As goods and services increasingly become commoditized on a global scale, companies are looking for new ways to reduce costs, customer churn, and make the most of their existing customer base. In order to whittle down their overhead, many companies are looking at outsourcing their service delivery groups. But with the reward of efficiency comes the risk of customer disconnect. By placing a third party on the front lines, companies are potentially missing out on valuable opportunities to learn from their customers.
Going Beyond CRM with CEM
The ultimate goal to any outsourcing venture is to maximize efficiency while maximizing opportunity. That’s where Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions come into play. Whereas CRM focuses more on how to sell to your customer, CEM is an essential add-on that focuses more on making them happy and building customer loyalty. That’s because CEM provides an effective way of extracting tangible, useable customer feedback in real time, no matter who’s doing the interaction.
In the end, customers are perhaps a company’s most valued resource. It’s been shown that increasing retention by as little as 1 percent can boost an organization’s profits by 5 percent or more. In addition to being the source of your revenue, customers are also a valuable information tool that companies can tap into to drive business improvement, brand loyalty, and ultimately growth and profitability. In fact, many companies survive because of their ability to track and react to information provided by their customers.
Conversely, once a company loses touch with its customers, its entire long-term success becomes jeopardized. Most companies are quite adept at tracking how frequently a specific customer buys a product or service and how much revenue that accounts for. Few, however, have a way of measuring that customer’s overall satisfaction level, that is, they have no idea whether the customer provided positive or negative feedback or conveyed potentially valuable suggestions to the outsourced service agent involved.
Understanding how outsourcers manage customer experiences is crucial to making outsourcing relationships work. Although the process may be someone else’s responsibility now, companies still need to understand why customers choose, stay or leave.
Moreover, what are the outsourcer’s best practices? What areas need to be improved upon? What would your customers have you change in the service levels? CEM helps organizations answers such questions in a timely manner. In this way, CEM helps businesses stay connected to their customers so they can better understand how individual experiences can drive loyalty or customer churn.
Learning to Listen
In order to make an outsourcing venture successful from a CEM perspective, companies must incorporate the following three objectives into their outsourcing plan — ideally at the RFP stage:
- Customer Transparency: Knowing how customers view the quality and delivery of the services provided by the outsourcer, monitoring the best and worst aspects of the business from a customer perspective
- Business Improvement: Implementing a methodology and framework to provide an auditable, continuous customer-driven improvement process. Systems and processes should be put into place to maintain 100 percent accountability for the delivery of consistent quality in customer interactions and experiences;
- Business Alignment: Educating employees about the value of the customer and using appropriate communication tools to ensure outsourcers have the right information to improve individual areas of the customer experience.
By weaving these three key elements into their outsourcing business processes from the beginning, companies can better leverage their most valuable resource — their customers. It essentially provides a built-in system to hear the voice of your customer so the benefits of that knowledge can be used for business advantage.
Improving Your Odds
The unfortunate truth is that most outsourcing projects fail. Even after they’re dead and buried, companies are left paying for them, often for years. CEM solutions, however, can significantly improve the chances of success by linking you directly to the voice of your customer. In short, CEM lets you hear what your customers are saying, as they’re saying it. With that ability to measure the quality and success of your customer interactions in real-time, CEM can help companies pinpoint business improvement opportunities that will drive growth, revenue, and profitability.
Outsourcing doesn’t have to be a bad thing, as long as you don’t lose sight of what makes you successful — your customers. By outsourcing your processes and not your customers, you really can reduce expenses while improving service. So go ahead, have your cake, and eat it too.
Syed Hasan, is the CEO of ResponseTek Networks, a global leader in customer experience management software and services.