Interview with Ian Jackson
are the most creative outsourcing partner for high-growth tech companies. They help their clients to tackle the challenges associated with that growth by allowing them to keep quality high, maintain profit margins and focus management attention on what is truly important to their business. They run their clients' operating teams.
Their core areas of specialism are in back office support, e-commerce support, customer care, technical product support, content moderation and sales, and marketing support. Their clients come from around the globe and include FinTech companies, social apps, insurance agencies, e-commerce firms, consumer goods manufacturers and more.
Hi Ian! Could you please introduce your work with Enshored and tell us a bit more about what led to your founding the company?
Enshored is a leading provider of outsourced solutions to global technology companies, e-commerce companies, and social networks. We've been around since 2014 and, in that time, we've grown the company from a standing start up to over 400 people. We're operating out of two offices in Metro Manila in the Philippines. The company was founded in 2014 by myself and my business partner after a chance meeting, both of us were keen to make a bigger impact in life, own our own business, and we were both working for other people at that time and saw an opportunity together with our combined experience around shared service centers and operating in global labor markets to make a real go of things with Enshored.
How did you build up the networks with partners in the Philippines? What makes the Philippines such an idea location for operations outsourcing?
One of the most commonly asked questions we get at Enshored is why we are operating in the Philippines and why do we see the Philippines as being so crucial to the success of our company. And, I think, for me that's one of the easiest things for me to answer. And for anyone who's ever gone to Manila and witnessed the way that the city runs and the country runs, would answer that question. They are, by far and away, the most willing people on the planet to work whichever hours are required to make their customers happy. So our office is busiest, incredibly so, between the hours of 9 in the evening until 6 in the morning. That's the equivalent of East Coast hours in the US and that's when the majority of our customer support people are in and answering questions. And that's just part of a flow that starts with the European day and goes through to the Pacific day, and then finally into the Asian day. And I think there's nothing quite like being in the office on a Saturday morning as people start to wind down, our main teams start winding down 7 and 8 AM on a Saturday morning and, you know, looking back on what we've achieved in the previous week. Although most of our clients are fairly stable, there are always challenges and issues to tackle, and we get to the end of every week and see just what a good job we've done in terms of meeting the demanding requirements of our clients. And, you know, celebrating the end of the week over breakfast in Manila is one of my favorite things when I'm out there.
What are some of the main mistakes companies tend to make when choosing an outsourcing option for their operations?
So the question is what are the main mistakes companies make when they're outsourcing - I think there are a few things that we've seen that certainly are quite addressable. The first thing is that the person who's going to work with your outsourced team really needs to want to work with the outsourcer, and wants it to work. They need to be ready to give their input at the beginning, to train the trainer, to train the pioneer team, to make sure that they have everything they need to be successful. One of the other problems that we see is that some companies don't have the process documentation and aren't clear enough themselves of what the process is that they want us to be doing for them, or with other outsourcers. And the challenge with that is then, you know, how are you going to judge success, when are you going to judge success, how are you going to prioritize issues? If you don't have that information available to you at the beginning then it's very difficult to make outsourcing work. Generally, we look to an initial three-month bedding-in period to really get to know our clients really well and we need them to be patient with us as we learn what are, often intricate business processes. You can take a customer service team and work with many other people successfully and they can have some roadblocks as they start to learn the unique tone of voice in a way that one of our clients wants to answer questions. I think the other problem many people make with outsourcing is they pick the wrong location and the wrong partner. You need to find somebody who has people who can work when you need them to work and you also need to make sure that you're aligning with somebody who's culturally aligned with your core values yourself.
How have you built up your client base throughout the past five years? How have you expanded your service offering to meet the needs of new clients?
One of the biggest challenges for any business, I think, is working out how you grow your client base: Who do you want to have as clients and why and how are you going to make them want to come and work with you; how are you going to make them change their practices. So when we started the business we were pretty scattergun, we spoke to everybody in our network and promised that we could do anything that we felt would work in an outsourced environment. And over the past five years, that's become a little bit more sophisticated as we really understand what we are particularly good at ourselves. And in terms of the client size, the type of work, and the things that we are passionate about, we like to work with companies who are nimble and moving quickly and who view us as a partner. And I think what has been critical for most of our successful relationships is having that sense of working alongside someone. And so the fact that we've been quite successful with nearly all of the clients we've worked with over the past five years, and obviously you're going to have some situations where things go a little bit wrong, in spite of those challenges, what we found as a huge driver of pipeline beyond the traditional networking and outreach and inbound, has been through referrals. Many of our biggest clients today came through referrals from other clients. And I don't think you can do any better than to have your clients go out and tell their friends and former work colleagues from somewhere else that a company like Enshored is the right person for them to partner with for their success. And we've been really lucky with having great clients who recognize the good work we do for them and valuing us.
What's next for your work with Enshored? What are the main services, partnerships and projects you'll be focusing on throughout the next year?
One of my big challenges as the CEO is to set the direction for the company and work out what we need to work on next. Over the past year, we've built a tremendous infrastructure and an operating framework, and the goal for us now is to work out how to scale it. So what does that mean at Enshored? Well, a few things I think, first of all, we need to work out - do we need to set up operations in other markets to meet needs which we can't meet right now? And certainly, that's a conversation we're having with some people. We also, whenever we get a little bit of quieter time, we're always looking to strengthen and deepen our middle management. I think that in an outsourcing environment if you don't have great middle managers, you're going to fail. If the senior execs are firefighting then nobody is focusing on growing the business and all the other stuff that goes into making a successful company. So, I think that you know, the more we can nurture great team captains to become great operations managers and continue to give them challenges that fit their career trajectory and where they're at, at that point in time, the better. And we're a huge believer in working with our people and making them the best versions of themselves. And then, we're always looking at new markets and new partners to work with in terms of rooting out additional new business opportunities and new service lines. We're really interested right now in AI and where we can come and help around consulting around AI. We're also interested in working with clients and looking at their language requirements.