In the last article, I argued how the winds within the wings of traditional phone-based BPOs are being stolen by cheap, easy, and widely available automation alternatives. I also propounded that weakening prospects of the BPO industry do not necessarily mean a reduction in the overall scope of outsourcing as a business decision. There is a bit of a dichotomy between the two parts of this statement, which at one glance could appear disorienting and that is ok. If you read the 2nd part of the last article carefully (I will link it down below) the confusion will disappear. The more prominent question which the previous article did not answer fully is that if BPOs have to become a platform company to survive what sort of platform company should they really become? It is a legitimate question and that is the inspiration behind this one. It is in order to mention here that overwhelming 80%+ feedback emails that I received from my smart readers were seeking clarity on this very question. So here we go.
Before we get into the specifics of it, I think we should spend a minute thinking about why is ‘change’ important for business, and then when the business does elect to change how is it that the organization should attempt it? Answering the first part of this question is rather straightforward, the needs of an evolving society change over time and to cater to that organization in the business of meeting those needs must change too. Now, on to the tricky part of the question, what is it that the organizations that decide to change try to do when they pivot? Organizations sacrifice products for saving business. Remember the goal of a for-profit organization is to make money and to not make money exclusively from doing ‘a thing’.
Now with that out of the way, let’s focus on the element that often startles those who attempt to embark on a change. The strangeness of the new, the absence of familiarity, lack of knowledge in the new arena that they consider pivoting into. Right out of the gate let me concede that the fear is legitimate, 100% so. Imagine that if you woke up in the middle of the night in a deserted desert with icy cold sand under your feet instead of your bedroom and on the warm bed on which you slipped into peaceful slumber earlier that night? The first few minutes would fit the exact definition of hell, will it not? You would then normalize your new situation and think about how did you get there and what are the options in front of you to get back to where you actually slept? You would at that moment be scared, unhappy, uncertain, nervous, and irritated. Would you not be at the sea completely?
Can anyone count that turbulence against you?
Imagine an entrepreneur who has been making XYZ amount of money from a set business, tried and tested product line is being asked by someone to change it to something else because they think that is the future. It is a tough bargain, but then one that must be made because what is today will most certainly not remain so tomorrow. A case for change will have to be continually made and pushed at the right forums, because, as big a force is need for change, the urge to remain the same is also not a weak trap. Torn between the demand of tomorrow and habits of yesterday, the decision-makers feel exhausted, clueless, and sometimes a bit disenchanted too.
I can’t claim to have discovered the formula that works in turning key people around, every time. I have failed a fair amount of times myself too, but it is in the times that I did win, I find both my motivation and purpose. So my dear readers, if you are the one pushing for the change, I wish you luck and urge you to try out your own strategy.
I better stick to the part of the puzzle that I am most comfortable with, that is knowing how to carve out the change. It is important to note here that the change that we are referring to here is the change of device and not so much the substance of what is being executed. That is in essence it will still be reaching to a customer to either sell or serve or remind them of the both or either. It would be easier for the brand to sell what it has already sold, it is this core belief that often prohibits the founders from changing. So, as a change managers, we should start from there.
I present to you the framework!
5 step framework for BPOs.
Let’s understand how is the current stack of clients/customers stack up. Data probing will be necessary. Here are the questions that you will need to ask and answer.
1. Figure out your area of strength.
- Which industry?
- What line of work?
- Which medium?
- What nature?
- Is there a specific demographic?
- Not just for existing clients but past customers too.
- Why did the customers who left you did so?
Plot these details on the table.
A quick analysis of these details should reveal to you that which is that technology feature that can fully automate the work that you are now doing in a manual manner. Pick that product and then assess.
- Would you like to create the product bottoms up?
- Or you have the wherewith-all to acquire an organization that might already have the solution ready.
- If acquisition looks difficult, try merger possibilities.
2. Get critical stakeholders on board with the idea of ‘transformation’.
- Key employees.
It is important to keep critical people in the organization informed of the direction in which the organization is wanting to pivot into. As it is this set of people who are going to make it work. This conversation is best not kept unidirectional, consensus building is needed. Bring the team on board and then get on with the plan.
3. Finding the resources (money and other things).
- See how you’re placed.
- Plan for the shortfall if any.
Change is easier said than done. Resource mining beforehand is critical to success.
4. Getting the team ready.
- Restructuring the organization.
- Hiring the skill sets that would be needed to build/run/manage the solution.
This is perhaps the most important part of the puzzle. Old world conventional leaders do not want things to change because they know it is too late for them to change and they also know that if things change they will become irrelevant. In preparing the team, the leader needs to understand both sides of the story: why is change vital and what is the cost of not changing.
5. Make a new business goal.
- Make a new goal statement of the company and then socialize it.
Both your mission and vision statements might need to reflect the change in plan. Make it happen, socialize it – take it to the last employee. You need the whole of the organization to rally behind the change.
These five steps pulled right should carry you through, without much trouble.
For those of you who are not wanting to get on with the first step right away and wish to think through a few ideas for building platforms, here are a few.
Platform/Product Ideas for BPOs.
1. CRM Solution for managing customer service end to end.
- Workforce management system.
- Knowledge management.
- Training management system.
- Performance management Module.
- Quality management system.
- Data and Reporting modules.
2. Creating a solution for the industry where most of your contacts come from.
- Video KYC in BFSI.
- Digital onboarding.
- Social Media command center
3. Systems designed to reducing churn.
- Survey tool.
- Linking usage with trigger points.
- Devising strategies for increased longevity of the customer.
4. Conversation engine.
- Desktop Automation.
5. Vendor management system.
- Client onboarding
- Client sign up
- Life cycle management
- Complaint and compliment modules.
- Billing and Invoicing.
- Change management.
- Forecasting and supply details.
No matter what you do, you must not remain the same, because those who do not change perish.
On that note I shall end this, take care and good luck.
Link to the last article