There are plenty of advantages to outsourcing with a nearshore provider, and we cover a lot of them in our Nearshore Outsourcing Guide. Once you’ve made the decision to go with a nearshore partner, the next step is to find the partner that’s right for you. Here, we’ll discuss how to find a nearshore partner that fits your company culture, and how to maintain that alignment throughout your partnership.
Request For Proposals (RFP)
It starts with the RFP process. First, you’ll need to clearly define your requirements, and put them in question format for multiple vendors to fill out. Outsource Consultants provides a free template on their website, which is a good place to start. Part of this RFP process should include questions that will determine which outsource partners would be a good cultural fit. This could be in the form of how they’d handle theoretical customer scenarios, a request for the outsourcer’s existing vision statement, or employee and customer satisfaction scores.
Defining your own company culture can take more time and effort than you’d think, but is important to nail down. Does your customer base reflect your company culture and values? Take this into account when defining your own vision, as your culture should sync between your company, future provider, and also your customers or end-users.
Think of the RFP process like speed dating. Get responses from as many vendors as you can, and then narrow down the best fits from there. You won’t likely find the perfect culture fit since there are so many factors that go into it that make each business unique, so it’s important to identify your must-haves and look for those in your call center partners.
Keep an Open Mind
Our advice would be to consider culture over location. Once you’ve decided to narrow your search down to nearshore options, don’t limit yourself to a specific country based solely on travel preferences or preconceived notions. If you remain open to multiple locations, you’ll have a better opportunity to find your culture fit (and you may be surprised where you find it!).
It’s also important to keep an open mind for the services you’re looking to outsource, and what potential vendors have to offer. You may be looking to fill a specific need, such as expanding your Live Chat service, but may find compatible providers that can go above and beyond to improve your customer experience in more ways than one. A good culture fit will integrate easily into your business model and provide support in areas you may not have considered.
Avoid stereotypes when searching for your cultural fit. This search doesn’t mean that you need to find a partner with the same culture, and in most instances that will not be the case. The key is to find a partner who understands and respects your culture, and vice-versa.
Interact With Your Potential Provider
The RFP process will give you a sense for how the provider views their company culture, but to truly gauge if their words align with their actions, you’ll want to see it for yourself. Typically, this calls for an on-site visit, but in this new world, most providers have virtual options for contact-less interactions and site tours.
Start with conversations at the leadership level, noting how they welcome and negotiate with you. This communication style is likely a general view of how their teams communicate with each other, and eventually with your customers. These early interactions will create shared experiences, so enter into these discussions with the thought that each exchange will contribute to your future bond. Be sure to interact with other employees as well, beyond the executive level interviews. Learn what their culture looks like in action and verify that it matches their visions statement.
Promoting Cultural Alignment with Your Nearshore Vendor
After selecting a vendor that best fits your company vision, there will likely still be some work to do with cultural calibration. The best way to initiate this effort is to start early. The vendor should get to know your company’s culture from the leadership level, and sync their understanding of it into one voice, and one message. Once leadership is aligned, the message will be easier to trickle down to the team.
Create consistency in culture, starting with the training team. At Callzilla, our new hires go through an overall training for US culture, and then company specific culture for their program. Think of it as cultures and sub-cultures, with the former being a general understanding of the customer base (usually US based customers) and latter being the specific vision statement for the company or brand. Sub-culture training should get as specific as the typical vernacular used in your company. For example, do you refer to your products as “subscriptions” or “packages”? Customers should feel that every interaction with your company is aligned, whether it be from an in-house agent or outsourced contact center.
While it’s not practical to expect all nearshore agents to have experience or emersion into US culture, the trainers themselves play a big role in this process. It’s beneficial to have a trainer who has traveled to or lived in the United States, so they can use their own cultural experience in training.
Employees on all sides of the business should understand and identify with your company’s culture, not just the agents who are directly interacting with customers. This includes departments like Human Resources who need to select agents who are a good fit for your program, and even the IT department who will collaborate with you on implementation. Each department should be aligned with the common goal in order to make appropriate decisions or give advice throughout implementation and beyond.
Maintaining Cultural Alignment with Your Nearshore Vendor
Call centers, especially at the agent level, can be a revolving door (just as the nature of the business). How can your vendor maintain cultural alignment with new employees due to attrition or the expansion of your program?
Displaying value statements and physical representations of your company culture on the call center floor will help immerse employees in your brand vision and ensure its top of mind throughout the day. This can include posters on the wall, or company provided merch (which I know our agents love!)
You and your vendor should foster a culture that is inclusive, diverse, and collaborative. If their experience is out of sync with the expectations, they should feel comfortable expressing that to leadership and have the ability to contribute to solutions for alignment.
Measuring Cultural Alignment
Culture is no longer an intangible concept, as there are new ways to measure it. At Callzilla, we measure the customer-facing aspect of cultural alignment through Speech Analytics. We indicate custom “moments” within our speech analytics tool for each client, which can be noted as positive, negative, or neutral. Each moment is made up of key words and tones of voice that we want the system to recognize and flag in each interaction. This gives us a uniform and calibrated analysis of each caller interaction, which isn’t subject to human bias.
For measuring cultural alignment internally, we utilize employee satisfaction surveys. This is certainly not a new concept, but the results can be used to gauge if employees are a good fit for the programs they’re working for, and therefore if they fit the client’s culture.
Are We a Good Fit?
We would love to start a discussion to see if Callzilla is the right fit for you. Please feel free to contact us to get the conversation going, or send us your RFP.