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With public stock market levels hitting all-time highs, private equity firms face increasing pressure from more sophisticated investors to better manage program costs and deliver stronger returns.
Bain and Company makes this point in its Global Private Equity Report 2016, stating:
General partners (GPs) who serve PE firms should “examine the cost reductions and the revenue-enhancing adjustments that their portfolio companies can make now to squeeze everything they can out of their top and bottom lines.
“Putting every aspect of operations under a cost X-ray, they look for ways to work with suppliers and cut overhead to maximize savings….”
Granted, call center or contact center outsourcing might not be at the top of a managing partner’s list for savings and increased revenue. In fact, it might not even show up at all.
Managing partners, however, would do well to explore the potential benefits that optimized business process outsourcing (BPO) can bring.
Private equity firms working with portfolio companies ought to consider these five things:
One place private equity firms can better manage program costs and deliver stronger returns is the area of customer service. If your portfolio company has an in-house call center, take a hard look at its operational costs and benefits. There’s better ROI to be had there. And returns can be achieved in varying degrees.
Perhaps, outside BPO expertise would complement an existing team, elevating its overall performance. Or, if need be, the entire function can be turn-keyed.
Fact is, staffed services require office space, ongoing training, equipment outlay, and often, employee benefits. What’s more, such service usually is considered peripheral to the core business.
By contrast, the contact center provider that takes on a company’s customer service specializes in the work—and is geared to do it better and more economically.
Additionally, an outsourcer that uses a remote contractor model eliminates employee overhead and infrastructure costs.
Private equity firms also can find stronger returns and savings by improving efficiencies and optimizing business performance.
To optimize customer service performance, agents and solutions need to be backed by better processes, consistently honed to produce measurable results.
A premier U.S. provider of student loans embodies that idea after working with a consulting firm, The LAB, to streamline and improve its call center processes.
The goal: Reduce costs. Maintain service effectiveness. Accommodate volume increases.
A fully optimized contact center or call center operation provides increased scalability, enabling a private equity firm’s portfolio company to further leverage savings and returns.
Supported by an on-demand network of remote agents, a company’s customer service can flex up or down, as needs dictate. This includes scaling for cyclical surges and planned growth.
For instance, a New York City-based retailer needed to expand its presence and increase revenue through digital sales. Local agents to support the company’s call center were too expensive and in short supply.
From its U.S-based network of 110,000+ agents, Working Solutions scaled to meet a 300% increase in seasonal demand. Agents also reduced labor costs, increased revenue and improved service.
An on-demand model ensures flexibility. With built-in responsiveness, agents are called in as needed—at a moment’s notice, from anywhere across the United State. Such a feat isn’t easily done, if ever, by a more rigid, facility-based call center.
Another way private equity firms can cut costs and boost returns is by increasing productivity, which in turn, drives savings.
One critical area to examine is in the actual work and measured output of customer service agents themselves.
Experience shows that facility-based call center agents work, at most, only about 40 minutes for every hour clocked and billed. Working or not, they’re in their seats, on the clock—with charges adding up. Right off, that’s a 33% productivity loss.
Contrary to what some might think: Work-at-home agents are more productive than their facility-based counterparts. Especially those paid by the minute, which is a more favorable ROI model for clients.
That’s because these agents only get paid for time spent on a call or in service, not for sitting idle on the client’s dime. Plus, they are not distracted by office co-workers.
Finally, private equity firms can get a better handle on costs and returns by elevating overall business value.
At Working Solutions, agent performance is monitored to achieve specific client metrics. Analytical tools, managed through a talent portal, ensure quality and drive bigger financial returns.
For example, the new CEO of an office products company planned to cut costs and lower overhead companywide. A comprehensive solution was designed that:
To improve a private equity portfolio company’s performance, managing partners should explore an obvious place to streamline the business–call center operations.
How can contact center outsourcers be more efficient and effective than in-house teams?
Because they leverage economies of scale, access deep pools of talent and provide fast-flex solutions. These capabilities enable a private equity managing partner to spend less and achieve more. And that’s now more important than ever.
As PWC reports: “GPs are now at a crossroads and must decide whether in-sourcing or outsourcing back office functions is the right decision.”
New efficiencies, reduced costs and stronger returns can be achieved with a proven provider, such as Working Solutions, that knows how to partner with private equity firms to deliver improved ROI.