Keys To Successful Outsourcing: How To Make Your Clients Happy

March 24, 2013


How to keep outsourcing clients happy

Ever feel like your outsourcing partner just doesn’t “get” you, your product or your business?  Having worked with many different outsourcers across a few different industries, I have developed a good sense of what makes a good partner.  Here are a few things I wish all outsourcers understood about how to make clients happy.

Do Your Homework

While your client wants you to respond quickly, nothing is more frustrating than receiving work that wasn’t wanted in the first place.  Take some time to understand the product and the services your client wants from you.  Investing a day up front will save days of grief later.  Go through the package of work and ask good questions, especially if there is anything that wasn’t expected.  Hold a kick-off meeting with your client.  Find out what is important to your client and the product.  Ask for and analyze previous examples and share what you learned, just to make sure you are on the same page.  If there are no previous examples, create one from the work you have been asked to do and establish that as the benchmark.

Check Your Assumptions

This is particularly important during contract negotiation because no one likes hearing “it’s not in the contract” after it has been signed.  Even throughout the project, communicate often and check your assumptions as you go.  It’s better to spend a few minutes to check in than have to redo a bunch of work because the assumption was wrong. Work with your client to set up a schedule for regular communications to make sure you talk more than just when “things come up”.

Help Us Help You

Good customer service practices tell you to adapt to whatever your customer wants.  While it is important to be flexible and adapt, there naturally has to be a limit to still be able to work effectively.  As an outsourcing partner, you have the benefit of working with many different clients and learning what works or doesn’t work for your team.  Understand what are your best practices and don’t be afraid to suggest them to your clients.  As long as you use templates and practices as a starting point, rather than a required form of bureaucracy, there is a good chance we may appreciate the suggestion.  If you need anything from your client to work better, ask for it.  Do not assume that we know what you need.

Be Transparent And Ask For The Same

While you never want your clients to know about all your dirty laundry, you are kidding yourself if you think that your client can’t see when something is wrong.  We can tell if you are balancing multiple projects, having problems with the work or experiencing staffing problems.  May as well be professional, let your client know about your challenges, what you are doing about it and if there is anything you need from your client to help you succeed.  On the same token, you also know when your client is stressed, unhappy or less responsive than usual.  Ask if they can share what is going on and find out if there is anything you can do to help.  Knowing what is happening on your client’s side will also help you adapt your services to their needs.

Learn The Language

Every company, every industry uses particular words, acronyms and phrases.  Sometimes one word or phrase means different things to different people.  Learn your client’s lingo and be sure to explain any  particular words or phrases you use.  If you are working with clients in other countries, it is best to use plain, simple English (or your common working language).  Avoid slang and colloquialisms. Otherwise you will spend all your time, just trying to figure out what everyone is talking about.

As a client, is there anything else you want your outsourcing partners to understand?  Please share your experiences in the comments.

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About Liza Wood

After a dozen years leading video game development projects in a variety of roles, I decided to pursue a Master of Data Science at the University of British Columbia. Studying data science doesn’t mean I’m moving away from leading people. Growing data science teams need collaborative, pragmatic, Agile leadership to connect data to all areas of the business. I would like to share that point of view, along with my experiences, on this blog.

View all posts by Liza Wood

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