From RFP to Go-Live
That RFP process is a grind, eh? The peak experience is when you finally get to call your new strategic partner and let them know they are the successful bidder. After that, it would be nice to take a breather. But you’re ready to implement and transition into your new outsourced customer care program so you’ve got to buckle up and buckle down. The right outsourcer, of course, will ensure as few roadblocks and speedbumps as possible, but with collaboration, you can ensure long-term success. Here are the milestones you can expect along the way of implementing your outsourced customer care program.
Initial Meeting and Plan Development
After the agreement is signed, it’s time to get to work. And that starts with gathering leaders – on your side and on your new partner’s side. Alignment and investment from functional area leaders is going to be key to the success of this launch so involve the right folks from Day One of the implementation.
Schedule your Implementation kick-off meeting. This should include operations, IT, HR, information services, workforce management, training, and quality assurance resources. Together, you’ll cement the implementation plan, including all milestones, completion dates, and required resources.
Schedule your Technical Transition kick-off meeting. Your and your outsourcer’s tech team will need to collaborate regarding platforms, desktop tools, task management systems, workforce management systems, IVR systems, call recording systems, and more. The outcome from the kick-off should be a clear path and commitment from resources on both sides to well defined milestones.
At the end of the implementation and tech kick-off meetings, you should have an overall project management map that will be the foundation for a seamless transition. These complex plans will include multiple concurrent initiatives. We will focus on a couple of big bucket items below = but assume these activities are unfolding alongside other milestones, not in a linear one step at a time fashion. (You can request our sample implementation plan here for full details.)
Building Your Outsourced Customer Care Team
Frontline agents are the ones interacting with customers every single day, representing your brand faithfully. Building the right team of agents is an integral part of your outsourced customer care implementation plan. Once staffing requirements have been established based on forecasting, we turn to recruitment.
The critical first step is the development of agent profiles. This should be a collaborative process but will depend upon your outsourcer’s existing methodologies for profiling both soft and hard skills in alignment with the requirements of the project.
The recruiting team will develop custom soft and hard skills testing and assessments for the talent sourcing plan.
Armed with the agent profile and skills testing, your outsourcer will develop and launch a recruitment campaign based on the agent profile for your program, and interviewing, testing, and selecting candidates.
Training is another area where collaboration is key. The goal is to minimize gaps in knowledge transfer. Your learning design and training team should work closely with your outsourcer to develop, test, and integrate the training program and curriculum into the outsourcer’s world. In your collaborative approach, you’ll be working toward a full training plan that includes voice of the brand and cultural training – and you want trainees to understand how the work they will do fits in to your organizational goals.
Trust that your new outsourcer’s training team understands their paradigm best. What has worked well in your inhouse training center or what worked for an incumbent outsourcer may not be the best approach for your new partner.
In our new normal, you want to ensure your training is going to be as effective online as it would be in a brick and mortar classroom setting. It’s always been critical to ensure that training does not result in death by Powerpoint, but these days it is more important than ever to keep training engaging. Leveraging multimedia formats, embedding hands-on practice, creating role play and mock call tools, ideally in a sandbox environment, takes planning, effort, and time. You can’t cut corners – good training produces confident, capable agents. The last thing you need in the early days of a new program is agents who are shaky in their role.
Integrating your change management process will be essential to keeping everyone on the same page should changes in policy or process occur down the line. If your new partner has inhouse change management resources available on a fee for service basis, that’s something worth investing in on an as-needed basis.
Understanding with complete clarity what success measures are important for you as the client is the single most important aspect of the transition. Understanding what success looks like before we get out of the gate ensures your partner is focused on the right things. Robust reporting plays a vital role keeping you both aligned, accountable, and focused on outcomes and continual improvement
Your partner will undoubtedly have a suite of standard operational reports. If that suite doesn’t include the specific metrics that align with your goals, now is the time to get started on developing custom reports. That’s why the information services manager was in your kick-off meeting. The IS team needs to understand your goals so they can provide expertise and recommendations.
Beware the urge to replicate exactly what you’ve always had. Your outsourced partner’s information services team can add real value. Bringing fresh eyes to long-standing reporting processes can uncover wasted effort. Take the time in the implementation process to work with the IS team to focus on process improvement and streamlining your reporting. You can read more about how our IS team adds value for our clients here.
The final step, of course, is reaching your go-live date. Agents have finished training and testing, full network testing has been completed, and everything perfectly integrated. The first customer care contacts can start rolling in! From this point, good governance is the watch word. Commitment on both sides to a cadence of collaboration including weekly operations meetings, monthly calibration meetings, and quarterly business reviews that represent joint planning sessions with the goal of maintaining a mutually beneficial, long-term strategic partnership with your outsourcer.
How long your outsourced customer care implementation plan runs depends upon the size and complexity of your project. But no matter what, your new partner should be at your side every step of the way, making way for smooth sailing and addressing concerns head on.