Are BPO Services Holding Your Business Back?

By Jennifer Moore

Business Process Outsourcing, or BPO, has been a top choice of competitive retailers for the last two decades.  In the early days of the competitive market choosing BPO made sense.  As a retailer you could avoid the high cost of system ownership while insulating yourselves from the chaos of early market operations. But when a retailer outsources their back-office they must also cede control of many of their most critical activities to a 3rd party. 

Let’s look at a few common scenarios and see what the convenience of BPO really means:

New Product Offerings

Being quick to jump on new trends in the market or roll out a great non-commodity bundle your marketing team just lined up, can sharply increase your sales volume each month. And knowing you can confidently get these changes to your sales team, and pull them back if they don’t work, is key to success.

BPO Company

Modern

First, submit a service ticket to the provider asking for the change.  Depending on volume, and your importance to the vendor, your product could be ready anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks or months later.

Once the product is ready, you must coordinate shipping the new contracts to your sales teams in the field and agree on the sale launch date and how you will track the bundled incentive.

Time elapsed: 1-4 weeks.

Log into your billing system and create the new product.  Set up the promo code, rates, and non-commodity incentive yourself.  Set the sales start date for today, or any day in the future, while you are at it.

Your sales partners receive the new product updates through API integration into their sales tools in the field.

Time elapsed: 30 minutes.

Billing Exceptions

Billing is perhaps the most critical back-office activity any retailer performs.  Miss a bill-window and your cashflow takes a hit while your churn rates and bad debt rise.  Send incorrect bills and find yourself in the news, or as the subject of a PUC complaint.

BPO Company

Modern

Billing is a black box.  You have no control over how billing exceptions are handled—or even what might cause that billing exception?

Missing a rate for part of the service period? High consumption? Wild swing from prior invoices? The BPO company will just use their judgement and make sure invoices go out.

Review your own invoices daily using a system configured to your exception management expectations.

If an account can’t invoice because of a critical error (like missing rates), you will find it quickly in the invoicing work queue. If the invoice can generate but it doesn’t pass the threshold test for something like high consumption, you’ll clearly see the issue and can decide yourself if the invoice should be released or have further research.

Collections Management

Managing your cashflow and controlling bad debt are critical to the financial success of your business.  But your debt collection needs can vary drastically across your customer segments.  High volume VIP customers demand a white glove approach and great leniency in the approach. High risk customers might require a faster approach.

BPO Company

Modern

Collections paths are predefined for mass-market and commercial customers.  You can provide the dollar amount and days past due thresholds.  But collections are essentially once size fits all. 

Define unlimited collections paths, with your own rules, to serve your diverse customer segments.

VIP customers can get friendlier letters and have call requests sent to a work queue for your high-value customer service team.

High Risk customers can be fast tracked with extra notices, exports to automated dialer systems and fast market drops.

Each of these issues can potentially have a major impact on the growth and financial success of your retail operations. And these are just the beginning.  Today’s modern solutions can still isolate your business from market rule changes.  But they can also empower you to differentiate yourself, control your own critical business decisions and let you give customers the great experience they deserve.

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Jennifer Moore is Vice President of Client Services at Znalytics