By Wendy Shlensky, Vice President, Analyst and Advisor Relations, HGS
In today’s marketplace, customer obsession is the new business normal. More and more, companies are reassessing and reconstructing business strategies to prioritize customer engagement and preference. According to a recent NewVoiceMedia study, poor customer service costs companies more than $62 billion. In this changing marketplace, companies can’t afford to be left behind. To survive and thrive in this evolving business landscape, smart businesses are turning to business process outsourcers (BPOs) to help their front lines—their call centers—optimize customer experience. Dramatic cost savings, via rightshoring and labor arbitrage, are increasingly understood as expected outcomes—not necessarily value added—for these partnerships. Here’s my take on the top five advantages.
- BPOs allow companies to focus on their core business.
Many businesses shift focus to growth outside core business; however, according to a sampling of companies as part of a recent McKinsey Global Survey, aspirations to grow through these activities produced only modest results. And few companies had the right resources in place to support such growth. While it seems simple and straightforward, many companies lose sight of what should be their most important focus—the products and/or services that comprise their core business. BPOs enable the elasticity and flexibility to stretch to meet today’s demand and also tomorrow’s expectations.
- BPOs preserve the brand experience.
Canam Research partnered with HGS to conduct “The State of Customer Experience” survey. According to these results, 65% of respondents stated that the main purpose of their contact center is to improve customer experience and brand perception. In terms of brand ambassadorship, BPOs:
- Ensure business continuity.
- Allow for seasonal and as-needed scalability.
- Drive improved customer engagement and retention.
- Ensure the customer journey—by customer—is understood, protected, and celebrated. Because each customer is different.
- Bring CX consistency in brand experience quality across products within one brand.
- As innovation hubs, service vendors can incubate new ideas via Proof of Concept (PoC).
BPO partners can bring the requisite advanced automation and analytics as key drivers of business improvements or process changes. With in-house automation and analytics experience, BPOs know how to analyze these data points and decouple nonessential activities for real operational impact to drive costs down. BPOs also bring the ability to offer “automation and analytics as a service,” relieving organization of the capital and time investment of developing these capabilities in house. According to the HGS-Canan survey, 59% of respondents are leveraging BPOs for reporting and analytics. HGS has employed design thinking and automation to significant results for our own clients. For one major healthcare payer, we employed design thinking to drive cost-containment that far exceeded traditional labor arbitrage—at nearly $900 million in savings in 2017. For another client, we employed intelligent automation with an incentive-based gainsharing model—to drive $3 million in savings. Service providers are uniquely positioned as innovation hubs and PoC experts since they work with multiple clients and technology partners.
- BPOs help businesses turn the customer service cost center into a profit center.
Don’t underestimate the role BPOs can play helping generate profits. For one U.S. consumer products leader, HGS provided a CHAT solution, highlighted by a discount option to avoid cart abandonment. This feature prompts the customer with a message once they abandon the cart that says, “Would you like a coupon?” If the customer hits “yes” then it pops open a chat window, allowing our team to give the customer a coupon code and help them finish making their purchase. This proactive chat solution supported by HGS has helped the client increase conversions by over 40%. For one of Asia's largest and finest group of hotels, we employed a customer service and dialer strategy to help drive an approximately 400% spike in revenue from new loyalty program sales as well as a more than 38% conversion rate increase for renewals.
- With the location scalability of BPOs, companies can meet customers where they are and play in a globalized marketplace.
BPOs can bring the rightshoring solution that works for a company’s unique needs. With a targeted offering, agents are brand advocates who understand and support both brand and customers. A BPO will use the same universally applied processes to hire, train, and retain employees to ensure brand protection across the globe. With this approach, BPOs bring consistent, seamless service that is globally local and ready to ramp as a company grows. Additionally, BPOs handle the often complex local HR requirements that can change on a regular basis. These BPO advantages bring previously unrecognized value in today’s marketplace. As BPOs are playing a more consultative role, they are bringing these new and unexpected benefits—beyond traditional cost savings from labor arbitrage.