Since it burst onto the scene, outsourcing has been inextricably linked with upgrading the customer experience. But companies that initially turned to external providers to boost the quality of their help desks soon began transplanting their outsourcing strategy to other functions. The impact of outsourcing sent ripples throughout the enterprise, reaching into—and enhancing—customer relationships. Diego Rosenfeld, Consulting Principal at RSM, points out that “It’s very hard to deliver high-quality support at a help desk without having a lot of capacity, very good tools, and a tiering process.”
Those same proficiencies add value in other realms. The ability of service providers to keep bringing additional skills and efficiencies to different dimensions—from enhancing the flexibility of a company’s IT infrastructure to widening the scope of its innovation efforts—help sustain competitive differentiation. The outsourcing strategy, having first taken root in lower-value functions like payroll processing, blossomed into a potent tool in the high-stakes drive to claim new customers and maximize existing ones.
As companies work to map a steady strategy in a dizzying business environment, there’s abundant value in having a partner that can provide support and expertise. Customers have every reason to retreat from an enterprise with a wobbly technological backbone. Jim Lynch, Vice President of Human Resources and Internet Technology at U.S. Vets, says that the non-profit’s clients were ill-served by the fact that “every day there would be three of our sites down. It was just a continual pain in the neck.” In 2014, the organization started outsourcing. U.S. Vets, says Lynch, has “transitioned to an organization totally on the cloud. It’s much more reliable, and everyone’s happy.”
Technologically, as companies have had to stake out new platforms—from the cloud to mobile to social—they’ve needed to adapt while still expanding their customer base. “You need a partner who will invest in technology that surpasses the client’s expectations,” says Rosenfeld.
The impact of having such a partner reinforces customer loyalty, continuously fine-tuning the customer experience. Using a state-of-the-art service provider to manage infrastructure reduces costs, of course, but it also increases flexibility. While rooting out inefficiency—traditionally touted as the top benefit of such arrangements—outsourcing equips companies to be more responsive, a competitive edge in a marketplace populated by ever-demanding customers and ever-proliferating competitors. Companies bombarded with feedback, for example, can outsource the analysis of that data—structured and unstructured, originating on social media or in operations—to a service provider with high-powered software to distill it into valuable insights that can improve the customer journey.