By Nora Beqaj, Business Director, The Nest UK
The early years of building a start-up can be incredibly complex. From scaling quickly in new markets, to building solid expertise and processes to sustain growth, to launching innovative products and services to differentiate from competitors, the challenges can be vast. Not only this, but the decisions a start-up needs to make to sustain and grow the business can be complex.
One of the questions I often get asked is whether start-ups should consider outsourcing their customer relationship work. Ultimately there are no set rules when it comes to customer relationship outsourcing; each start-up, depending on its maturity and market, can commit to it, either long-term or occasionally.
If outsourcing is something you are keen to do, here are my six top tips to consider before taking that first step:
- Outsourcing permits you to scale without hiring
If your start-up is growing fast, you’ll be stuck with some difficult decisions around HR and hiring. Outsourcing can be a flexible and adaptive solution to avoid dedicating limited recruitment resources, especially if you need to set up 24/7 operations, sometimes with multilingual needs, and are looking for large shifts or highly specialised advisors.
The key here is to think about whether your business experiences occasional or structural peaks of activity (pivotal moment to acquire new customers, sales periods, special offers, etc.). Your outsourcing partner will handle those recruitment operations based on your expressed needs. A bestshoring strategy will generally follow. This will aim at defining the most adequate teams and locations, nationally or internationally.
Outsourcing can be an agile solution to significantly grow your start-up’s headcount without having to handle a lengthy recruitment process, focus time on creating employment contracts, or training and upskilling your existing employees.
- Outsourcing helps to optimise your time to market and maintain focus
For a start-up that aims to grow, time management is critical. In other words, the daily challenge is to keep the right focus – on the product, new features, additional services, UX improvement, customer feedback, financial performance, and the list goes on. At this stage, it’s all about prioritising. A small team – no matter how brilliant – simply can’t do it all. Time and resources need to be dedicated to the core product.
It is often said that a good entrepreneur must know how to delegate if they want to develop their business. What is left to decide is which tasks to delegate and to whom? Some tasks should be entrusted to an experienced partner whose job it is to do so. Multichannel customer experience management is one of the most crucial functions to outsource to an experienced partner.
There is no longer a need to deal with recruitment, training, hardware and resource requirements, hourly performance, land charges, etc. As a result, your core team will have time to focus on what is required to get to the market at speed.
- Outsourcing will allow you to deploy internationally
Suppose your start-up needs to enter a new market abroad. In that case, partnering with an experienced outsourced provider can give you the access you need to a large number of locations across several countries, with multilingual hubs across the world. This gives you a significant strategic advantage: a fast and accurate international recruitment capability.
Starting in a new country and finding the right people is not an easy move – it can take months. Relying on a specialist partner to do this can help you save time and gain relevance with agility. You will not have to deal with local HR, labour law, or training issues.
- Outsourcing reduces your burn rate in a crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic is on everyone’s mind, but this is just one of the specific crisis situations that can impact a start-up. Other events can impede growth too. Often, in such cases, the priority will be to reduce spending, more specifically, your burn rate.
In a crisis context, outsourcing can be an excellent solution. Within a few hours, the start-up can renegotiate its task force dimensions – no HR constraints, no complex reorganisation, no individualised management of employment contracts, etc. Ultimately, the outsourcer partner will be the one to take the hit since it is precisely their role to continuously re-adjust its workforce and tasks.
- Outsourcing earns you credibility
A good entrepreneur will focus on the core of its value proposition. This common ground is also well known amongst start-up partners and investors in particular. Therefore, proving that you can outsource is an excellent way to (re)gain credibility in the eyes of partners or associates, both current and potential ones.
It’s also a good signal to send to investors or associates, which can be valuable when inviting partners to fund your development.
- Outsourcing allows access to the latest technologies.
From the simplest to the most complex tasks, outsourcing is not just about adding an “extra pair of hands”, but rather about being able to access the latest technology and top talent. Even implementing strong level one customer support operations is a complex and time-consuming process. It requires expertise in workflow management, customer communication channels, agents’ training, and continuous updates of customer service processes. With years of experience (especially supporting major industry players), a well-selected outsourcer will save you valuable time deploying your operations and improving your customer service. Thanks to its in-depth knowledge of all tools available on the market or proprietary innovations (robotic process automation, speech and text analytics, voice bots, etc.), you will be able to select the best ones for your needs and stand out from your competitors.
For services that require complex implementation – often linked to local regulatory requirements – working with an outsourcer will give you access to the latest technologies available. An example of this would be specialised services such as know-your-customer (KYC), a process of verification of consumer information widely used in the Fintech and platforms industry. Making the choice of “buy” rather than “build” can help a company de-risk, not least because if technology development is a vital part of a start-up business plan, it represents considerable financial, human and time resources.
ABOUT THE NEST
The Nest by Webhelp is an outsourced customer experience (CX) program by Webhelp to help start-ups and fast-growth companies differentiate themselves and scale-up their team, quickly and simply. Operating across Europe, the program provides clients access to its global network of operational customer experience specialists 365 days a year and seven days a week. The Nest offers a wide variety of services, all of which are customized to the client’s individual needs, including, but not limited to; omnichannel customer engagement services (including customer care, community management and technical support), sales support (customer acquisition & retention, sales assistance) and digital services (content management, moderation services, digital marketing). Clients of The Nest will have access The Nest Community, offering mentoring and other business support and guidance to enable start-ups to grow and succeed in their marketplace.