Having discussed IT and BPO offshore operations from the clients perspective, it’s now time to look at it from the suppliers side. Your comments will be appreciated.
When organisations are asked how they value their offshore IT or BPO supplier, did you expect they will focus on cost, project management and availability of skilled resources?
Wrong! It’s all about trust.
Therefore, offshore suppliers who like to grow their business, should focus on building and maintaining trust.
1. Long term
Long term offshore IT or BPO contracts are definitely more profitable for the supplier than short term contracts, due to start-up cost, transition cost and potential cost optimisation. Trust is crucial for long term contracts. Therefore invest in trust and you will be paid back.
2. Market knowledge
IT and BPO services markets in Germany, UK, Sweden, France and NL are very different and so is the mentality and the way of doing business. Trying to enter these markets without sufficient preparation may not work. Find a guide with local knowledge and ask for help.
3. Local representative
The majority of the new offshore clients fear the unknown. Fear may be minimised by a local representative , a local legal entity, a local office address and – most importantly – face-to-face meetings. Part time/low cost solutions exist.
4. Offshore staff
Although a local representative may be important for the first steps, your (offshore) staff should be engaged as early in the process as possible. They are crucial for the client to get the feeling ‘I can understand and trust these people’.
5. Personal relations
Personal relations are crucial for building trust, both on senior management level as on operational/technical level. Face-to-face meetings at least twice a year are essential. Key contact persons should show the attitude ‘Your problem is my problem. Don’t worry, I’ll solve it.’ Therefore they need to be aware of all events and issues on both sides.
6. Coach your client
Your client is probably less experienced in the offshore process than you are and needs a coach. Why not you? Take your client by the hand and tell him what to do. Not to maximise your revenue but to make your client feel comfortable and trust you.
New clients often propose: business analysis onshore and execution offshore. As a supplier you shouldn’t accept this, since the required detailed instructions are usually not available. And it doesn’t utilise the valuable experience of your senior managers and analysts. Insist to involve your seniors from the beginning of a project. The client will benefit from it.
8. First in communication
If an issue arises, don’t think your client won’t notice. Contact your client asap. This will create the feeling the client doesn’t need to be awake all the time, since you are awake. This is the most important action for creating trust. If you wait until the client contacts you about an issue, you’re too late.
9. Propose solutions
If there is a problem, propose solutions before the client will ask you. Even when solutions are difficult and far from obvious, there will be a best solution or approach.
Try to take the attitude ‘your problem is my problem’.
Your basic attitude is politeness, since you like to maintain a long term relation with your client.
Your client may not like being criticised for wrong decisions. Therefore you may hesitate criticising your client. However this is short term thinking. After a while your client will realise you saved him from potential problems. Next time he will probably call you for advice. In other words he will trust you.
11. Avoid replacements
If your client trusts you, congratulations! Find out which employees have played a crucial role in building the trust. The worst thing you can do now is replacing the ‘trusted’ employees by others.