Business in the Spotlight: FM Outsource
We recently spoke with Martin Brown, a self-confessed nerd and general manager of FM Outsource, a rapidly growing company in the digital channel management space which is greatly disrupting how outsourcing works! Great to see a new business model implemented in a rigid sector.
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I’m General Manager of FM Outsource Limited. I have been working with contact centres for the past 20 years+ and especially around introducing new technologies. Essentially I am a nerd. Always have been and always will be. Bluetooth duffle coat etc. and it’s great to see being a nerd become a badge of honour rather than derision (that could be just me imagining that as a fact but please don’t disabuse me of it!)
What is your company all about?
FM Outsource Limited provide contact centre staff to businesses, currently mainly in retail and logistics, but we are looking wider. We are quite small (just under 400 colleagues) but we are expanding very quickly. We only had 30 staff, 3 years ago. We have also gained a reputation in digital contact channel management and have enjoyed disrupting the outsourcing space by focusing on cost reduction and cost per contact methods of making using our services devoid of a barrier to entry. By adding in 24/7 and multilingual then if you only have 4 emails and a tweet at 2 am in French we want your business. This is great for either start-ups or for enterprises to trial our services.
As the son of a miner, watching the UK move from primary industry to the service sector has been painful at times and it has taken us a long time to get used to this movement. Once we got back to our roots of innovation and never say die, I have seen a resurgence in what UK businesses can offer. My vision for FM Outsource is that we demonstrate customer care (not customer service) involves an emotional connection and a real drive to care about consumers. I’d like to think people use our services, not because of cost or technology but because their customers love what we do for them. There is a real synergy here. Outsourcing is often focused entirely on the cost to serve but businesses are starting to accept the cost of serving badly is more important. It’s not an onshore versus offshore issue (we have offices in Dubai, USA and the UK), it’s about the skillset. Digital communications are greater in terms of a tendency to repeat contact and demand with an always-on, anytime, anywhere, any platform, any time, any channel, any device approach. This agnostic approach to putting the consumer ahead of the internal processes is where we put our passion. Also, back to being nerds. I have a lot of nerds who love what they do and like most nerds, we have a real desire to win. Anything!
What kind of do you think people make great entrepreneurs?
A lot of successful entrepreneurs have seen huge distress and had to overcome them. Think of Richard Branson’s dyslexia, or Steve Job being adopted. My own version of that was seeing and living through the miners’ strikes of the 70s and 80s. To watch big men (including my father) go through a process which had an unavoidable end and such huge splits in the community with massive financial hardship was heartbreaking.
“The best Entrepreneurs are Nerds. All of them.”
I took those experiences and built a business not afraid to change when needed – and to think about people first. Oh, and the obvious one – the best entrepreneurs are nerds. All of them
Why is word of mouth important to you as a business?
We have grown from 30 to 400 staff in 3 years purely down to friend get friend referrals in the business community. The truth is we are now ready to add to that with other ways of growing – we have relied on it too much. However, without word of mouth, we wouldn’t be here. Also, given a new customer is 5 times more expensive to recruit than retaining an existing customer, word of mouth has a great meta benefit – it ensures your current customers are happy and that for me is the greatest benefit of all.
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