How to Extend Your Customer Experience Strategy to Your Outsourcing Team

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You’ve conducted your “experience audit” and walked miles in your customers’ metaphorical shoes.

You’ve labored over reworking processes and playing diplomat to keep the management team in alignment on the customer experience strategy.



You’ve trained your teams to deliver on the company’s “experience” vision.

You’re measuring key metrics tied to the customer experience to keep a pulse on customer sentiment.  

If you’ve already achieved the above, pat yourself on the back, you’re ahead of the game and ahead of your competition – according to research firm eConsultancy, only 26% of companies claim to have a well-developed customer experience strategy.  

Some would find the low rate of companies adopting a well-defined customer experience strategy surprising given the evidence of the real value in delivering a superior customer experience. If you’re in the 74% of companies without a well-developed customer experience strategy, you’re probably struggling with how to get started – the same research by eConsultancy found that 40% of companies say “complexity” is the greatest barrier to improving the multichannel customer experience. It’s that old adage: how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Taking the first bite can be the hardest part of the process.. One element that makes delivering consistent customer experiences “complex” is not only how to manage across your own enterprise, but also how to extend it to your outsourced partners. The contact center is often maligned when discussing customer experience. Even though the customer experience is not exclusively delivered from the contact center, it is the primary customer touch point to carrying the company’s customer experience torch.

Here are four ways to help extend your customer experience vision to your outsourced contact center partner:



1.     Look for a Partner With Shared Values
If your partner doesn’t demonstrate that they value the customer experience like you do, chances are it’s not a fit. If you’re issuing a contact center RFP, ask for detailed examples where they have a defined customer experience program in place. If you tour the center, take note of the culture. Does it feel like home? If there’s a huge divide between your mutual values and culture and those of your contact center partner, you may find your outsourced partner challenged to deliver your desired level of quality customer experiences.
 
2.     Define the Measurement System
It’s possible to quantify your customer experience initiative when you have the right dots connected. When turning to an outsourced contact center partner, carefully craft your KPIs and critical standards to measure factors that truly impact experience. It is worth examining which measurements are key to how your customers perceive quality. Does measuring AHT as a KPI add stress to agents and detract from the customer experience? Are your hold times and procedures aligned with your customer satisfaction scores? Is First Call Resolution critical or do you want your agents to escalate quickly for delicate service scenarios?

The right partnership to deliver the best customer experience goes well beyond the grade of service. Make sure your contractual KPIs are well-designed to deliver on the right customer experience. Be sure to look at the impact of  KPIs like average length of phone calls, average hold times, incident rates on the overall experience as well as including overall customer satisfaction metrics (CSAT) integrating Net Promoter Score (NPS) goals in your contract.
 
3.     Ensure all Customer Touch Points (Processes) are Consistent Between In-House and Outsourced Teams
An essential ingredient to a successful customer experience program (and extending it to your outsourced partner) is ensuring the critical events along the customer’s end-to-end journey are consistent. If your outsourced partner is responsible for a set of customer touch points, validate the process is working as desired by implementing defined processes and measurements for these touch points and comparingto that of your own efforts.   

So if, for example, a customer contacts a member of your outsourced team with a billing inquiry: how easy it is for an agent to access the answer? How seamless are your systems? Are your tools as intuitive as possible? What are the barriers to a quick, efficient resolution? If the agent has to escalate, how simple is the handoff to the next level? What processes are in place to ensure the baton does not get dropped? Have you done an audit of how well you are integrating not just technology, but the systems, people, and processes necessary to give your contact center the best foundation to deliver on experience?

In our world, it is so easy to focus on “making the grade.” Can your organization make 2015 the year you shift attention from reaching service level to creating a differentiated customer experience? Can you start to see making your grade of service as an outcome of well-designed systems and processes supported by a well-staffed, well-trained team of empowered agents and not the goal itself? If the priority goal is customer experience, and the right measures are in place, and your partner has a strong workforce management solution  working toward staffing for customer experience, making the grade should happen naturally. Are you up for the challenge?
 
4.     Assimilate the Outsourced Team into Your Culture
This one is tricky, but critically important. Companies spend decades establishing a culture that ultimately weaves into the DNA of the company – think Zappos, Ritz Carlton, Southwest Airlines, and Disney. The best outsourcers understand that they also need to absorb each respective clients’ culture to deliver an experience that is on par with expectations. Dig into your outsourcer’s methodology for grasping this element of the customer experience. At Blue Ocean, we employ various methods like sending teams of agents to the in-house center, culture training, and creating similar workplace environments to that of our clients.

Other than the warm and fuzzy intangible customer experience benefit, there certainly can be tangible results an impact to the bottom line . A recent HBR article noted a high customer experience score can result in a 2.7X increase in revenue per customer.  In 2012, Watermark Consulting found that the stock price of companies with leading customer experience delivered a 22.5% return, contrasted against the “customer experience laggards,” which had a -46.3% return on their stock price.

Rarely does a company deliver outstanding customer experience without well thought-out strategies, processes, and measurement tools. In the coming years as companies claw for market share and increased revenues, your competition will surely follow and perhaps customer experience will be the new battleground for companies in the future



If you’re searching for a partner who can meet your customer experience expectations and scale with your business, feel free to reach out to us. We’d be happy to share ways we can help.

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