Your Outsourced Agency: Release the Stigma!

Posted

image

It’s been a difficult road for outsourced and offshore agencies over the years. I’ve seen most agencies try embracing the whole “ignorance is bliss” concept and say that it doesn’t bother them because “we still have clients and we make revenue.”

They’re absolutely right.

These agencies do have amazing clients and this has been a small step in the right direction, but we both know there’s more we can do to eliminate the “dirty word connotation.” With outsourced, there are also offshore and nearshore agencies, and if you’re an international agency this mean’s an even larger stigma. So where is the stigma now and how can your agency outsource themselves respectively?

Where’s the stigma now?

Agency outsourcing has received a lot of attention in political circles and media in recent days. In fact, in just six months, ranging between March and August 2013, there were 2,635 reports in US newspapers on service outsourcing – most of them focusing on the fear of job loss. In particular, there have been reports about jobs moving from developed countries such as US to developing economies such as India.

These concerns are not limited to the US. Similar reports were released in other developed nations such as UK; which released 380 reports on outsourcing in its newspapers during the same period. Media outlets in Australia have also published similar reports. 

There isn’t one sole reason businesses are against outsourcing to your agency.

Some feel that outsourcing is unnecessary or a sign of weakness. “If a business cannot do it on its’ own, then there might be something wrong,” they argue. Others feel that outsourcing may result to loss of control and lack of transparency, “In-house development is the new trend, look Google does it- we need 1 or 2 developers!”

Regardless of the reason there are some things we need to face. With the rapid changes in IT and other business functions we are currently witnessing, trying to handle innovations such as cloud computing, app development, and every other change in a business’ industry internally is the surest way to lag behind the competition forever. 

While it’s little known, outsourcing, if well managed, has a positive face will little negative impacts. For instance, remember the Apple IBM Global Partnership this past July? The terms are: Apple will gain by outsourcing the 24 hours customer support that IBM has developed over the years, and IBM will obtain key software support from Apple. Apple will have more time to dedicate to development of devices – as already evidenced by iPhone 6 and the soon to come Apple Smartwatch. 

The #1 benefit of businesses outsourcing to an agency like yours is: it eliminates the need for businesses to maintain an in-house team of developers and the cost associated with training their own indoor team. 

Clearly, outsourcing to agencies like yours pays but what are the best approaches to outsourcing respectively? 

How can you outsource your agency respectively and avoid those misconceptions? We’ve thought of some of our own below, but we really want to hear from you.

  • Work with someone you know, and get referrals. It’s all about creating valuable relationships despite peoples’ preconceived notions and good referrals from “someone who knows someone” is the best way to do it. It’s a butterfly effect you don’t want to lose
  • Have technical answers and a FAQ: This one doesn’t just apply to outsourced agencies but often the same questions pop up time over time again when in the “lead stage.” Use something like Zendesk or BeSnappy and have it up during client meetings. Not having the “right” answer to those questions can give your outsourced or offshore agency a bad name. And remember when we just talked about referrals? There’s a butterfly of bad recommendations there.
  • Have a clear contract: Be clear what you are responsible for and what your client is responsible for. Make sure everything between you and your client is agreed and written down from the start. If an unexpected invoice hits your desk, they can easily turn an otherwise cordial relationship into a bad one.  Sometimes people expect more than you’re actually suppose to be giving. If you are charging a client on an hourly rate, ensure that you provide transparency and “time sheets” to show the number of hours they have worked for your agency. If you allocated 20 hours per month, how you splitting the time with your designers and developers? And more importantly, show your clients that you are actually working 20 hours on your business.
  • Don’t overpromise: The worst thing we’ve seen outsourced agencies do is OVERPROMISE! Don’t do that, later on it will haunt you if you can’t deliver, and your client will wonder where all of these promises went? It’s not worth overpromising to get that lead into a sale.
  • Play nice. Quality support is important. Don’t get a bad rep or put on a negative image that a client can hurt you for the long run. Be specific, and friendly. You want to build a sound relationship from the beginning. Avoid sounding intimidating. 

How do you keep your own outsourced agency look respectable to clients? How do you avoid the haunting stigma it can bring (especially if offshore)?

I’d love to hear from you!

Want more articles like this? Subscribe below for weekly updates on agency advice?

Author: @keswanberg