In 2023, more than ever before, our people will be the most valuable commodity!

Gary Howard

The world is ever evolving, and people are harder to recruit, desire more flexibility and are more valuable than ever.

by Gary Howard

How challenging has it been to recruit the right people for your business in 2022, and how will things change in 2023?

As a nation, we are not alone in finding recruitment an ever-increasing challenge. It is an issue that affects the world over, and a problem that will not be resolved quickly. Quite rightly, after the shock of the pandemic, our society wants a greater balance between work and life – they want to spend less time commuting and have greater choice about where they live. The switch from “live to work” from “work to live” is evident, and we must adjust to a different mindset. No longer is career and ambition a common goal. The importance of a blended lifestyle surpasses that of money and career development. Costs are increasing rapidly, and with that, so does the cost of employment at every level. Your current team have demonstrated their value, and you want to retain them and keep them enthused, engaged and invested in the company’s goals – you do not want to lose them!

When did the penny drop?

For me, it was on a recent business trip to Australia (it really wasn’t as grand as it sounds). I thought my purpose was to discover if a clever piece of technology that our programme team had developed could work for a retail energy provider over there. It can and will, but I missed understanding the real objective. The real objective was to lessen the process management workload on their team so that they could be better utilised elsewhere, focussing on what they enjoy and benefiting the company more! They (their staff) had become far too valuable a resource to manage the mundane, irrespective of how business-critical that work is. They came to the realisation that if they are driving the business forward, their employees work best, are more rewarded and offer greater value. Ask yourself this question: Are there processes within your business that could be better supported outside of your business; freeing up time for the people that make a real difference to your bottom line?  

Business Process Outsourcing in 2023.

Not so long ago, we started working with a small team that was on a mission to disrupt the retail energy sector using super-smart technology and outstanding customer service, putting an emphasis on added personality. They were, at the time, a small team, but had grown to the point where they needed some additional help with business processes. Their talented but stretched team were taking too much time on paper-based communication, Invoices, Statements, Reminders etc. They were increasing the number of customers switching to their fresh new approach and the specialist ERP platform they had based their proposition on, was focused much on digital comms, not paper comms. However, they found that many customers still wanted to receive additional communication in the post as they trusted it more. Soon, their tens of thousands of customers became hundreds of thousands, to millions, and we needed to apply technology to meet demand and deliver:
  • A secure and protected environment.
  • Scale quickly and accurately.
  • Switch the burden of customer communication from the client to Precision.
  • Enable the client to continue to focus on their core activity.
  • Reduce costs through automation and postal discounts.
  • Improve speed to market of their essential mail.
  • To deliver a sustainable product.
  • A flexible and nimble partnership.
This development took processing time from days to minutes, reduced production costs and put a severe dent in the cost of postage by applying the most efficient postal processes. The client team that managed tens of thousands of customers could offer the same service to millions without impacting on their commitment to outstanding customer service. Their people focus on the business, we focus on communication, and they save money and maintain their exceptional standard of service. The highly disruptive ERP solution is now used under licence by other retail energy companies around the world. The technology developed by Precision to act as Middleware between the ERP and the supply chain has evolved into a commercially robust solution that acts as the conduit between the utility and their local supply network. Our plugin is highly adaptable and can be used to complement any CRM or ERP platform, delivering the same results. Customer communication goes beyond outsourcing essential mail. The client had a programme of customer acquisition, outstanding customer service and retention designed to develop brand advocacy unique to the utility sector. Retaining customers had as much importance as winning new ones, and this included a comms programme that ranged from building brand loyalty to supporting customers through the energy crisis with life-saving products to ensure the vulnerable stayed warm during times of energy poverty. For this start-up, we evolved their solution as quickly as they grew, and to this day continue to deliver all physical communication to customers operating as extended members of their team. The only difference is that now, they are a $4 billion company. Precision is a distribution company, with a large carbon-neutral, solar-powered hub headquartered in Bury St Edmunds. We hold 400 pallets of product at any one time and manage the pick, pack and distribution of hundreds of thousands of products to households around the UK.  

Consumer trust in physical communication.

Along with the development of highly sophisticated digital advertising scams comes the resurgence of printed mail as means of trusted customer communication. On that trip to Australia, the client reported an increase in the share of mailed communication from 30% to 40% and that trend for switching to business mail from digital was supported by Royal Mail in November 2022 when they reported an increase of 18% in year-on-year numbers of business mail sent. So, the reported demise of printed mail has been greatly exaggerated as it remains the most likely to trigger a response and remains the most trusted media. Costs have increased and that is why looking for an outsourced partner for business mail is such a cost-effective solution. Postage remains the highest cost so it makes sense to work with a postage aggregator that will help you deliver efficiencies while employing fewer people to manage the process.   “In the fourth quarter of 2021, 17.8 percent of ad impressions from the United Kingdom were fraudulent. That was the highest value among the countries presented in the data set. The lowest value was detected in Japan, with 1.9 percent of ad impressions.” Published by Statista Research Department, Sep 13, 2022   “More than twice as many people feel that physical mail is private and secure. More people associate scams with digital channels than physical ones, by a 4-to-1 margin.” Marketreach  

Further changes to the marketing ecosphere are emerging

During the pandemic, we have experienced a massive shift in people’s lives, in the way we work, the way we live, the way we shop and our general everyday interactions. Throughout this period, companies have had to evolve and adapt to a new way of working and consumers have changed their purchasing behaviours, not just in the retail environment but across the whole spectrum, whether it be choosing to go on a staycation or identifying their next financial product. What has been critical for the success of businesses to survive is their ability to adapt and change with the ever-shifting environment. Beyond the impact of the pandemic, further changes to the marketing ecosphere are emerging with the death of third-party cookies and changes to apple’s iOS privacy requirements. This means that digital marketing will become more complicated in the short term, as companies figure out how to reach their ideal customers at scale. However, depending on the product or service being offered, the channel to market may differ, not all products are being marketed via digital channels, as more of us spend far more time at home, and not all consumers are digitally savvy. Therefore, there will always be a market for direct mail and other non-digital channels such as OOH or traditional print. Consumers do not come as “one-size-fits-all” and as such, products and services which companies offer via alternative channels such as Direct Mail or Partially Addressed Mail will always have their “more niche” audiences. Direct mail can work in conjunction with other channels to increase the effectiveness and reach of a brand’s targeted messages. During the pandemic, somewhat obviously, we witnessed an acceleration in the number of consumers that have switched from bricks and mortar retail to online. Within the healthcare sector, pharmaceutical products have seen a rapid move to online ordering through an online pharmacy. This, by its very nature, has complications from a compliance perspective. But, with 27 years of experience in marketing pharmaceutical products, an MHRA-accredited warehouse, a specialist e-commerce team and experience in business process outsourcing, it was a natural step for us to offer e-pharmacy solutions to brand owners. But with a key difference, they take all the glory and have a direct relationship with the consumer. Brand owners, whose traditional sales channel was through wholesalers, have always struggled by not having a direct relationship with the consumer. That didn’t change when pharmacy moved online as again, the direct relationship stayed between the pharmacy and the consumer. In addition, sales were dependent on the pharmacy, not the brand.  

Precision offers a white-labelled pharmacy on behalf of the brand.

We place a buy button on the brand site and from that point, the consumer online journey sits with Precision, including Pharmacy-only products (products that must be issued with a pharmacist’s approval) through to delivery. The relationship is direct between the brand and the consumer, including data privileges, and Precision is merely the facilitator. A facilitator that makes it possible for a brand to develop its direct-to-consumer channel, without huge capital investment, and in doing so, increasing sales while saving money.  

In Summary

A business is never too small or for that matter too big to consider outsourcing non-core activity. Sometimes, it is easier or for that matter, less politically sensitive to carry on doing what you have always done. When push comes to shove, you can always recruit more people. But in 2023, when you have recovered from too much of what you enjoy and must face up to an economy that is under extreme pressure and a workforce that has a different set of expectations – you may need to grab business process outsourcing with both your metaphorical hands and allow others to take away that burden from you. At that point, we would be delighted to help you in any way we can.