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Young America and DATAMARK: Forging a Strategic Partnership

This case study illustrates the new age of business process outsourcing relationships, where providers act as strategic partners, helping clients excel in performance and efficiency as their business grows.

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Young America and DATAMARK: Forging a Strategic Partnership

  1. 1. Young America and DATAMARK: Forging a Strategic Partnership Mail Center Management Data Entry Multichannel Customer Contact Customer Name: Young America, LLC Industry:Promotional Marketing Services Executive Summary: Business process outsourcing (BPO) has changed since the early days of the industry, when providers delivered transaction-based commodity services at the lowest possible cost. Today, BPO providers serve as strategic partners for clients, delivering process-improvement knowledge, technology and high-skill services in a pursuit of a long- term goal of mutual success. This paper highlights the new wave of BPO, focusing on the collaborative partnership between Young America, LLC, one of the largest engagement and promotional marketing companies in the United States, and DATAMARK, Inc., a leading BPO company based in El Paso, Texas. The collaboration between Young America and DATAMARK began with a 90-day pilot program for rebate processing. The partnership is now in its eighth year, and has grown to include multi-shore mailroom and data entry operations, and, most recently, bilingual customer contact services. ©2014 DATAMARK, Inc. www.datamark.net Customer Relationship Case Study November 2014
  2. 2. Introduction: In Search of a Business Process Transformation Young America, LLC, one of largest engagement and promotional marketing companies in the United States, found itself at a crossroads in the mid-2000s. For many years, the company had relied on hundreds of home-based data entry contractors to process its clients’ mail-in paper forms for rebates, sweepstakes and other engagement marketing programs. The system was cumbersome and required a large team of Young America staff to oversee the process and ensure the quality of the contractors’ work. Young America knew that it needed to improve its efficiency and reduce operating costs if it wanted to remain competitive in the engagement marketing industry. The company began to explore ways to accomplish a complete business process transformation. A Serendipitous Visit While visiting El Paso, Texas to investigate options for onshore and nearshore processing of mail-in paper rebates, Young America executives learned about DATAMARK, a business process outsourcing (BPO) company with experience in document processing, data entry and mailroom management going back to 1989. After introductory conversations, a team of DATAMARK executives traveled to Young America’s headquarters in Minnesota to learn more about the company’s rebate workflows and other marketing fulfillment processes. “They were looking for someone they could partner with to help improve the efficiency of the handling and distribution of inbound mail, the capturing of data from rebate forms, and other business processes,” recalled DATAMARK President Bill Randag. “Young America was looking to change its processes and create efficiencies. Having an outside perspective and partner enabled the redesign that changing times required.” Thus began the beginning of a strategic partnership between Young America and DATAMARK, a relationship now entering its eighth year. The Young America-DATAMARK collaboration got its start in 2006 with a pilot program for rebate processing. It has since grown to include an onshore-nearshore- offshore mailroom and data entry operations, and most recently, the launch of a bilingual, English-Spanish customer contact center in Mexico. A Seismic Shift in the BPO Industry In the mid-2000s, industry analysts were recognizing a major change in the outsourcing business. The standard outsourcing engagement—single- sourced, transaction-based, commoditized—was evolving, and becoming more intricate and multifaceted. “It helps to have an outside perspective to rethink and redesign the way things are done.” Bill Randag, President, DATAMARK ©2014 DATAMARK, Inc. www.datamark.net
  3. 3. Customers and providers both recognized the benefits of outsourcing further along the value chain, leading to more complex engagements involving greater amounts of collaboration between client and provider. A 2008 PricewaterhouseCoopers report, “Outsourcing Comes of age: The Rise of Collaborative Partnering,” gathered input from outsourcing customers and service providers worldwide to shed new light on the trend. “(Outsourcing) customers need to rely increasingly on multisourcing, joint ventures and open business models. Unlike traditional single-source transactional outsourcing, these approaches—and the complexities they entail—intrinsically require collaboration,” PwC researchers wrote. Taking the First Steps Successful collaborative outsourcing relationships are like any other healthy relationship—they are built step-by-step over time, and established on a foundation of trust. Young America and DATAMARK took their first steps together with a 90-day pilot program for processing paper rebates. The success of the pilot proved the potential for Young America to work with DATAMARK. The company recognized that their workflow could be improved by an outside organization using Lean and Six Sigma methodologies. In the case of mail management and data capture from rebate and other forms, Young America recognized that outsourcing to onshore, nearshore or farshore locations could lead to cost savings of 20 to 40 percent cost compared to keeping the process in-house. With the pilot program completed, DATAMARK and Young America took the next step in their outsourcing journey by establishing an offshore-nearshore mail processing center, now in its eighth year of operation. Mail is received in El Paso, Texas and trucked across the border to DATAMARK’s facility in Mexico, just a few miles from El Paso. The mail is opened, and rebate and other forms are sorted and prepped. Staff using high volume scanners digitize the forms, and the images are made available to data entry teams in Mexico and India for processing. Data-entry operators key from image, and the information is uploaded to Young America servers for further processing. “Our relationship with DATAMARK has proven to be a true partnership between our companies, “ said Young America President and CEO Chris Behrens. “They truly deliver on the needs of our clients’ programs and have helped support our goal to provide superior brand experiences via submission processing and contact center support.” Benefits of an Onshore-Nearshore Location Leone Hunter, SVP, Operations, at Young America, said their outsourcing model has helped Young America stay competitive and agile in the engagement marketing space. Young America can offer its clients a choice in processing locations and ramp up quickly when business volume increases— during the holiday season, for example. “Our relationship with DATAMARK has proven to be a true partnership between our companies. They truly deliver on the needs of our clients’ programs and have helped support our goal to provide superior brand experiences via submission processing and contact center support.” Chris Behrens, President and CEO, Young America ©2014 DATAMARK, Inc. www.datamark.net
  4. 4. DATAMARK handles the staffing requirements, so Young America doesn’t have to deal with the time-consuming effort of hiring or downsizing. It stays focused on its core business instead. “A major benefit is the onshore-nearshore arrangement,” Hunter said. “We have the capability to meet our clients’ requirements for location and cost, and we can be fast and flexible based on volume—it’s an advantage.” Moving Along the Value Chain to Multichannel Customer Contact DATAMARK’s location on the U.S.-Mexico border also proved an advantage when Young America began exploring options for establishing a multichannel call/contact center to serve English and Spanish-speaking customers. During this time—around 2009-2010—DATAMARK also was seeking opportunities to expand its existing customer contact services. The El Paso- Juárez metroplex is home to a large, educated bilingual workforce. There is little difficulty recruiting and training tech-savvy contact center agents who speak fluent English and Spanish with neutral accents, which are easily understood by U.S. customers. The workforce also is proficient in writing in English and Spanish, which is necessary for communicating with customers through web chat, email and social media. Also around this time, the U.S. was beginning a slow and painful recovery from the late-2000s global recession that had shattered consumer confidence. Many companies, including Young America, which were seeking to control costs and stay competitive in this tough economy, turned to outsourcing providers as part of their cost-management strategies. Randag recognized an opportunity for DATAMARK to assist its strategic partner. “We were looking to expand DATAMARK’s call center presence, so we pitched the idea to Young America—they could save money with a nearshore Mexico location, while at the same time improving their bilingual customer service capabilities. We were looking at a ‘win-win’ situation for both companies,” Randag said. Young America also recognized the win-win potential of the deal. In November 2013, the companies officially celebrated the opening of the new Young America bilingual customer contact center at DATAMARK’s facility in Mexico. With all business processes that it manages, DATAMARK continually looks for ways to identify improvements and add value beyond lower costs for its customers. Lizbeth “Liz” Torres, DATAMARK’s senior business unit manager for the Young America Contact Center, said that soon after the center’s launch, she and her management team developed a program to cross-train agents in the handling of customer service calls for multiple Young America clients. “We have the capability to meet our clients’ requirements for location and cost, and we can be fast and flexible based on volume—it’s an advantage.” Leone Hunter, SVP, Operations, Young America ©2014 DATAMARK, Inc. www.datamark.net
  5. 5. “Every rebate or fulfillment program has different rules or procedures, depending on the company that is making the offer,” Torres said. “With the cross-training program, our agents have the knowledge and information at hand to respond to customers’ questions about a wide variety of rebate programs offered by Young America’s clients. This improves our agent productivity, and of course, customer satisfaction.” Tina Baeyens, Young America’s director of Contact Center operations, said she appreciates the efforts of Torres’ team and other benefits the nearshore center offers. “The nearshore location makes it easy for us to come down and support training of new staff,” Baeyens said. “With Liz and her team, it is a true genuine partnership—we share with them the tools they need to be successful, and whenever we are faced with a challenge, we sit down and determine how to make it work.” Mutual Success in the “Outsourcing Revolution” The relationship serves as a clear example of the rise of collaborative partnering between organizations and their outsourcing providers. It’s the “outsourcing revolution” predicted by analyst Michael F. Corbett, who wrote: “Once focused just on reducing expenses, today’s outsourcing initiatives are likely to help companies do things they previously could not do.” More possibilities are on the horizon as the Young America-DATAMARK partnership continues to grow across the chain of business processes, from mail processing and data entry, to higher-complexity services such as bilingual customer contact. “We are constantly looking at opportunities to add value to their activities in the engagement marketing and fulfillment industry in a way that’s mutually beneficial,” said DATAMARK President Bill Randag. “We want to be their partner for long-term success.” About DATAMARK For more than 20 years, DATAMARK has provided mailroom management, data entry, document processing, bilingual contact center services and other business process solutions for Fortune 500 companies across all industry sectors. To learn more about our services and solutions, visit: www.datamark.net “We are constantly looking at opportunities to add value to their activities in the engagement marketing and fulfillment industry in a way that’s mutually beneficial.” Bill Randag, President, DATAMARK ©2014 DATAMARK, Inc. www.datamark.net

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This case study illustrates the new age of business process outsourcing relationships, where providers act as strategic partners, helping clients excel in performance and efficiency as their business grows.

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