HGS Trend 3: Customer Service Evolves To Answer Subscription Economy Needs

By Wendy Shlensky, VP, Global Head PR & Analyst Relations

Earlier this year, HGS presented our trends forecast, comprising customer experience (CX) disrupter predictions, supported by practical strategies clients can use to succeed in the changing marketplace. This HGS ebook covers 11 trends, from those in self-service, mobile service, messaging, and social media, to artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and analytics. This year we frame change with the perspectives of an elite group of industry thought leaders. Here, we describe how HGS supports my thought leadership: CX Trend No.3, regarding service.

Trend 3: Service: Customer service evolves to answer the unique needs of the subscription economy

In today’s subscription economy, customer service is a true differentiator. What started with newspaper and magazines has now evolved to real-time, contextual, and personalized product ownership experiences. Think Stitch Fix, Blue Apron, and Zipcar. Customers are buying differently these days. That means evolving service to reflect the changing drivers and outcomes, as related to customer journey touchpoints of awareness, purchase, service, payment, warranty/returns, and retention. Subscription service customers are looking for a seamless, frictionless experience.

Customers often take their experience from one subscription company and port over their expectations to the next one. For example, they expect free two-day shipping, and expect the brand to tell them when thy need to reorder vs. them telling the brand. While the brand can set up automated emails to share reminder refills with the consumers, the customer service agents need to be kept in the loop to ensure they readily answer any questions. Case in point: a brand specializing in customization and personalization can send alerts to customers letting them know it’s time to reorder or r-up their subscription.

A customer service team uninformed about promotions being run by the marketing team can damage a brand’s reputation if they can’t answer consumer questions about the promotion. IT is key for marketing and customer service to work hand-in-hand for subscription services to be successful. Brands that contract out their customer service can have a leg up on non-outsourcing brands. Business process outsourcers typically invest in and incubate the latest technology and can more easily scale support in alignment with seasonal needs.

… That’s my CX trend for 2019. We’re now a quarter through the year, and with recent research suggesting that the subscription economy could exceed $100 billion by next year, I think businesses are definitely on track to focus in this area. In particular, I’d like to emphasize the “buy” aspect of this trend. I think the key is that, while acquiring new customers (subscribers, in this case) is essential, the subscription economy provides significant opportunity for the “buy more” from existing subscribers. To this point, a robust renewal system, with upsell focus, not only helps reduce churn but also paves the way for stronger growth, in terms of expansion of existing accounts and upsells.

Engage, Buy, Bill, Care, Repair, Retain---those are the phases of the consumer journey. BPOs are highly skilled at supporting Buy. Cross-vertical, today’s businesses have needs for direct-to-consumer shopping cart, order tracking, and a range of customer care and account support. BPOs have the solutions—the people, process, and technology—from the traditional brilliant-at-the-basics expertise to the classic care of traditional voice, chat, and email, to the e-care social.  BPOs can provide the full engagement strategy from campaign journey mapping to lead generation and sales to grow wallet share—beyond the table stakes inquiry management and inbound/outbound sales support.  Key to the potential BPOs can provide is their ability to scale operations for the seasonal needs of subscription-based customers.

Here are two highlights of how HGS has provided BPO expertise to support the buy-more focus:

  • Since 2016, HGS has provided inbound and outbound voice, chat and analytics to a global coffee pioneer to generate a 14% exceeds-goal in revenue, as well as 10% increases for basket value and 8% increases for average order value. To do this, we incentivize agents with quality awards, progress tracking, and daily performance reviews. Agents have many opportunities for cross-sell and up-sell with a stringent focus on development of sales skills.
  • Since 2014, HGS has provided direct-to-consumer and B2B support of a high-profile nutrition product for a leading provider of fitness, nutrition, and weight-loss programs. HGS expanded support to also include the client’s on-demand video business line to create more stickiness with their customers.  HGS further bolsters this company’s vibrant retention with a strong partnership for revenue generation and retention, through the use of analytics.  

Proof points like these indicate how HGS direct sales channel support allows CPG companies to extend their ownership of brand relationships, to receive enhanced insights into the customer journey with an optimized customer experience (CX) by strategically using a partner.



Author Info
Wendy Shlensky
Wendy Shlensky

Vice President and Global Head of Public Relations and Industry Analyst Relations for HGS

She started in Industry Analyst Relations over 15 years ago when someone took a chance on her.  Fifteen years and three companies later, she is a sought-after professional specializing in working for “Outsourcing” firms.  She thrives on promoting Industry Analyst Relations and women’s empowerment, as well as facilitating networking opportunities for people in her corner of the world. She won the coveted HGS CEO award in 2016.

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