BOP Full Form: BPO, the short form for Business Process Outsourcing, refers to a very important allied service sector globally. It is allied because it mainly deals in non-core skills related to an industry. However, it generally works as the interface between an industry and its customer base, and hence, is extremely sensitive as well as important for the overall business.
Why BPO firms are so important?
There are many BPO firms that cropped up with the new millennium. The growth was primarily pushed by the developments in the IT sector. The boom that happened in IT at the beginning of this century gave rise to the BPO firms, a very major pivot for the service industry.
Although the presence of BPO firms is global, they are most densely found in the developing countries with a large population of skilled manpower. When we say ‘skilled’, it is of course to clarify that the manpower required for BPO services does not need to be highly or specially skilled in any field. The skills required for BPO are basic and comes with any level of higher secondary education.
The BPO services generally deal with the allied services in an industry. If, for example, there is a fridge manufacturing company, then the BPO hired by that company has to mainly deal with customer calls, complaints received, forwarding them at the right time to the right experts, following up according to the timelines etc.
These are not core job, which is to manufacture the fridge and ensure its quality. But these are equally important jobs because customer satisfaction, feedback and online reviews depend a lot on them. Thus, BPO has to mainly deal with the customer interface.
Can a BPO firm have multiple clients?
A BPO is run by a shop floor supervisor who ensures that all the human resource is working at the highest efficiency without a waste of time. A BPO shop floor can have a large team of employees who are dealing with multiple clients.
One particular employee may attend to a customer call for one company, and once that call is over, may have to attend another for a different company. Thus, it is quite possible and natural for a BPO firm to cater to multiple clients, and in general, 24×7. The employees come in shifts and may have to cater to people from outside countries as well.
Are the employees trained enough?
For BPO, the USP is that the human resource does not need any expertise training. They don’t need to have high level of knowledge in English, the globally preferred language. They also do not need to have very deep knowledge about the product or service about which they are dealing. However, the basic and general information is required. So, the BPO employees are trained up newly every time a new client gets associated with a BPO firm.
The employees who will be dedicated for that client are trained, in brief, about the products, services FAQ and common points. It is much like a general knowledge build-up exercise that makes the employees able to understand the customer query and reply correctly. Many times the customer calls are about the general things, like by when can a product be received, how and by when can a technician visit be locked, and the likes.
The best part about these kinds of queries is that the answers to these are mostly available on the client websites. However, for a prompt reply, an employee needs to know where to click for an answer to a query. Thus, the basic training is required.
There can sometimes be specific queries that pertain to an expert solution. In such cases too, the employees have to know how to get in touch with an expert from the client’s side. The details of these experts are also informed to the employees, besides the chart of whom to contact for what sort of an issue. The basic training takes care of these things. It can be seen that in most cases, a person with common sense can become a successful BPO employee, after the requisite basic training.
In addition to this, an employee generally have to undertake many training from time to time since with growth of the BPO firm, its clientele and the variety of services and products catered to keeps on changing.
What are offshore and onshore BPO?
Offshore BPO refers to the hiring of a BPO company outside the country of the client. Onshore BPO refers to hiring of a BPO service from the same country. Near-shore BPO is also there, which refers to hiring from a neighboring country. The type of BPO matters in the selection of the employees in the BPO firm catering to the clients’ customers.
For onshore BPO, the work timings in a day for the client and the BPO employees are the same. But for offshore services, the employee team has to be selected in a way that the working hours of the team match with the working time of the other country. In case the client is from USA, a BPO firm in India has to keep its team ready at night hours.
Why India has an advantage in BPO services?
In India, a large chunk of students undergo learning in schools and colleges in English. Having a colonial past, many day to day things are referred to in English in the country. Thus, many people in India can understand and speak English. This availability of a large English speaking population has kept India ahead of many other countries, like China, in BPO sector.
The availability of manpower of required level of skill at low salary is also a great advantage for India. A larger population makes competition very tough in the service sector, and people become readily available to work at lower salaries. This is another very important reason why India is a bright spot in the global BPO map.
The developments in IT services, availability of cab apps at odd working hours, and the general aspirations of people to grow have all helped in this growth at the same time.