Outsourcing? Make Sure Customization Is a Priority
What’s the value of outsourcing as a small business owner? A large part is access to experts the owner doesn’t have in-house, and customization is a huge component of that. When small business owners consider partnering with third-party vendors in today’s fast-paced business world, those vendors must be masters of personalization.
And take it straight from the horse’s mouth: As a vendor, I know firsthand that we must allow customers to have the service how, when, and in whatever form they want. If your small business plans to partner with a third-party vendor, here’s what you need to know—especially when it comes to the importance of customization.
Customization Is Crucial
When it comes to service business models, customization dominates. Consider the chatbots popping up on websites: These bots are an example of agile technology designed to offer real-time information to consumers who demand rapid answers to their problems.
Customers now expect a certain level of service, and it’s up to small businesses (and their partnering vendors) to provide it. This requires listening, understanding, and providing exactly what the client wants.
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In a nutshell, it’s all about the supply chain and the end consumer. Successful small businesses today need to use systems that facilitate flexibility, personalization, and rapid response. Anything less can ruin a business.
Consider Netflix as an example. The streaming giant realized the potential of customization in online rental and streaming services, and its revamped supply chain model and customer service left Blockbuster in the dust.
At Transcription Outsourcing, our clients like our flexibility in accommodating their needs when it comes to law enforcement transcription, legal transcription, medical transcription, or business transcription services, and we have the people to help them.
We also accommodate the needs of our staff members with flexible work arrangements, which they can’t get from other employers. This business model can be a win-win for your business and your customers. Why? You’ve listened to the supply chain.
Traditional thinking suggests that customization is expensive for the service provider. There’s no leeway when each job needs a different approach. Why should customers receive a bespoke service how, when, and in whatever form they choose? This is a valid concern, and it illustrates why agile systems are so necessary.
For example, our company has law enforcement transcription clients who require six-hour turnaround times every day of the year, and we have legal transcription clients who ask for 10-day turnaround times. Our staff, however, is equipped and ready to meet both sets of needs. By providing personalization to clients, our general transcription services are worth the extra cost we may have to charge, and clients understand that a premium must sometimes be paid to get exactly they want.
Customization requires adapting to each client, not anticipating his or her needs. Business expert Adèle McLay says, “Ask your customers, and they will give you the answers. Respond to those answers by making changes within your business, and you’ll have happy customers who…may even refer you [to others]. Often, it’s the small, simple, and inexpensive changes that make the difference. Do 10 things 10 percent better rather than one thing 100 percent better.”
As a small business owner, put yourself in the client’s shoes to understand what’s important to him or her. In our case, schedules, typical file types, and turnaround time requirements are paramount when it comes to general transcription services.
Almost all of our clients require something different for their individual accounts, and we keep detailed notes to ensure we always do what they need. This approach helps us avoid mistakes and saves time setting up each client job.
As we get to know clients and their preferences, we create their very own “style guides”—our road maps for their accounts moving forward. We share their style guides with our transcriptionists and make sure everyone understands their needs and requirements.
We have a medical radiology transcription client who needs her files done the same day she dictates, and the day she dictates varies week to week. By making sure we have someone ready for when she does dictate, her needs are met.
Other areas of consideration are the greatest problems clients face or the ultimate goals they wish to achieve. Reading industry literature and the latest news can enlighten a service provider on the salient issues facing a client, and it might suggest ways you can optimize a service for that client.
Soft Solutions, Not Solicitation
The last thing a small business and partnering vendor should do is tell a client how to run his or her business; clients don’t want to hear that. Nevertheless, listening to a client does not mean agreeing to something that you know could create a problem down the road. Tough questions should be broached, particularly because a customer hates to find out he or she may have the wrong need or problem identified.
Is the customer using the words “helpful” or “useful”? Dig a little deeper with your questioning to home in on what the customer really wants from your service. Use “what” in follow-up questions—this forces the client to specifically pinpoint what he or she means. Using “why” can give the impression that you’re second-guessing the client’s rationale rather than clarifying his or her needs.
In the long run, personalization will save a small business owner (and his or her clients) resources and time, not to mention his or her reputation. Be thorough; a full solution is not based solely on a customer’s first impression of a need or want. That need or want may be part of a larger problem.
The reason for being so responsive comes down to differentiation. The advantage of small businesses is that they can be nimble, which separates them from the competition. It all goes back to customer service: If people want it at midnight, provide it at midnight.
By becoming a master of personalization, the vendor won’t add stress to a small business owner’s already stressful job. Quite the opposite: The third-party vendor will become a valuable resource and an indispensable partner.