Don’t Outsource Your Relationships
Outsourcing the tasks in your business to free up your time to generate more business, makes good sense.
However there is one type of task to be very careful of outsourcing to either staff or contractors and that is the tasks involving relationships.
How you manage these types of tasks will impact on your business reputation and the loyalty of your clients, so before you hand this area over to someone else consider some of the following situations:
Your client relationships
- if you employ or contract people who will be in contact with your clients (even if there is only a remote chance they will speak to them) then you need to introduce them to your clients and advise how they fit into your business. Otherwise in addition to confusing clients who suddenly get a call from someone they don’t know, it makes it difficult for the new person to start these relationships in a positive way. And with so many spam emails these days, any email they may send to your clients could end up in the junk email folder (if they don’t know who it is).
- if the name of the person who sends out the email communications changes, then similar to the above there should be a transition to accompany this change. The email advising this should ideally come from the person who previously sent these communications (or the business owner) and include a timeframe for the transition, as well as reassurance that it’s “business as usual”. This will avoid any confusion and again any emails ending up in the junk email folder.
- sometimes you will need to ask your clients to support a project or provide material such as testimonials. In these instances it’s important (for the success of this request) that it comes from the person with whom they have the greatest relationship – which is likely to be you the business owner. With the ease of bulk emailing today there’s no excuse for not doing this (even if someone assists you to put the content together).
- some staff are very diligent and take care of clients in the same way we would ourselves, however, this is not always the case. Whilst you shouldn’t need to micromanage your staff (and if you do it should be addressed in other ways) it is still good risk management to periodically monitor their interactions. You can do this by listening into how they talk to clients on the phone as well as reading client feedback and social media comments, so that you can address anything you notice.
- if a client contacts you about an issue then resist the urge to pass it quickly to the relevant staff member or contractor. It’s important that you personally acknowledge their email, thanking them for bringing it to your attention and then highlighting what’s going to be done about it (and of course who will be handling it so they know who the contact point is). As this is something that can damage your brand (if not handled properly) it’s also good policy to stay informed as the situation progresses so that you can step in as needed.
Your business relationships
- if you are seeking to set up mutually beneficial business relationships (that can help you grow your business) then it should always be you who makes the first contact to arrange the meeting and any followup meetings. Having staff contact them on your behalf to book a meeting sets up the wrong type of relationship (it may seem a simple thing but it has a large impact on their impression of you). Make the call yourself to show how important they are to you and they will reward you for it by supporting your business.
- any issue raised by a business contact should be handled promptly and managed in the same way as mentioned previously with clients. This will protect your business reputation and the ongoing relationship.
Your online relationships
- if you have outsourced this area to a third party then you need to be sure this person understands your business thoroughly and will not put your business at risk. Sometimes business owners outsource this area because they are uncomfortable or unfamiliar using social media or believe it’s going to take a lot of time – which is completely understandable. However, if you have decided to utilise social media (even if you don’t manage it yourself) you do need to invest the time to periodically monitor it and make sure it reflects your business in the right way.
Whilst the above might seem obvious, when you do start engaging staff or contractors it can be very easy not to think strategically about the tasks you give them and risk damaging your business relationships as a result.
Be very careful of outsourcing tasks which involve relationships and if you do decide to outsource them, ensure there is a strategy for the transition and they are monitored periodically. Treat your business relationships the same way that you would treat any relationship that is important to you and your business will continue to grow.