The Art of Outsourcing Customer Support: Lessons from Stitch Fix's BPO Partnership

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In this blog post, we delve into the world of outsourcing customer support and share valuable insights from industry leader Stitch Fix, an online personal style service with over 3.1 million active users. Our goal is to equip you with the best practices needed to effectively partner with an outsourcing company to scale your customer support. Additionally, we'll discuss the journey toward achieving optimal quality in customer service. Join us as we explore this crucial aspect of business growth.

Partnering With a BPO: Igniting a Pilot Program to Test Before Committing

When it comes to finding the right BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) partner for your call center or customer support, it's essential to understand what criteria (technical capabilities, cost, and company values, just to name a few) should be used to make the decision. Stitch Fix faced this challenge when looking for an outsourcing partner for their customer support team due to rapid growth. 

After evaluating a few potential partners, they initiated a pilot program with TaskUs (a leading BPO that provides “outsourced digital services and next-generation customer experience for the world’s most innovative companies”) that included an 8-week ramp-up period to assess the quality of their work and their ability to handle customer issues. 

During the pilot program, Stitch Fix conducted stress tests and early-on calibration sessions by selecting tickets that didn’t require an extensive amount of process knowledge; they were looking for the TaskUs team to exhibit a sense of curiosity, a willingness to learn, and an understanding of what it takes to provide a positive customer experience. Ultimately, they chose TaskUs due to their commitment to engagement and alignment with Stitch Fix's values. Going forward, Stitch Fix is committed to continuing to train and level up the TaskUs team and working with them to fully understand the Stitch Fix business.

Partnering with a BPO in a Remote Environment: Strategies for Successful Management

Two years into a successful BPO pilot with TaskUs, the challenge of remote onboarding and training due to the pandemic posed a unique set of issues. “To start,” explained Emily McKee, CX Quality Supervisor, Stitch Fix, “we couldn't have anyone from the internal team fly out and kickstart the training due to the pandemic. That made it extra challenging and caused a disconnect between our team and the BPO.” 

Stitch Fix faced a challenge with tribal knowledge since they didn't have subject matter experts on-site at TaskUs to assist. Initially, they approached the situation by attempting to replicate their internal program with TaskUS but soon realized that it was more about setting expectations and allowing TaskUS to bring their expertise to the table. One example of this was when TaskUS provided Stitch Fix with three graders. The Stitch Fix team tried to onboard them the same way as their internal graders but discovered that their internal graders had years of experience as agents, giving them a wealth of tribal knowledge that the BPO graders lacked. In summary, Stitch Fix learned that collaboration and setting clear guidelines while allowing for flexibility and adaptation were vital to success. 

“Communication was also a challenge; although we had a single point of contact, we needed to work as a team internally instead of silos to ensure we were all on the same page in supporting the BPO and treating them like a partner.” To ensure that they are always putting the customer first, the Stitch Fix team implemented a weekly business review that includes TaskUS, who acts as the voice of the customer. Additionally, Stitch Fix conducts monthly business reviews and calibrations using the MaestroQA platform. These sessions provide them with a platform to communicate and determine areas that require coaching, evaluate grading, and identify training needs for improvement.

Another challenge they confronted early on in the partnership was that their onboarding curriculum needed to be revised. As a result, Emily’s team developed an onboarding program, complete with training and resources, to empower agents to get up to speed quickly on Stitch Fix’s values, products, and processes. This personalized approach helped them promptly fill in any gaps, and the impacts were measurable! 

Takeaway: Using coaching and resources like the MaestroQA app is an excellent way to empower BPO agents.

Omni-Present Coaching With MaestroQA

In the end, Stitch Fix learned that they had to personalize their approach with the BPO and keep them top of mind when making business decisions to get the most out of the partnership.

Partnering for Improvement: The Successful Journey to Quality

During the initial launch with TaskUs, performance expectations simply included completing a certain amount of audits and participating in a calibration once a week. Stitch Fix saw that a more nuanced shift was needed to gain complete visibility into their BPO's performance and provide clear expectations around agent performance and quality. “When our contract was signed,” said McKee, “there was no quality target set for the TaskUs team, simply an expectation that they would perform well. We saw that we weren’t looking at their Grader efficiency, and we didn’t have goals in place, such as a 15-minute audit expectation.” To better manage Grader efficiency, Stitch Fix began to leverage more of MaestroQA’s key features. One is GraderQA, a workflow designed to provide qualitative feedback to individual graders on their grading performance while enhancing grader speed and efficiency.  

With GraderQA, a benchmark grader is selected; this is typically a member of the QA team that is the designated source of truth (an expert grader well-versed in your company's CX standards). The benchmark grader's key role is to grade the graders.

By utilizing MaestroQA, Stitch Fix not only has full visibility into the performance of their BPO through data-driven reporting, but they can establish efficiency goals for graders, alignment goals for team calibrations, and alignment goals for GraderQA. 

Speaking about data-driving reporting…

McKee shared that one of the key benefits of being able to dive deep into QA insights is that they can now look at quality and CSAT together with their BPO and go deep into their internal agent’s DSAT metrics vs. BPO DSAT metrics and make better-informed decisions on how to improve.

MaestroQA BPO Dashboard

“It’s great when you have a BPO that is willing to go on this journey with you,” stated McKee. “MaestroQA has helped us with this, and their tools have been instrumental in making our partnership a success.”

To learn more about what MaestroQA can do for your business, please request a demo today.

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