One of the main challenges in offshore outsourcing is finding the perfect culture fit. Language barrier and culture gap can lead to misunderstanding. Here are five key principles that can help businesses avoid a culture clash with their service provider.

Lay the groundwork.
Businesses have to understand the background of the service provider, where they are located, and how they communicate. This will help identify cultural and language differences, and address issues before they cause any problems.

Find the perfect mix.
Businesses should find a compatible service provider. Personality clashes may occur if both parties are at opposite ends of the spectrum. A young, laid back start-up may not get along well with a traditional service provider. On the other hand, aggressive stakeholders can be challenging to deal with.

They should find a compatible offshore outsourcing location. Well-known locations such as the Philippines have an English-proficient workforce with a neutral accent, and strong affinity with Western culture. There’s little difference in time zone for Australian clients.

Open communication.
The outsourcing client and service provider must be on the same page on every detail regarding the engagement – from service delivery to governance. Both parties should be realistic, specific, and concise on what they need and expect from each other. Regular meetings should be held. When the service provider is offshore, misinterpretation can lead to a breakdown in communication.

Anticipate customer feedback.
Culture gaps extend to customers. Businesses should include customer experience management (CEM) during the knowledge transfer process of the transition period. They should educate offshore employees about their target audience. This is crucial when outsourcing services that deal with customers.

When outsourcing contact centre functions, customer service representatives often find that they are at a loss when trying to establish rapport through small talk. They are not knowledgeable enough about their customer’s culture to come up with a subject to talk about. Gaining real-life knowledge about their target market enables them to engage better with customers. More importantly, they can provide solutions that fit their customer’s needs.

Strong governance.
Governance is the key to sustaining an outsourcing engagement. Even if the business is outsourcing a well-defined service such as bookkeeping, they still need to ensure that service requirements are being met. At the end of the day, even if a third party has taken over a task, the outsourcing client is still responsible for ensuring that they get the value they need.

Outsourcing clients and service providers can overcome language and cultural barriers. Establishing a partnership, instead of just making a transaction, is the key to offshore outsourcing success.