For the past two decades, I have worked for one of the giants of the customer service industry. Today I’m at Nearsol and enjoying my new role as the Chief Revenue Officer. Taking on a new challenge is always exciting, but with 2020 being such an unusual year, it’s even more exciting than I could have expected.
One of the main reasons I joined Nearsol was precisely because they are not one of the global customer experience (CX) giants. I have seen many colleagues change roles and find that they may have a new business card but many of the same problems. The time spent at a large BPO was extremely valuable, and I’m grateful for it, but I do think there is a lot more excitement in trying to energetically work to be a truly invested partner to my clients rather than just adding client number 501 to a list of logos on a slide. And by the way, this is a statement that applies to all of the big players in the industry, it’s not directed at any one in particular.
There are many advantages to smaller- to mid- scale partners when it comes to business relationships – I see this clearly on a daily basis now. I can see the agility and our ability to quickly adapt to a client, rather than forcing a client to adapt to a supplier’s process or contractual terms or inflated pricing. At the end of the day, what’s the big deal if you lose client number 501, you still have the other 500 to bolster you.
Smaller-sized and mid-sized firms might have revenue measured in millions, not billions, and that leads to what I believe are some real advantages to partnering with a company like Nearsol. Let’s list a few:
• Agility and flexibility: as mentioned, if a client needs something changed quickly, then we can just do it. We don’t need to check with headquarters or ensure that our global policy can be adjusted. If it’s good for the client and doesn’t cause mass chaos, then the right thing to do is just do it.
• Small Fish: all of our clients really matter – they are all important. They get more care, attention, and personal interaction from senior leaders in the business. At the major CX organizations, a smaller client is of much less importance and very likely not considered a priority for the powers that be within the suppler. How would that make you feel if your CX company is indifferent about keeping or bettering your business? An ongoing concern I hear from clients is that their current Big BPO partner doesn’t come to them regularly with thought leadership and new ideas. If you’re not one of the very biggest clients at those firms, you have no real relationship at the top of the organization. And that means when things go bad, you don’t have the relationship to make meaningful change.
• Priorities: our clients are our priority because they set the tone and direction for everything we do. Contrast that to the giants where they need to manage hundreds of thousands of people across dozens or even 100+ countries. Policy and conformity are more important with such large operations. And if you’re not the big fish as a client, when it comes right down to it, you just don’t matter as much. When the true big fish says to jump, and the big CX partner does, they often land right on top of the smaller fish…whether that means adding agents into training classes, implementing new projects or change management, or getting resources or available capacity in prime locations.
• Short term focus: we want to grow with our clients. We are happy to start small and grow, that’s less risky for our clients and allows the project to get nurtured and optimized when wrong turns are more easily correctable. Our focus is always on building a long-term relationship, not taking what we can this quarter so it can be reported quickly to shareholders. The big players fundamentally have this relentless…crushing…need to keep on beating quarterly targets, so they might not even be thinking about whether that’s right for you and where you want to be in 5 years.
• Leverage: if you’re not a “big fish” and you’re trying to hire a large CX firm, then how much leverage do you have over your new partner – just about zero. If you want to find a CX supplier that behaves more like a genuine business partner, then you need to look at a right-sized partner – we can be more flexible and we can listen to what you need rather than just shoehorning you into ‘general’ solutions and spare capacity. (Do you sometimes wonder why it is that the same tired locations get offered over and over to different clients?)
• Fair Pricing: We are focused on providing a market-competitive rate that’s not burdened with capabilities that you don’t need. Those can always be billed separately if needed down the road. Do you really want to be paying for multiple layers of overhead, subsidized locations in markets that are failing, “strategic initiatives and acquisitions” that may provide capabilities for some but often not for you? You can ask them to justify their rates or just ask a partner that values your business and is happy to be transparent over pricing.
Many of these differences are fairly obvious – you will see it in every large and small company relationship, but I do think that this is particularly important when it comes to customer service and experience. Your CX partner is critical. Your customers are talking to our team when they call for help – do you want us to think that your business is critical for our business or to just not really be bothered because your project is too small to worry about? Your CX partner is not like a regular supplier.
CX matters. This is how your customers see your brand. If you are not a giant-sized company with your own power and leverage, then you might want to think again when calling on the large CX firms and asking how they can improve your customer experience. Just imagine if the Covid-19 crisis hit your brand and you were only the 501st most important client to your CX supplier. Good luck when the time comes.
The drawbacks with the top tier customer service companies are numerous. The benefits of a smaller, more agile partner, should be considered seriously if you want to ensure that your CX partner truly wants to help you grow into the post-Covid future.
Much has been made in the past year about taking care of Main Street in addition to Wall Street. And there’s a reason for that. The small- to mid-sized companies are what makes the world go round. If you overlook the “mom and pop” retailer and always go straight to the Big Box store, you may just be missing out on a better and more worthwhile experience and someone who appreciates and attends to your business a whole lot more.
Get to know Nearsol on LinkedIn here. Please feel free to let me know what you think about the differences between large and small CX suppliers by leaving a comment here of you can also use my own LinkedIn profile to get in touch.