Great Expectations: 6 Things to Seek in an Outsourcing Company

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Outsourcing has, in many ways, become the new normal for businesses. Once, a business would have existed primarily in-house, with a number of different departments working together to achieve the business aims - but this is a style of business that is verging on obsolescence in the 21st century.

It’s easy to see why outsourcing has become so incredibly popular. Outsourcing an area of your business to a specialist company allows you to obtain the help you need, but without the legal and bureaucratic hurdles of hiring a team of employees. Outsourcing also allows you to lower your premises costs, as you do not have to house a team within your own business area - instead, the experts work off-site at their own location.

Business operations you can outsource

While almost any business process can be outsourced, there are a few that have surged in popularity over recent years. The most prominent of these are SEO, marketing, and IT; thousands of agencies supplying these services have come into existence over recent years, most of which are far more time- and cost-effective than managing the same services in-house.

In addition, other outsourcing options include logistics or, as described on https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/225510, customer service; so there’s a great number of areas to consider if you choose to integrate outsourcing into your business operations - and a multitude of agencies ready and waiting to meet your needs.

However, while there are plentiful options for outsourcing, finding the right company to meet your needs is absolutely vital. Unfortunately, as the popularity of outsourcing has grown, more and more companies have risen to meet the demand for services… but the quality of the service these agencies can provide is more questionable. Many outsourcing companies have effectively jumped on the bandwagon rather than utilizing genuine expertise to create an outsourcing service that is genuinely beneficial to clients. It is therefore more difficult than you may initially anticipate to pick the great outsourcing companies from the many, many, many options available to you.

As a result, entrepreneurs who are considering outsourcing have to be somewhat ruthless in their selection process. Below, we have put together a list of what you are well within your rights to expect from an outsourcing company - if you can find an agency that satisfies these requirements, then the chances are that your business’ operations will be in good hands.

No hard sell or upselling

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At the best of times, being on the receiving end of a hard sell or upselling is difficult to process - but all the more so in a business capacity. While it’s understandable that outsourcing companies want to upsell their services, this does not help you make the right decisions for your business. A good outsourcer will focus primarily on ensuring that you receive the best service for your specific needs, rather than trying to sell you a package that is priced at a point that benefits them.

When in discussion with an outsourcing company, a little upselling is tolerable - but if the conversation continually turns to additional services you could buy, rather than focusing on your specific needs, then it may be time to call the meeting to a close.

In-depth experience and qualifications

As mentioned above, the outsourcing trend has led to the creation of a number of companies. This means you have plenty of options, but it also means that the pool of potential outsourcing companies has been diluted in terms of expertise.

One of the best ways to separate the genuine experts from those that are simply seeking to take advantage of the popularity of outsourcing is to look for qualifications and experience. For more established industries like IT,  you should expect the team who will work on your project to involve niche specialist qualifications such as those detailed on https://atb-tech.com/certifications/mcp/  or a younger industry that may not have a huge range of formalized qualifications available - such as SEO - look for proven experience and, where possible, obtain references from work previously completed.

By ensuring that you check the agency you are considering has the relevant knowledge in its field, you are all the more likely to be able to select a company who are able to provide genuinely beneficial enhancements to your business.

Rapid responses

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While it is likely to be unrealistic to expect instantaneous responses any time you contact an outsourcing agency, anything over two business days should be considered abnormal. Your outsourcing agency is responsible for providing a service to your company; a service that your business is reliant upon to generate profits. As a result, you should not have to wait for more than two business days to discuss an important matter with any agency you choose. It’s nice to be patient and be willing to give an agency the benefit of the doubt when it comes to response times, but it’s also important to know you can contact the agency - and receive an adequate resolution - if you experience any issues in the future.

A clear pricing structure

There is usually one reason and one reason alone that an outsourcing company does not provide a clear pricing structure: they intend to add additional fees. Some agencies will quote you an extremely low price for their service, which you will agree to with cost-management at the forefront of your mind. However, they may be vague about the cost of additional extras or what happens if the work they produce requires substantial revisions - and this is a red flag.

A genuine outsourcing company will ensure you know the full cost of the work right from the start, including a provision for the steps necessary in the event of revisions. If this is not available, then look elsewhere; if you choose to go ahead, the likelihood of your company unexpectedly being invoiced for hidden fees is extremely high.

The ability to communicate complex information

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Often, entrepreneurs choose to outsource services that they cannot complete themselves due to a lack of specialist knowledge - this is why IT and SEO outsourcing is so commonplace. Using an outsourcing company to fill a gap in your own knowledge is sound business sense, and your company will likely benefit from the genuine expert attention as a result.

However, while the service an outsourcing agency provides may be niche and specialist, they still need to be able to explain it to you. After all, you are paying for the service, so you need to ensure you are able to comprehend a basic outline of what you are receiving. If an outsourcing agency dismisses questions for clarification - often by sayings things that sound reasonable, such as “don’t worry, we’ll deal with that” or “it’s complicated but you’ll love the results!” - then this should chime alarm bells. It may be a sign of a lack of knowledge from the agency, or - worse yet - a sign that they are keeping their processes obscure for fear you will discover the price they have quoted is unreasonably high.

As a result of this, ask for clarification and explanations wherever you see necessary. If an agency is willing to outline their methodology and discuss both pros and cons of each decision, that’s a good sign. If an agency is opaque and essentially asks you to make a decision on trust, then be suspicious.

There is, however, a caveat to this point: there is always a chance that explaining in-depth would require an agency to provide “insider secrets” as to how they achieve results. If an agency cites this as a reason for a lack of disclosure, they may be genuine. However, they should still be willing to discuss other processes and a general overview in a way that is simple, clear, and understandable; if they satisfy this requirement, then the “insider secret” reason is more likely to be factual rather than an obfuscation tactic.

Openness to discuss issues

When using an outsourced agency, it would be nice to think that everything will go well and the work produced will always be as you expect. However, this is unlikely to be the case, and there will undoubtedly be a few problems along the way.

It is therefore important to discuss what will happen if you are dissatisfied with any element of the service. If you are just told, “oh, that won’t happen! But if it does, we’ll deal with it, don’t worry” - or words to that effect - then worry. Any good outsourcing company will have a set process for dealing with dissatisfied customers, and will be willing to talk you through their approach to resolution in these circumstances. If an agency isn’t willing to discuss this beforehand, then contracting them is similar to just taking a leap of faith and hoping everything works out - which is less than ideal.

In conclusion

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When it comes to outsourcing, having great expectations will stand you in good stead. If you can find an outsourcing provider that meets the above requirements, the quality of the work they produce - and its ability to enhance your business - should be assured at all times.