Anyone who’s ever worked in a business process outsourcing company knows what kind of stress incubators they are – these huge hives full of miscellaneous workers buzzing around in havoc, trying to satisfy the never-ending streamline of requests, definitely aren’t meant for people who like their days to flow at a steady pace.
Living and working like this involves significant pressure for the agents, however, little to no attention is given to BPO managers, who, most of the time, act in a vacuum between their workers – who more often than not dislike their “bosses”, clients – who frankly don’t care, and senior management who don’t seem to have much understanding of the situation “below”.
We have talked to several managers who admitted to having similar struggles, and drew out their most common nightmares and causes of trouble. Additionally, we have tried to provide you with possible solutions, or at least guidelines, on how to leverage these challenges and make your life at least a little easier.
Struggle No. 1: Employee Motivation and Employee Attrition
These two seem to be reciprocal – the less motivated and dedicated your team gets, the higher the attrition rates you can expect. This is because the nature of the job in most BPOs requires far more effort and resourcefulness to keep staff motivated to complete their work than any other industry. This is, after all, understandable – the working hours are uncommon, requests seem to never end, and possibilities for both personal and professional growth in the long-run are limited. However, there are many positive sides to working for an outsourcing company, and it is these that you should focus on and highlight in your everyday communication, in order to keep your people content and motivated.
Since all business operations in a BPO rely entirely on people, it is crucial to understand the factors that might cause their dissatisfaction, as well as their motivation, and to act accordingly. If you want to further explore this topic, and you definitely should, take a look at our previous post about what satisfies and what motivates your employees the most, and try to draw some benefits in regard to your own company culture.
Struggle No. 2: Employee Monitoring
Each responsibility comes with a flip side of the coin, and in your case, it’s the perk of being a “bad cop”. By communicating with clients, employees in a BPO directly represent their company, thus placing pressure on managers to always know what their people are doing and how effective they are. Of course, some privacy norms must be respected, but as long as the usage of company computers and client correspondence are involved, you have the right and the responsibility to monitor your team. Thankfully, technology today is advanced enough to provide you with elegant solutions that will not bother your employees, nor hinder their work. Automatic time-tracking software such as WorkPuls can silently work in the background on your employees’ computers, tracking which websites, programs and applications were used, when, and for how long throughout the day; as well as how active or absent from their computer each employee was – all of this without jeopardizing employees’ privacy.
WorkPuls is remote employee monitoring software also. It is completely legal, ethical, incredibly simple to use, and quite cheap compared to the possible calamities it helps to prevent. It also tracks employee productivity and generates productivity-related reports, which can further help the HR department, or be made available to clients on request. It’s like a cyber assistant that knows what’s going on at any moment, at all times, and it never forgets or hides anything from you.
Struggle No. 3: Employee Health & Work/Life Balance
Like every caring parent, you too have the responsibility of looking after your BPO “family”. Most of outsourcing companies are situated in regions which come under different time zones, hence employees often work at all times of the day; not to mention the unhealthy sedentary position that, on especially busy days, can last for hours. This can result in major health concerns among your team, and consequently can drastically reduce their productivity, which is why providing gym memberships and adequate healthcare plans for most BPOs are a must-do. However, it is known that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so another part of your job is to make sure that everyone gets evenly distributed free days, and not too many night shifts. This isn’t an easy task, especially as teams get bigger; and when you add shift switching due to sick days, employees’ mutual arrangements, and other unforeseen circumstances that should be taken into account as well – it turns into a darn disaster.
Luckily for both manager and employees, technology once again saves the day with its endless solutions – on the market you can find many, such as Humanity‘s employee scheduling software, which can save you an incredible amount of time when it comes to shift planning, and probably create many more convenient solutions that will keep everyone satisfied.
Struggle No. 4: Customer Satisfaction and Customer Retention
Achieving complete customer satisfaction has always been a difficult challenge for all BPO companies, and with digital and social channels reshaping customer expectations and increasing competition in the market, customer expectations continue to go through the roof and become ever more difficult to meet. Furthermore, with evolving customer expectations, customer attrition tends to increase. At some point of the project the client may just terminate the deal and hand the project over to your competitor, for a variety of reasons. The cost of a sudden termination such as this can be significant and can affect most BPO companies to a large extent, which is why it’s extremely important for managers to maintain these relations on a high level, and identify the causes of each lost customer. Though sometimes it’s simply force of nature and there’s nothing you could do, most of the time the root cause lies with something within the company itself.
It could be the mistake(s) of an employee, a communication problem, missed deadlines, or something else – but even when it’s not directly your fault, it is still your responsibility; therefore, you are the one who should recognize the problem and act accordingly. Whether it’s additional training, replacing an employee, stricter control, or simply alerting senior management to the current issues that may be beyond your competency, make sure that you did all that you could, indirectly as well as directly, and you will know how to react in the event that a potentially unwanted situation may arise.