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How to improve CX when your fulfilment services are outsourced

Article by Gill Lambert

10th July 2018

Customer experience, Subscription management, Voice of the Customer

How to improve CX when your fulfilment services are outsourced

If you outsource fulfilment and support services to a bureau then implementing an effective Customer Experience strategy can be a challenge.

There are obvious issues that go with the territory of outsourcing which include the degree of flexibility around customer journeys and the ease of integrating bureau data with other data sources across the organization, however CX can be greatly improved by placing meaningful, actionable customer feedback at the heart of your commercial relationship with your bureau.

This means that bureau KPI’s need to focus on service quality and efficiency and need to be built into the fabric of any service agreement.

The curse of the SLA

SLAs have their place in any supplier contract but if the metrics that are being reported are not meaningful, then they will have limited value, and may even drive behaviour that has a negative impact on the customer experience.

Here are just a few examples of common subscription bureau SLAs that seem logical at first glance, but don’t always stand up to scrutiny…

  • 95% uptime per month for web services – this means that an e-commerce site can be down for 36 hours per month and still be within SLA.
  • 95% of calls answered within 5 seconds – to understand what this metric looks like you’ll need to first clarify the universe of data being reported (all calls or just yours?), and then overlay your call stats onto real performance data. More importantly, if this metric is used in isolation and not contextualized with satisfaction data then call answer rates will get prioritised over call quality.
  • 95% of emails answered within 48-hours – another flat, volume-based measure with no concept of quality. Plus, if your bureau does not operate 24/7 then you’ll need to understand how the 48 hour period is reported (from when the message was sent by the customer or received by an agent?).

More importantly, these stats are attempting to measure the performance of the service provider yet make no reference to outcomes, i.e. the events that create a positive (or negative) customer experience.

Metrics that are measurable, meaningful and focus on outcomes include:

  • % of contacts resolved on first contact
  • Net Promotor Score
  • Customer feedback survey analysis
  • On-line self-serve analytics
  • Knowledgebase usage and effectiveness
  • Data quality (e.g. successful collection of supplementary demographic data, data preference opt-ins)


As well as SLAs, the commercials that relate to your service contract can affect the long-term strategy of your service provider as well as short-term service outcomes.

Bureau charges typically have a base management fee per subscription contract, plus a series of transaction charges. If you can convert the transaction charges to outcome achievements then business objectives will be aligned and your bureau will invest in technologies and skills that can deliver the CX that you strive for.

With an effective reporting and feedback system in place, you can effectively outsource the process of service delivery without losing control over the service experience.