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Default Syndrome: You Picked The Wrong Vendor

Size matters in the call center industry and if you select an outsourcer that is too big or too small, there will be a price to pay.  

After a decade of helping companies find their best performing call center providers, I’m still seeing too many clients choosing the wrong outsourcers (vendors). And while vendors are selected for a myriad of reasons, I want to focus on size for the purpose of this discussion.

Here’s a Real World Situation

A company with a total outsourcing need of 50 seats, places all of their business with a big BPO (with 30,000 seats worldwide) and expects white glove treatment. The client is won over by the BPO’s sugary pitch and hefty promises, i.e., corporate sales vapor. Although the red flags started flying during the contracting and on-boarding process, it took the client nearly a year to understand that they had been deprioritized from day one. After a protracted period of correction attempts, coupled with unbridled frustration, the client finally concluded that the wrong-sized vendor had been selected.

Friends, this client suffers from Default Syndrome, a serious condition which affects many outsourcing buyers. Default occurs when smaller clients select big vendors, expecting high-touch services and performance, only to be let down. The onset of “default” is acute and can lead to serious consequences for your career and company. Boutique-sized outsourcing needs are a mismatch for large vendors, especially if you demand close collaboration and proactive support. You will be left with an indelible scar resulting from the selection error.

Watch: Size Matters in Call Center Vendor Selection

Let’s go back to our client above. By the time they decided to move the business to a smaller provider, they had already become skeptical of outsourcers and outsourcing. It makes you wonder how this “baggage” would impact the new outsourcing relationship and overall experience itself. With all due respect, the wound was self inflicted. Maybe the client inherited the big vendor or maybe they were somehow convinced that big equals best. In reality, your outsourcing need has to be right sized and matched perfectly with a vendor partner who will bridge the gap between size and flexibility and treat your account like a Faberge egg - with great care.

Breaking Down Notions

In the outsourced BPO service provider world, client servicing is a resource allocation game and the loudest, largest clients invariably get the most attention and the best talent assigned to their account. Detractors might disagree but this is a proven fact in our industry.

If your outsource needs are only 200 seats and you place all of that business with a big vendor that has 20,000 seats then you’re 1% of their business. Do you honestly believe that you’re maximizing your ROI from this model? Sure, the BPO might provide decent support but is “decent” your ultimate goal? Of course not. “Decent” means mediocre. Still, far too many small and mid-sized outsourcing buyers default to larger outsourcers because “Nobody gets fired for hiring IBM, right”?

There seems to be a notion that only bigger outsourcers can offer risk mitigation, financial stability, compliance and controls. This is a myth and it leads to incorrect vendor selection decisions. Mid-sized and smaller providers offer equally robust if not better and more forward-thinking solutions. And smaller providers are generally more nimble and open to customized solutions.

Let me point out here that most big vendors are impressive organizations. If you’re sourcing thousands of agent headcount, then size and horsepower are needed, combined with top performance and quick scalability. But even the largest outsourcing buyers in our industry are diversifying to bona fide mid-sized vendors in order to mitigate the risk of having one or more big vendors control too much of their business.

The Simple Cure

There is a simple cure for Default Syndrome, which requires you to let go of the notion that a vendor’s size equates to quality of performance. This simply isn’t true. After helping clients source thousands of seats with over $1 billion in outsourcing investment, I can’t begin to tell you how many have right-sourced and transitioned their businesses into success with our guidance. Unfortunately for them, this often comes after suffering through a painful experience caused by initially defaulting to the wrong vendors.

The vendor landscape is changing daily but one thing remains constant— you have to be honest about where your business fits in the vendor’s enterprise. You can continue on, getting “decent” results, sitting quietly in the default cluster with the mediocre stock. Or you can make good, solid outsourcing decisions that will get you phenomenal results and allow you to celebrate the way you were meant to...in the winner’s circle!

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