In this episode, Derek is joined by Sharon Melamed, an outsourcing expert who has worked in the outsourcing industry for more than 20 years. She runs a company called Matchboard which is effectively a matchmaking service of outsourcing.
- Sharon has been in the outsourcing industry for more than 20 years and has lived and worked in Australia, US, Japan, Europe, and Israel.
- She graduated from University with a degree in Foreign Languages.
- She started her career as a Japanese speaking call center agent.
- Sharon shared her early days in managing sales processes such as telesales and telesupport.
- The major hurdle for small businesses is the fear of the unknown according to Sharon.
- Sharon also shares some advice for SME on considering outsourcing.
- Matchboard is a matching platform where a company can tell it needs for outsourcing, and a matching algorithm will find a short list of perfect match outsources to help with that particular business need.
- The entity created by the Philippines has been great at evolving the concept of outsourcing.
- Growth is an opportunity.
Derek: Hi and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator podcast. This is episode number 113, and today I am joined by Sharon Melamed. She is an outsourcing expert, she has worked in the outsourcing industry and various vices for about the last 25 years I’ve been informed. She now runs a company called Matchboard which is effectively a matchmaking service for outsourcing. So, super interesting conversation I have with Sharon today. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. I give a bit of an intro in the podcast so we would just jump straight into it. If you want any more information about Sharon, then go to our show notes, you can find those at outsourceaccelerator.com/113. Enjoy.
Derek: Hi everybody and welcome back and today I’m with Sharon Melamed. Hi, Sharon, how are you?
Sharon: Hi, very well. Thanks for having me on your show.
Derek: My pleasure. And today, Sharon, you have a huge amount of experience in outsourcing not only in outsourcing but business as well across a vast number of countries so it’s great to have you onboard and you join us discussing your company which is matchboard.com.au which of course will learn what that is but thank you for joining us, Sharon and welcome to the show, and first of all, do you want to give yourself a quick introduction to yourself and Matchboard.
Sharon: Certainly. I’ve been in the outsourcing industry for more than 20 years. I have lived and worked in Australia, the US, Japan, Europe and Israel so, I have a quite broad effective in the industry globally. I speak five languages so that’s been a great approach to different coaches which gives patent passes in the outsourcing world. I have comprised a team on the entrepreneurial trail running Matchboard.
Should I just give you a quick info about Matchboard?
Sharon: Yes, well Matchboard is a matching platform where a company can tell it needs for outsourcing, and a matching algorithm will find a short list of perfect match outsources to help with that particular business need. So a company can specify the budget, what they want to outsource, the timeline, location, what experience they need etc. This saves a business huge amount of time working out who’s who in the market. And it also de-risks the process because we screen manually, every outsourcer in our database is only the highly rated once make it in.
Derek: Right. Fantastic. So effectually we won’t go to a too much this, we ask you going to be back into a second episode with us so we can really deep dive into Matchboard but it is effectively kind of a digital advisory and brokerage services, is that right?
Sharon: Yes, I guess it’s taken the concept of matchmaking so even online dating intrudes the world of outsourcing and business processes. It is a combination of that high tech matching platform overlaid with the high touch experience out thing brings the table.
Derek: Fantastic. Just a rewind so you find yourself in this kind of the tech application of outsourcing. You’ve got 25 years business experience, you worked in 4 or 5 regions, isn’t it? That’s huge. Rewinding a little bit, what is your corporate mix in terms of experiences brought you to this position?
Sharon: Yes of course. I graduated from Uni with a degree in Foreign Languages. Actually, I started my career as a Japanese speaking call center agent. Back in the days where there was no ACD so you would run around from one physical phone to another answering call for different companies. So they’re invading myself but I spent more than 20 years in that contact center customer service and I progress from being a call center agent quite quickly into business development, running sales and marketing team in different countries to help companies expand overseas with call centers and back office facilities and so I would watch with literally hundreds organization to help them get set up internationally.
Derek: So in those early days when you are managing sales processes. Was that strictly outsourcing? or was it really not referred to that but effectively taking teams in other countries and outsourcing part of the processes?
Sharon: Yeah, look effectively was running sales and marketing for BPO’s but as an extension of that we give actually offer sales outsourcing as a service. Not only through the telephone but also face to face, so things like field sales and door to door sales when that was involved. The whole idea of managing that customer journey end to end from acquiring the customer no matter through what channel right through to their retention service report and engagement at a customer, know the services you need along the way, which should really where the outsourcing in a tree has blossomed.
Derek: Yeah, absolutely. The kind of stand of BPO industry started in the bigger leagues. It was the massive international conglomerates that really outsource that typically they would take 5 or 10,000 seats to perform very highly repetitive functions. Will you dealing with that end of the market or it’s a just reading between the lines it was slightly more SME market and if so that seems quite ahead of its time?
Sharon: Yeah, well definitely the outsourcing industry started strategy used by big multinational so that’s where I sort of working with big insurance company banks, travel company, retailers that of known brands but over time what’s really exciting in the outsourcing industry is that it’s become accessible to all side businesses as a strategy, and I actually venture to say that outsources in the Philippines more than any other countries as tip-top to put inside its frameworks to make it easy for small business to take work offshore.
Derek: Yeah, it seems the kind of natural progression, isn’t it? and I’m actually just completing a white paper at the moment talking about outsourcing to the Philippines and the industry bodies within the Philippines its come ironically but they see outsourcing now as a little bit of sunset industry stagnating a little bit and that is because basically all of the big conglomerates that could outsource have now been doing that for a couple of decades so there’s seem a stagnation. I actually see maybe you will agree with this but the real growth now is in the SME market and getting all western businesses out there outsourcing because it’s more accessible than ever and also there’s far broader skill sets available now than ever. When you are in the early days of outsourcing, was it predominantly then telesales, tele-support those kinds of functions?
Sharon: Telesales was definitely more popular, cold calling was adapting back then as well as customer service predominantly. I think you are totally right about the opportunities so the small businesses that turn in terms of growth and I think I would actually site a few reason that I do think that’s going to materialized. So one is that the BPO’s have set up sales and account management function in the country where their clients at, so that might be Australia or the US and I think having someone on the ground gives a small in terms of comfort to know if something goes wrong there’s always someone around the corner to meet with and someone who could explain the ins and outs as well, needs someone to offshore for the first time. Secondly, I would say that the entity created by the Philippines has been great at evolving the concept of outsourcing. It’s not one size fits all, it’s not just traditional outsourcing anymore where the outsourcer is responsible for everything at the end. There are other options now that small business might find more attractive such as the outsource just provide the infrastructure and help with the recruitment but the small business take responsibility to managing the staff and the outcomes that they deliver. And it’s also models in between and there’s co-sourcing, it’s particular management that different combinations and blends of the client’s workforce and the BPO workforce which will be different in each case so I think that’s fantastic that company now have that choice to have a mature a little involvement as they want.
Derek: Yeah, we know the status from in it. It’s the industry was coming off huge amount more flexible, isn’t it? and instead of 1000 seat minimum, people obviously taking kind of 2 seats early relationship with SMEs, so it’s really opening up. Are you finding because of the increase in options and flexibility of the role, people might almost be a little bit more confused because there’s such a wide range of best practices, I supposed?
Sharon: That’s right. There is the almost overwhelming amount of choice and that’s where companies like Matchboard and also your business come into play in helping explain to people those options and to help guide them so that they make the right decision to their business. So I think there’s involvement intermediary like ourselves.
Derek: Yeah, absolutely. So with SME then, because I think we are both focusing on that and I think that we both agree that’s where the growth is an opportunity but what do you see as a major hurdle for these small businesses and why aren’t more businesses doing it?
Sharon: Yeah, look, that was a very good question. I think there’s always a fear of the unknown so that’s where the outsourcer the BPOs are addressing that by having someone on the ground so still it’s a small percentage of the BPO set that actually has gone so far to have sales or account managers in the country that they’re hoping to get business from, but I think that really helps because otherwise more business might not have that level of confidence and security. If they can’t physically meet with someone from that organization, so many thousands of miles away. That’s the psychological factor, I think. The other factor is simply lack of education that it has never occurred to some businesses that these options exist. I think the media sometimes doesn’t help because they tend to latch on to the negative protection that outsourcing offshore rather than focusing on the positive. I guess a bit of that media bashing has brought against what is actually in the best interest of small businesses.
Derek: Yeah, I mean as part of our positive messages that we’re putting into the public. We get a little bit of a fightback because there’s potential that loses jobs so we are actually the next white paper that we’ve commissioned is on outsourcing being a win-win so that’s we can really categorize all of the areas where outsourcing is a mutual benefit, it’s a benefit to the home country, the home city but also then the Philippines obviously all outsourcing destination you’re you take the work to. And in terms of outsourcing, it does have a little bit of a bad name, for a minute I asked you just want to talk to you about the old-fashioned cold sales and customer support. I think the industry is still somewhat burdened by 10, 15 years ago people remember calling the bank and get someone of highly incapable trying to manage their customer service needs from an overseas destination, and I think that still has a little bit of a hangover over negative connotation of outsourcing, do you agree? but in terms of that, have you now seen because you said you started on the telesales and that’s developed maybe 20, 25 years. In that core areas of outsourcing, have you, are you comfortable that the sector has advanced as much as technology has advanced?
Sharon: Definitely the landscape is rich with fantastic options but like any industry, there are road players and there are some companies which might be very good at marketing but not so good in the delivery. I think it’s really important to make sure that you spend enough time to get comfortable that you’re choosing the right partner so you can be with for the long term and trust because that’s where those negative stories get blown up in the thousands of sort of proportion relative to the success stories which the majority. So yes, my advice would be just to go through the company you trust for recommendations such as Matchboard, the good and the bad and can reduce the risk of something going wrong by putting in touch with the right genders to start with.
Derek: Yeah, that was fantastic. I supposed we can maybe leave it on that. I’m just trying to do a job encouraging every west in business to at least consider outsourcing and as we’ve mentioned there are this common hurdles of uncertainty and seemingly to arts because we are familiar with the sector. There are such minor hurdles but obviously to those face them there as realist any other consideration but what advice would you give SME if they’re considering outsourcing?
Sharon: The first piece of advice to choose the right hand. Second would be to actually spend the time to go over and meet with the outsourcer to their facility, get to know the person or people who will be in charge of your account on the ground, because it’s not just a case of systems its get, it’s a case of partnership where you absolutely have to understand each other and that involves the investment in time so don’t go into the outsourcing journey, unless you have that time to make your investment worth while, so I would strongly stress that it’s not something you can just buy and say goodbye to, and just expect the outcome will be there.
Derek: It’s true, isn’t it? It’s critical. People get the work delivered by a computer but its an important to remind new clients hoping that it’s actually a human on the other side of a computer and it’s not just a productized service, it is relationship and partnership going forward isn’t it?
Sharon: Yes, exactly.
Derek: Fantastic, thank you so much, Sharon and we’re going to get you back in episode 2 to a discussion of Matchboard more deeply but in the meantime, if someone wants to if anyone wants to get in touch to know more how they can do that?
Sharon: Yes, two things. Go to matchboard.com.au and you’ll see very easily how you can open line and find the perfect match outsourcer. Secondly, on the personal level, I would love to connect with someone from your listeners and you can find me on Linkedin Sharon Melamed and delighted to make new connections.
Derek: That’s fantastic, thank you, Sharon, and of course we have all those details in the show notes.
Sharon: Thank you so much.
Derek: Okay, hope you enjoy that with Sharon Melamed of matchboard.com.au. If you want to know any more about Sharon or anything to do with this episode, then go to our show notes at outsourceaccelerator.com/113, and if you want to ask us anything, anything at all, just drop us an email to [email protected] See you next time.