have with technologies.

What technologies do have they used? Why or why not? And in terms of the data-driven aspect of their methodology, I would ask them "What are some of the best data-driven decisions they've made that add value to their clients?" And ask them how they operationalized data in terms of how they optimize their operations.

So those are the two key areas that I like to focus on. But again, don't discount your own hands-on approach to this. The closer you are to actually inspecting these things the better and more comfortable you are making this decision.

Alex: Great. Thank you. So to sum up, there's actually, there's two points and there's a point zero, which is - you need to do this yourself. You can't delegate. This is too important to delegate away. Point one is go deep and wide in your references. Not only ping the network or just cold email to get feedback, but really go down to the customer experience and make sure that the customer experience that these BPOs are providing their other customers is something that you would also like to provide your customers.

And then second, have a high bar for their tech savviness, the tech technology stack that they use and how they operate their data-driven kind of muscle. It's true. You know, we work with so many BPOs both directly and through customers and the ones that are the top performers always seem to be the ones who are the most data-driven who leveraged technology, whether it's, you know, systems like Pathlight or systems like Zendesk or QA systems or workforce management systems.

Great. So that's been Five Minutes on the Frontline, another one. Again, this is the first of a three-part series on BPOs. We've got a couple more coming out, too. Feel free to  email Ramon if you have any questions, challenges, or you would like a recommendation on a BPO to work with he's ramon@pathlight.com and that's it for us until next time.