In this new normal, the BPO industry will need to be more flexible regarding the locations where operations are performing. With a higher percentage of full-time employees working from home, everyone should have a laptop, VPN, multi-factor authentication, and video communication system to successfully work from home. And for those who are back in the office, contingency plans should be in place in case an immediate pivot to work from home situation arises without complications should the need arise.
Governance also needs to be adapted for this new environment, having the flexibility to comply with all the operational, security, and performance requirements for employees working from home. In addition, implement new communication channels between employees and the leadership team in the office. Ensure to include video conference capabilities (Zoom, Microsoft Teams), VOIP calls, video recordings, and business messaging apps (Slack, Google Workspace) to provide new hiring orientation, training, coaching, disciplinary sessions, and open channels of communication across teams. The standard best practices for an in-center environment do not translate 100% to a work-from-home scenario. Specific adaptations will have to mirror the in-person experience as closely as possible.
Most companies addressed COVID-19 by acting swiftly to safeguard employees and migrate to a new way of working that even the most extreme business-continuity plans hadn’t envisioned. But even during an ongoing pandemic, employees will need to be flexible and able to rotate between working in the office and from home as vaccination rates increase and community transmission decreases. A hybrid model of sorts will work in some cases but not all, so flexibility by all parties is imperative.
Due to security and regulatory requirements, certain work functions cannot be performed at home. Due to this, processes must happen in a centralized contact center, often in a secure environment within the facility. Implement vigorous protective measures to ensure a safe, low-risk, and healthy working environment.
BPO partners must be open to the new standard requirements and adapt them to their service offerings. Changing how security operates is vital, with a more significant percentage of the labor force working from home than ever. Security requirements will generally be set up differently, with new technologies needed that may increase the cost of the service.
However, beyond the delivery of SLAs (an essential requirement), the magic of good governance comes from the people both parties bring to the relationship. Historical vendor-buyer approaches no longer work well and must be addressed and adjusted. At DATAMARK, we pride ourselves on the long-term collaborative relationships that have always characterized our governance models.
Consider several challenges when addressing B2B account management governance in this new normal.
Cybercriminals are switching tactics and exploiting any issues relating to COVID-19. As a result, working from home is becoming a gateway to new forms of data theft. Poor technological infrastructure and inadequate cyber and data security can hamper the productivity of WFH employees – and represent a cyber risk to companies. A VPN with MFA as a minimum requirement should be put in place for all people working from home. In certain instances, employees working at home should record themselves during working hours.
With physical mailrooms moving to a more automated solution with the digitalization of processes and technology accessible to all customers, we need to be prepared to manage faxes, emails, images, and physical documents. As long as the copy and its content are not digital, you can never truly realize digital transformation enterprise-wide. So, while the paper is not going away soon, getting the content digitized as early in the process as possible is the goal.
Reinventing the workplace to address the new realities created (or exacerbated) by the global pandemic is key to success in 2022 and beyond. We must use this moment of reinvention as an opportunity to increase support for hybrid working configurations, with clear roles for remote and in-person approaches. Ensuring the continuity of teams in a WFH environment will rely on crucial communication tools being utilized across all divisions and hierarchies. Companies will need to create internal talent marketplaces to engage their workforce better.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will need to be implemented in all BPO operations to keep pace with the market. Processes should strive towards improving and utilizing technology that will represent significant customer savings (ROI). Too often, technology is thrown at the problem, thus only giving the illusion of progress. At DATAMARK, rather than “paving the cow paths,” we first approach the challenge with a deep analytical dive, then re-engineer the processes with a digital-first mentality. Implementing proper technology reduces costs, and companies must be ready to share savings with their customers to continue competing in the market.
Meeting SLAs is not negotiable; companies need to continue meeting the expectations of their partners under any circumstance. However, meeting SLAs will not guarantee your future with a customer since that is the most basic expectation. Good governance makes a difference and is an investment.
A study done by EquaTerra (now KPMG) found bad/failed contracts only allocated 1%-3% of account revenue to governance, while successful contracts allocated 5%-8% to good governance. It is costly and disruptive to constantly swap BPO suppliers in and out, so you should revisit your approach to management if this is a pervasive theme in your organization.
Modify governance to cover new requirements as people working from home and new technologies automate processes. This needs to happen while keeping control of the process with quality results and more robust security to prevent attacks.
At DATAMARK, we continued with the same length with our long-term partnerships, which led to expediting projects as the pandemic didn’t affect this specifically. Our customer relationships strengthened with an emphasis on communication and collaboration. We ensure we have the correct technology while adapting to changes in their systems to move people out of the office temporarily and permanently.
Robust business continuity strategies will enable organizations to remain resilient while recovering quickly and efficiently from any business upheaval. The pandemic taught us that all companies must have more robust BCP strategies up and down the value chain. Redundant sites are no longer adequate; we now need to ensure we can move the entire labor force to work from home, with all employees fully prepared to work remotely at a moment’s notice. As one of our customers commented in a recent article, “If you have redundant sites all in one country, like India, then you still have a single point of failure if that government locks down the country for something like COVID. It is imperative to have cross-border redundancy.”
There is a potential for workflows to stop when transitioning from an in-office to a WFH environment. Meetings to align priorities and shared objectives have become increasingly important in this new environment. Without these opportunities for regular calibration and connection, stakeholders are at greater risk of feeling isolated, disconnected, and uninformed. Video calls and meetings are much preferred over the phone, as you cannot see an individual’s body language, gestures, or facial expressions in a simple phone call. This means you are missing critical inputs that reduce your level of influence on the conversation and can undermine the effectiveness of the discussion. The best way to optimally influence and stay connected to your stakeholders is to communicate your ideas, feedback, suggestions, and concerns over the video, when at all possible, when in-person is not an option. One rule of good governance is that you can’t over-communicate, but under-communicating will undoubtedly lead to issues and feelings of mistrust.
Companies can only afford to pay attention to account governance with your BPO provider. With the high costs of regulatory exposure, the challenges of manual retention, and the explosive growth of WFH employees, the time to adjust to this new normal is now. By working with DATAMARK, you can remove the traditional barriers to effective account governance and protect your business now and in the future.
Have you struggled with any aspects of account governance with your BPO? Has a specific challenge we spoke of in this article also plagued your organization? Please share your experiences and insights with us in the comments!