Humanizing the Brand Engagement
Although communications in the outsourcing industry do not differ drastically from communications in any other business sector, we must consider some specific features of ITO and BPO that influence the relationships of the brand with its key stakeholders and target audiences.
Specific Features of Communication in Outsourcing
First, no doubt, is the much greater dependence on the quality of the team compared to companies active in production or retail. The creation process in outsourcing involves the customer directly. This is very important since a basic advantage for companies to outsource is the expectation of higher quality service compared to in-house as per unit cost.
Another key component is multi-culturalism because, very often, geographic re-location also involves cultural differences.
There are also enormous variations in terms of generations and habits. Most staff members fall under the definition of Generation Y and, soon, even Generation Z. This means we must face significant value changes such as the highly different priority set regarding “personal life and needs” (an extension of the so-called work-life balance tendencies). But it also means motivation through entertainment and involvement.
Online-based handling currently influences both personal lives and business. And it is even more important for the outsourcing industry covering the wide spectrum from information sources and customer communication through to virtual teams that sometimes never meet live. But, besides sparing time and resources, this virtual work strengthens the explicit need to “humanize” the work environment to keep a balance and retain a healthy atmosphere.
And, last but not least, outsourcing is founded on trust – based on having confidence in the best solution provider and being recognized as a trustworthy and competent partner. And the most important strategy to secure this trust is reputation and delivery management.
These features pinpoint two of the key stakeholder groups as crucial for the communication of every outsourcing company: employees and customers. And when defining the employees’ target group we should bear in mind that this group includes also future and former employees, partnering universities or training centers, and online communities. As for the customers that are basically also business organizations, they always come together with the whole business community, different trade organizations, financial institutions, researchers, and consulting firms.
Key target groups
Key target groups of communication also include media (traditional, online incl. bloggers and influencers), partners and suppliers, shareholders, public administration, NGOs and local communities. And one must not overlook the competitors, especially in market monitoring and social listening.
There are many ways to reach out to these groups and build a dialogue with them. Events rank as one of the most influential communication activities. They attract interest, position the company, increase brand relevance and gain employees and customers, sometimes all-in-one. The scope of an event depends upon its purpose, the extent of participation, the facilities and equipment, geographic coverage, and its importance in terms of public interest. In the table you can find a classification of typical marketing and communication events based on their main objective and main (primary) target groups.
Define your goals
For every event you must define your goals very carefully from the outset. For example, a trade fair participation can aim at improving a company’s portfolio recognition among prospects. It also aims at enhancing CRM database, strengthening customer loyalty/engagement, improving brand recognition or re-activating brand perception and positioning specific services in a particular branch of industry. It is also designed to attract young prodigies who are interested in the industry to join the team. A fair inevitably educates the business community about the advantages of outsourced services and provides insights into competitors’ research.
Evaluation of success
After the goals are clearly defined and set, the next step is to create a system to evaluate if targets have been met suc cessfully. It is even better if priorities are set in this system. If we stay by the fair participation example, the improvement of a company’s portfolio recognition among prospects will be evaluated by the number of prospects at the presentation event: the total number of shows, percentage shows compared to invited guests, invitation feedback percentage rate, event feedback response percentage rate, the number of call-to-action responses (e.g. signed for a newsletter) and prospects of receiving an offer in the subsequent three-month period. For each of the criteria an evaluation scale is to be defined separately (for example, the total number of shows at the event can be evaluated like this: under 15 unacceptable, 16-35 satisfactory, 36-50 good, above 51 excellent).
The measurement of success in CRM database enhancement is the number of new contacts from the fair (!do not forget to define criteria for the contacts in order to assure potential and not only let your sales staff “play the statistics”) and the number of contacts you were able to add some information about (can also be a percentage of the whole database). Strengthening customer loyalty can be evaluated by the number of customer visits, the increase in the rate of customers’ visits YoY (if the fair is conducted annually and your company has documented historic participation data), the percentage of the customers that have visited the stand (from all invited or targeted customers) and the increased rate of percentage visits YoY. The percentage of customer visits that last more than 30 minutes (as an indicator of their experience) is another barometer of success; this can include feedback evaluation of the invitation and/or the visits.
In terms of improving brand recognition, market research before and after the fair can best show if, and how well, this has been achieved. This depends on the target groups for which you most want to increase brand recognition. For example, if you want all students at the technical university in X town at the fair site to know that you exist, you can make a short questionnaire before and after the fair in the university concerned. But, if you target all business owners in the region, then a larger field marketing research must be conducted.
Depending on the importance of brand recognition as a business goal, you can decide to relocate resources to a subject of greater importance (either to work harder on your employer branding strategy and focus on the top talents or to conduct a wide research on the industry branch’s needs to be faced in the next 5 years, or even to explore in detail the strategy of your new competitor). In this case you can make your own research about brand recognition by asking fair visitors two simple questions (first at the entrance and then when they leave – for example – two hours later) – What did you know about the company beforehand? and What do you think about the services we offer?
Develop your key indicators
After defining the evaluation criteria and deciding on the scaling, priorities must be set. The easiest way to face this challenge is to develop a points system whereby the most important goal, for example brand recognition, gets x6 of the results and the least important gets, for example, x2 of the results. So your calculation would look like this:
3+2+2 (where 4 is best and 1 is worst) = 7 points x 6 = 42 adjusted points
1+2+1 = 4 points x 2 = 8 adjusted points
TOTAL: 453 adjusted points for all fair goals or 64% (of all possible points) success
The evaluation criteria differ from event to event depending on the goals set. But, essentially, what has to be measured remains time invested and involvement.
As a final result, of course, the volume of business generated (number of contracts, turnover etc.) and the talents attracted and retained (through unwished fluctuation rate or top university performers hired) remain pivotal. But on this long and ever-continuing journey you can definitely measure the success of your separate tasks in building business development.
Events are important part of your marketing & communication
As a part of corporate communication, marketing measures, HR efforts and reputation management, these events have managed to stay, or even grow, in importance. In an era where the human touch becomes more important, face-to-face (or even virtual) communication can make or break a project.
And entertainment seems to motivate both employees and customers to stay with your brand.
So outsourcing can benefit strongly from this. But, if you’re still hesitating whether to organize an event, here is a short questionnaire to help you decide:
- Can I reach the audience in any other way?
- Will this other option be more effective (in terms of goal achievement)?
- Will the alternative involve the audience more?
- Can I generate better ROI with a different measure?
Once an event has been confirmed, the only question left is: Who should organize it: internally or should it be outsourced? PR, Marketing, HR or the executive assistant? A big advertising agency, niche communication team or consultant to coordinate all the parties involved? The answer here varies for every company.
Key questions to be considered
1) Who will organize it better? (usually someone with experience in events)
2) What scenario will end up with the best cost-effectiveness ratio? (usually project teams that involve corporate communications members because of the key messages directed to stakeholders and because of reputation responsibility).
3) Who can manage the project without constant control? (usually an expert in project management with above-average negotiation skills who can use marketing tools to ensure that business goals are achieved).
And – do not forget to measure success by re-briefing after the event. Good luck and enjoy eventing!