Ready to outsource your call center, customer service or another business process, but not sure where to find the right partner for your business?
Choosing the right nearshoring company for your business doesn’t have to be a mystery. In fact, there’s just a few important variables you need to look for—and some equally important ones to avoid. Rather than trying to weigh every single option, we’re here to help you make sense of which ones matter most for the long run.
What to look for when choosing a nearshoring company
When choosing a nearshoring company, many companies focus primarily on finding a company who can provide them the services they need at the lowest cost possible. However, competing solely on cost is a losing game. Although cost is certainly an important element of any business partnership, there’s a number of other important variables to look out for when considering which nearshoring company to partner with.
Experience within your industry
This is an often overlooked quality when choosing a nearshoring company. It’s important to find a nearshoring company that has experience within your industry, whether that’s banking, retail, IT or something else altogether.
In addition to general experience with your industry and your demographic of customers, it’s also a good idea to make sure that your potential nearshoring partner has proven experience driving results for companies like yours, or those within your industry. After all, experience doesn’t mean much if it can’t drive results.
To determine the experience and quality of your nearshoring company, look for:
- case studies on their website that demonstrate results they’ve driven or systems they’ve implemented.
- testimonials from current or past clients.
- look at their website or other content to get a sense of their knowledge, processes and solutions. Does their expertise seem evident?
If a nearshoring company has excellent experience, results and testimonials, it’s almost certain that they have a talented team as well. However, ensuring that team members are well-trained and good at what they do is a great cross-check for overall experience.
After all, it’s their team members who will be interacting with your customers day in and day out. When evaluating a nearshoring company as a potential partner, it’s important to understand how they recruit, hire and train employees.
For example, at ROI Solutions, we have specialized HR teams, including recruiters, at local nearshore organizations that focus solely on initial candidate interviews, candidate background checks and English proficiency evaluations. All final employee candidates are also reviewed by both local and US-based leadership. Our process ensures that we create and employ a high-quality team that can care for your customers and supplement your business operations with excellence.
Effective management and communication
Finally, when choosing a nearshoring company, look for a company that has effective management and communication.
Communication can easily be assessed during the search process. For example:
- How easy is it to connect with them when you have questions? How thorough are their answers to your questions?
- How easy or difficult is it to schedule a call or an in-person meeting?
- When you meet together, do you feel understood? Are your questions answered clearly? Is any follow-up information or paperwork sent promptly after the meeting, or do you have to follow-up multiple times to get what you need?
These things are often overlooked in the search process in favor of prioritizing cost or features, but if communication is difficult during the search process, it almost certainly won’t get easier once you sign a contract. And difficult communication or poor management will not only slow down your workflow, but will hamper results for your team.
One of the biggest benefits of hiring a nearshore call center is to take advantage of bilingual or multilingual language capabilities. For companies who want to outsource processes like customer service or customer support, nearshoring can be a great balance of bilingual support and proficient English.
For example, agents in nearshoring companies in places like Mexico, Puerto Rico and Canada are typically fluent in English and very familiar with American culture. Many of them will have lived, worked or studied for some time in the US as well. However, they’re also often fluent in Spanish, French or Portuguese—languages that are becoming increasingly common for US customers as well as global companies.
If your company is global or multinational, ensure that your nearshoring partner has agents with both proficient English skills as well as proficiency in other languages that are important for your markets. Being able to scale your customer service with the same nearshoring partner will be a huge benefit.
Technical and support needs
Of course, you also need a company that can effectively meet your needs and provide results for your current goals. Each nearshoring company will likely offer slightly different services and specialities, so it’s important to get clear on what your goals and needs are before going into the process, so you can look for a nearshoring company with these things in mind.
In addition to services and support offerings, technological support and expertise is also an essential factor in a good partner. Ensure that any potential partners use and are trained in best-in-class technology and are able to integrate into your current technology stack, as relevant.
As you look for nearshoring partners that can drive results for your goals, be sure to:
- Look at the FAQ or services pages on their website to ensure they have experience with and processes for the types of nearshoring support you’ll need. For example, if they’re an award-winning call center, but you’re looking for omnichannel support, it might not be a match.
- See if they focus mostly on their domestic market or US-based, global or multinational businesses. Smaller, more locally-focused nearshoring companies may lack larger technological solutions or be more unfamiliar with US-based laws, policies and procedures.
- Ask about their technology stack and how it will integrate with your current tools and products. The onboarding process will be much smoother and faster if your nearshoring partner has the technological solutions to integrate seamlessly into your current processes.
What to avoid when choosing a nearshoring company
Just as important in knowing what to look for is knowing what to avoid. All too often, it’s easy to get caught up in bells and whistles while missing key red flags that will cause trouble down the line in a partnership.
As such, here’s what to be aware of and take care to avoid when choosing a nearshoring company.
Not doing your research and planning in advance
Too often, companies are busy and choose an outsourcing vendor based on a limited number of criteria that ends up with them stuck in unproductive partnerships. As a result, they end up wasting more time and money than had they carefully chosen a beneficial partner in the first place.
However, given that you’re reading this article, you already are well on your way to completing this first step. Ensure that you’re doing the proper research and planning before choosing a nearshoring company by:
- Comparing companies and vendors in multiple nearshoring locations to understand the options, services and prices available to you
- Weighting the importance of various selection criteria as it relates to your company, to ensure you give appropriate weight to the most important variables
- Discuss onboarding, implementation and performance expectations before you sign a contract, to avoid any unpleasant surprises or key missing pieces too late.
The more work you can do upfront to ensure you’re aligned in terms of performance, results, goals, solutions, and so on, the better.
Lack of experience or testimonials
A lack of experience or testimonials doesn’t just signal that the company might be new to the industry, but can signal all kinds of other problems:
- a lack of long-term partnerships
- difficulty securing or keeping clients
- high turnover among agents, causing lagging experience
- ineffective processes or systems
In addition, overlooking the fact that a specific outsourcing vendor lacks experience in your industry can mean that your results take longer to materialize. After all, each industry has its own best practices and what works for one industry may not work for another.
Finally, don’t overlook certifications—or lack thereof—from an outsourcing partner. For example, any call center or customer service outsourcing should have, at minimum, certified PCI compliance. Of course, in some industries, such as healthcare or banking, there are other certifications that are a must as well (such as HIPAA compliance). Other certifications are a sign that this vendor really has experience you can trust.
Not aligning on culture or values
While tangible variables such as cost and services are often emphasized during the selection process, don’t forget about important intangible benefits as well! For call center and customer service outsourcing, this is particularly important, as soft skills such as empathy and patience can make or break a customer service experience.
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As a result, it’s essential to ensure that your outsourcing partner is aligned with you in terms of culture and values. For a long-term partnership, cultural fit is a must so your outsourcing partners can accurately reflect and represent your brand.
To ensure you align on culture and values, try:
- Having a representative from the outsourcing partner visit your company to meet and talk with various stakeholders about your values, processes and systems
- Visiting the outsourcing center yourself to observe their working environment. Talk to several of the agents yourself about their processes and culture.
- Share any culture or vision documents with your outsourcing partner for alignment, and talk through any potential areas of difficulty or conflict.
Choosing based on cost only
Choosing an outsourcing partner purely based on cost is a losing game. While nearshoring is often a significantly more cost-effective option than onshoring or managing a team in-house, outsourcing should be considered a long-term investment in key areas of your business.
You want to ensure that you are choosing the best partner that can deliver your results, and not just the cheapest option. After all, the old adage holds true in this case as well: you get what you pay for. When negotiating your contract, make sure to compare multiple nearshoring vendors against one another to ensure you’re getting a fair price, but don’t be tempted to simply choose the cheapest option. You should also make sure you:
- understand what your contract includes and costs, including any extra or hidden fees
- consider the cost of living in the different nearshoring locations available to you
- take into account the expected ROI and long-term business growth as a result of investing in outsourcing—and the possible losses resulting from an incompetent partner.
Overlooking location as an important variable
In today’s globalized world and economy, it can be easy to overlook location as insignificant when choosing an outsourcing partner, but that is a mistake. Location plays a large role in a successful outsourcing partnership, and understanding which locations will and won’t work for your needs is essential.
- Will differing time zones make communication inefficient?
- How far away can a partner be without sacrificing ease of travel and the ability to quickly visit the office as needed?
- How does their location impact their understanding of your audience’s culture and language? If your audience is largely English-speaking US residents, how familiar are they with US language nuances and culture?
- How does this location influence their understanding of US law and policy? Are they familiar with, and certified in, US-based laws and compliance?
Nearshoring is a great way to partner with a slightly cheaper outsourcing partner while also ensuring their location is geographically and culturally close to your headquarters. However, even with nearshoring, not all locations are created equal, so do your research before choosing your partner!
Nearshoring vs Offshoring vs Onshoring
Choosing between nearshoring, offshoring and onshoring can be difficult. Which is best? The answer depends on which is best for your company’s needs and goals—but to determine that, it can be helpful to understand the differences between them, and the pros and cons of each.
Offshoring Pros & Cons
Offshoring refers to call center outsourcing or other BPO to a country that is located far from your company’s country of business. For example, a US-based company might have an offshore call center in the Philippines. While there are pros and cons for each type of outsourcing, offshoring is usually a very inexpensive option and is often chosen as a way to provide customer service without much budget.
- much less expensive than hiring in-house or domestically
- high number of workers available allows for large-scale operations
- many offshore workers are multilingual
- often offer a wide range of affordable services
- cultural and linguistic barriers often cause frustration for customers
- there may be a lower level of expertise or less advanced technological solutions
- data privacy may be a concern
Onshoring Pros & Cons
Onshoring refers to call center or other BPO outsourcing that is located within the same country as the business outsourcing. So, for example, a New York-based business may outsource their customer service to an onshore call center in Arizona.
- little to no concern about language barriers
- easier travel if needed
- agents will be more familiar with your audience’s culture and communication styles
- less concern about data privacy or other compliance concerns as another US-based company
The main drawback of onshoring is the cost. From people to overhead costs, equipment and technology, onshore call centers cost more on almost every front. However, for some companies, the expense is justifiable given the benefits.
Nearshoring Pros & Cons
Nearshoring refers to outsourcing that takes place in a country different from that of the original business, but one that is nearby. For the US, this could mean Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, or other Latin or South American countries. Nearshoring is becoming an increasingly popular outsourcing option due to its balance between quality and cost-effectiveness.
- more cost-effective that onshoring
- many agents will be bilingual in languages that are important to your customers
- offers more linguistic and cultural connections to US audiences
- closer time zones than offshoring, often similar to onshoring
- easier to travel to if necessary
- not as affordable at scale as offshore call centers
- limited to specific geographic areas, may be fewer options for human resources
Ultimately, you have to weigh the variables and qualities that are most important for your business and choose an outsourcing partner accordingly. And while many companies now prefer nearshoring for their business outsourcing, it’s still essential to choose your nearshoring company carefully. Your nearshoring partner needs to have a balance of expertise, affordability, top talent and proven results.
If you’re interested in a nearshoring partner that can provide world-class solutions and trustworthy results at a price you can afford, contact ROI Solutions today to speak to one of our call center experts.