• Stuart Daddo-Langlois

How BPO Addresses the Trade Services Conundrum

To some the word outsourcing conjures up a vision of utopia – cost savings, reduced administrative overhead etc. A single throat to choke in a contracted arrangement. To others, it conjures up a visceral fear, a gut-wrenching idea of impending job loss. Strip away this reaction and what remains is a simple business discussion. Cost reduction set against productivity gains.

Perhaps one of the least well addressed areas of service delivery is that of warranty and installation. Many approaches have been tried with varying degrees of success.

The original approach and one that is still mightily effective, is to retain a network of service delivery personnel specifically trained to service the products sold. The downside is both cost and coverage. Maintaining a network of employees, particularly in remote areas gets hugely expensive for limited returns.

A simple alternative is to outsource the whole service delivery operation placing the resourcing and cost model in someone else’s lap and let them worry about it. Ultimately this doesn’t solve the problem and if we are honest with ourselves it just impacts the service. Staff are unsure of their future whilst outsourcers reduce headcount to cut costs but often lose process knowledge and therefore service capability.

So how to reduce cost, maintain coverage, maintain service levels and retain control? One answer is Business Process Outsourcing or BPO. Identify and outsource the process but retain the staff in related roles to provide oversight.

When considering installation and warranty services the tried and tested solution to the coverage issue is to engage a network of trade services subcontractors. The people change but the process remains. But therein lies the problem - the process is the thing that needs to be optimized. To retain control of the operation the business process must be structured, codified, automated. Once done, the subcontractors can be managed in a way that is repeatable to high standard and without significant cost overheads.

Easier said than done. There are so many things that need to be considered: -

  • Statutory compliance – are the subcontractors correctly licensed under the jurisdiction in which they operate?

  • Scheduling – what mechanism is used to allocate jobs and how are consumers informed?

  • Capacity – do they have the staff to meet local demand?

  • Coverage – how many subcontractors are needed?

  • KPIs – how quickly are allocated tasks actioned? Do they meet KPIs?

  • Payment – is there a standardized process for streamlining payment to subcontractors?

  • Satisfaction – how is consumer satisfaction with the scheduled task measured? 

  • Spare Parts – how are spare parts allocated, tracked, restocked?

  • Returns – what process is in place for subcontractors to request return authorization?

  • Escalation – how are tasks escalated when deadlines are missed, or RA’s requested?

The list of challenges is almost endless and since this is the case, companies looking to outsource processes like subcontractor management may end up using an intermediary to manage the network for them. This can be no bad thing, especially if value add services such a call handling and triage are included in the mix.

Simply handing the problem off to a third party doesn’t necessarily change the fundamentals of the need for control, accountability and efficiency.

This is where Beehiive Software comes into its own. Designed from the ground up to address the management of subcontractors and the delivery of ad hoc services, Beehiive’s cloud based, multi-tenant application platform automates the business processes that enable streamlined service delivery.

Applying smart analytics and process automation, Beehiive drives service delivery according to defined business processes, ensuring that service delivery meets high standards, in a defined, repeatable manner.

The result is great customer satisfaction, streamlined service delivery, cost reduction, reduced levels of subcontractor turnover and improved levels of managerial insight. All-in-all, a step up from traditional outsourcing models through intelligent automation and BPO. 

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