It’s time to rethink connected services and the way we interact with our customers.

A lot has changed during the last 20 years in the customer service sphere, and it’s vital that companies engaging in it change too – and challenge themselves to be better. That change is not about to decelerate, and Gartner predicts that by next year, a poor Customer Experience will destroy 30 percent of digital business projects.

Cost is killing innovation and that problem must be solved.

Tackling the swipe right mentality

First, let’s set the scene.

Twenty-seven percent of the world’s adult population was born between 1995 and 2010, and they have never known a world before the era.

1995 saw the launch of Amazon, eBay, Hotmail, VoIP, PHP, SSL, Javascript, and HTML 2.0, and even those technologies, though still hugely important today, will feel antiquated to the 65 percent of those currently at school today who will be doing jobs that don’t exist yet. And a similar number, we’ve discovered, would sooner stick their head down a toilet than get in touch with a contact centre.

Some reputation, eh?

But it’s symptomatic of the world we live in today, where a ‘swipe right’ mentality trumps persevering with something that isn’t immediately easy to engage with. Of course, we must seek to equip our customers with the tools to help themselves, but that isn’t enough.

Customer engagement opportunities should be cause for celebration and an opportunity to reaffirm a brand’s worth.

Large and small players

The latest figures tell us that 20 percent of customer contact is now outsourced in the UK and there is nothing inherently wrong with this approach. It provides brands with an opportunity to deliver service through specialists, where scale and diversity can help smooth out some of overhead challenges, like needing to house people in buildings and equipping them with the right technology.

The problem, however, is the drive for low-cost servicing that often comes with it. Larger players seek to be the lowest bidder, putting technology between people and service to achieve the bottom line.

Smaller players are sometimes able to offer an approach that ‘cares’ more, but too often can’t compete with a technology and innovation offer. Furthermore, the squeeze on margins through the procurement process has jeopardised how people relate to service delivery.

And disparate delivery creates a fragmented approach that makes no sense to the poor individual who decided to make that call – instead of taking the ‘head down loo’ approach!

Innovation killers

Customers have become commodities and service a number on a balance sheet, and this cost game is killing innovation.

Three-in-ten (29 percent) UK customers are prepared to pay more to receive a great customer service, while 36 percent say they’ll stop doing business with a brand due to poor customer service.

And those numbers are growing all the time.

It’s not just about getting it right; getting it ‘extra right’ increases brand favourability. Those customers who had a positive experience that was better than expected were more than twice as likely to increase their brand favourability than those who had a positive experience that was in line with, or worse, than expectations.

These surveys were done a couple of years ago, but I believe expectations will have only increased. This is why getting it ‘extra right’ can increase brand favourability two-fold.

Meeting expectations

The marketplace is also waking up to the realisation that the more competitive and rapidly-changing the sector, the more at risk they are of not meeting expectations. For example, airlines are five times more likely than public services to have customers citing ‘better experiences with competitors’ cited as a reason why a ‘service encounter’ failed to meet their expectations2.

And studies have concluded that consumers’ expectations are influenced by a much wider body of prior experiences than before. They now go beyond directly comparable sectors, and this should mean there is more of a focus on more fluid expectations in the future.

For many, the experience of booking train travel is now comparable to the experience of online shopping; we’re simply doing more stuff online.

Tail wagging the dog

In other words, I believe that the tail is wagging the dog when it comes to service delivery, simply because service is the biggest driver of value.  So, it is all the more baffling that brands continue to force bad business solutions onto customers.

All customers want are simple, responsive services – regardless of who they are chatting to or what they are chatting about, and whether that be through voice or text.

Innovating, not cost-cutting

In a market that is increasingly becoming defined by a ‘lowest-cost’ approach, it’s time to shatter the myth that out-sourcing is simply a cost-cutting exercise. There is growing demand from customers for responsive, connected, and seamlessly delivered services – and out-sourcing is helping to meet those challenges.

But the so-called ‘race to the bottom’ that cost-cutting creates is damaging the market and causing businesses to overlook the true benefits of partnering with a specialist outsourced contact centre provider.

A good Business Process Outsourcer (BPO) provider should work with its clients to understand their reasons for outsourcing their customer contact centre, and incorporate them as fundamental elements of the services we provide.

The provider will work with clients to deliver each of these benefits and build a relationship that is defined by far more than just an advisor hourly rate.

On our own journey as an outsourcing solutions provider, we strive to be open and pragmatic in everything we do and aim to offer something unique and different in the industry, all while shattering myths like this one along the way!

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