Simplicity, Impact Sourcing, and Customer-Centric Interactions – Takeaways from the World BPO/ITO 2014 Forum

Posted by Joanne Morrison,
Director of Marketing, HGS Canada

Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not the end …

This quote from the 2012 film, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was used by author Jim Noble to open the World BPO/ITO 2014 Forum in New York City, June 2. Noble used the quote again to close the conference with the audience determining that although the outsourcing industry remains in an ever-changing state of flux, we’re nowhere close to the end.

The two-day forum provided thought-provoking insights into the new directions companies need to consider in a social, mobile, and cloud enabled world where growth requires innovation and cost savings require new approaches to automation.

Marv Adams, COO, TD Ameritrade gave the opening keynote, Seeing Systems…The Key to Agility where he advocated for the elimination of valueless activity. According to Adams, it’s the persistent simplification and elimination of complexity that lead to big successes. Team huddles, weekly problem solving sessions and listening to front-line associates who are closest to the action are the best ways to leverage insights for greater agility.

The panel The Business Case for Impact Sourcing moderated by Nish Acharya, Senior Advisor, Northeastern University described how altruism and the bottom line can coexist. Impact Sourcing, which employs socioeconomically disadvantaged people in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), provides high-quality, reliable services at prices that are at least competitive with traditional BPO centers. According to the Rockefeller Foundation, impact sourcing can in some cases deliver services almost 40% lower than what traditional providers can offer. From Jamaica to Africa, to rural India, this model yields extremely low attrition rates, translating to extreme cost savings for clients.

Chris Lord, SVP Growth and Marketing at HGS, discussed A Practical Approach to Customer-Centric Interactions. This session emphasized the change or die situation for businesses that need to transform quickly to integrate online and offline activities to serve customers 24x7 service in their channels of choice. The paradox is that at the same time, businesses need to balance their own needs for revenue uplift and cost containment within this new digital model. This session provided insight into the current customer service landscape, showcased best practices for customer engagement and provided real-life examples and results from transformative, customer-centric strategies. Chris highlighted the opportunities that social, mobile, analytics and cloud present for enabling better self-service models that increase customer satisfaction and allow companies to deliver a consistent brand experience at low cost. An interesting statistic around the self-service revolution include the fact that, according to a 2012 Synthetix Customer Service Survey, 90% of customers always check a website before calling. Statistics such as this one, support the conclusion that customers use phone support as a last resort, only calling if they can’t self serve. According to another study by Benchmark Portal Inc / Purdue University, consumers who never had a problem with a product are less loyal than those who had their problem resolved, indicating that customer support may just be the single greatest determinate of consumer loyalty and customer lifetime value.

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The takeaways from the session on customer centric interactions were supported by other insightful sessions on robotics, automation, and crowd sourcing. The combination of keynotes, panel discussions, and informal networking opportunities made the 7th annual World BPO/ITO Forum a successful venue for bringing buyers and providers together in an atmosphere of open communication and information sharing.