Les Torrance, Executive Director, Strategic Client Development, EMEA Global
Every company measures success in different ways, from increasing turnover and profit, to customer satisfaction.
SYKES is no different in that respect, measuring how we are doing financially and environmentally, and what our clients think of our service.
Traditionally, the outsourcing industry uses a relatively straightforward method called Voice of the Client (VOC).
It is, essentially, a questionnaire that each client fills in, which covers every aspect of the service being delivered.
This then allows the outsourcer to see where they are doing well and what should be improved.
If the right questions are asked and honest answers given, VOC offers an objective yardstick and an insight into what the team should better be concentrating on.
Importantly, of course, subsequent VOC surveys provide comparison if a troublesome aspect of service has been put right.
SYKES has long used VOC, but is also pioneering another measurement method unique in the outsourcing sector.
Introduced only three years ago, we now use Client Relationship Surveys (CRS) to calibrate the ratings of both parties.
The thinking behind it is that outsourcing is not simply about providing a good service at a reasonable price. It’s about enhancing our relationships with clients because, ultimately, we are an extension of their business.
They trust us to deliver against agreed objectives and, in dealing with their customers, also to protect and enhance the value of their brands.
The key difference with VOC is that CRS measures not only what the client thinks of our service but how good a job we think we are doing, which we can then jointly calibrate.
It’s therefore a more sophisticated methodology that not only objectively tracks each aspect of service delivery, but also introduces an element of the subjective.
CRS is a two-way process that compares the strength of the relationship at different stages of the journey, from the initial operation, through to steady-state service delivery and adding value as the relationship develops.
The survey takes place every six months with key participants on both sides and asks questions about baseline delivery, relationship, innovation and strategy.
CRS recognises that, in today’s business environment, needs rapidly change. Indeed, the most successful of our clients have agile business models that mean that our services must also constantly evolve.
We therefore have to understand our clients’ changing business strategies and, using human or technological innovation, support our clients each step of the way. CRS gives us another view to be sure we’re looking through the right lenses as we go forward.
CRS first measures such aspects as flexibility, proactiveness and consistency as well as ability to manage risk and compatibility with each participating client’s current and future needs.
We then look at innovation and how we’re doing in, for example, driving efficiencies, making improvements to process and service, and our investments in people.
We then ask a number of questions on strategy, looking at longer-term goals and vision and strategic planning.
The last part of the survey simply asks whether the client would recommend us or use us again.
Having asked lots of questions, the answers are then aggregated into a Scorecard that compares how the client rates us with our view on how we’re doing.
The enormous value of the scorecard is that it objectively measures every aspect of the client relationship, but subjectively highlights those areas where contributions are not aligned.
Over subsequent surveys, the aim is align our scores with those of the client and to lift lower rating to a higher level. In this way, expectations are better understood and delivered against.
By objectively and perceptively looking at the strength of the relationship, we have a way of not just measuring service delivery performance, but also accurately gauging how well the partnership is working.
The last part of the CRS process is moderation. A senior and independent member of our staff chairs a readout with key participants on both sides.
Everyone sees the scorecard and the issues highlighted. For example, a client-side participant may feel that we should communicate more, but be unaware that information has been shared and that someone hasn’t copied him or her in.
This is, therefore, about both the small things and the really big strategic things that drive corporate growth and profitability.
Ultimately, relationships are built on trust, and CRS gives us a powerful tool to better create client partnerships that are as strong as they possibly can be.
If you would like more information, please get in touch!