We've had a lot of dialog (read here) about why most clients aren't getting much more than they expected, when they signed an outsourcing contract. And when you have someone one on staff who's been dealing with the same issues for over three decades, you start to wonder what it's going to take to drive customers to become genuinely "delighted" with the service they're receiving.
My personal take, based on our extensive research, is that an increasing majority of clients truly want to see some innovation developing in their agreement, but aren't prepared to upset the applecart to make changes that could spoil their operational status quo.
Our veteran professor of outsourcing, Mike Atwood, has a simplistic view of what needs to transpire for customers to actually receive regular delights... over to you Mike:
Why aren’t I happy with my outsourcer?
How many times have you heard someone say that all our service metrics are green, but the relationship is red? This sort of non-specific concern about an outsourcer seems to be as old as outsourcing itself. It has certainly existed as long as I’ve been in the field. I recently attended an analyst conference for a major outsourcer andran into an old friend who I’d worked with at EDS andwe got around to discussing a mutual client. This client wasn’t to the point of saying the relationship was red, but he clearly didn’t believe he was getting the value he expected out of his outsourcing relationship.
In this case, the issue wasn’t that the wrong metrics had been chosen, or that some weasel words in the definitions had caused them to be upset. The problem was in the clients expectations. Those expectations are something that I think fits well into the frame work of the KANO model. (If you aren’t familiar Google it and you will be) . The model says that expectations come in 3 types;
- The first are “basic” elements, which are things that you just assume everyone knows and you don’t write down.
- The second requirements are the “metrics” that outsourcers, consultants, lawyers, andproject teams spend forever trying to nail down.
- Lastly, “delights” are those things that you can imagine, but when they happen you are actually excited.
I believe all outsourcers spend most of their time andenergy working on making the commitments around requirements (2ndtype) that they signed up to in the contract. The smart outsourcers have figured out that the basics are real requirements, and long ago stopped asking “Where does it say that in the contract?” But I know of no firm that takes an organized, deliberate approach to developing delights. There are some individual relationship managers who do, but that’s about it.
This seems to me to get to the heart of the issue about “why aren’t outsourcers proactive?” There are also issues of sunk costs and unrealized depreciation, as well as operational risk, but beyond them all is this desire to have some creative thinking and changes beyond what I’m getting today. By the way, the deeper you get into an outsourcing contract the better the good old days will be remembered!
So what is an outsourcer to do? I’d suggest that every account team needs to set itself a goal of at least proposing, but better yet, implementing one delight on some periodic basis. The team out to have regular brainstorming meetings and the implementation of delights ought to be managed. To many of us this seems let basic account management, client partnering, but somewhere it has gotten lost andcustomers are sitting around wondering why they hired their outsourcer, even if things are all green!