Globally, the BPO industry is seeing an explosion of demand for customer care services, fueled by a global consumer base increasingly reliant on online platforms. As consumers become more familiar with these platforms, service expectations have evolved to where customer experience (CX) is linked with customer satisfaction levels more than ever before.
In line with this, companies should regularly review their support solutions to ensure that they are offering customers the best CX, rather than focusing solely on if calls meet technical requirements.
With that in mind, this article describes three issues inhibiting the achievement of optimal customer care outcomes in 2021 and beyond.
1. Automation is being deployed at the expense of Customer Experience (CX)
In the last decade or so, automated solutions such as interactive voice response (IVR), robotic process automation (RPA), and conversational artificial intelligence (AI) through chatbots have shown to improve call centre efficiency and ultimately reduce costs.
However, despite evolving technology in the field of automation, many of the largest brands in the world still invest in call centres with human agents. Interaction with a live agent has shown to be reliable in creating positive customer journeys and satisfied customers. In a focus group survey of over 1300 people, 90% of respondents indicated that in a customer service journey, they aimed to speak to a live customer agent. This implies that not all automated solutions are necessarily effective.
“Customer service technologies are tools for the human team, not total replacements. AI futurists tell us it is only around the corner that we will be replaced, but humans have emotions as an advantage. Hence, the ‘human touch’ will still have a place in work” – Chandima Hemachandra, CTO, Scicom
If new automated features are not able to satisfy customer needs, CSAT scores may decline and the company’s brand may be hampered in the long run. The truth is that many automated technologies have great potential but have not reached the stage where results show improved CX compared to voice-based agents. Therefore, prioritizing customer experience when launching automation programs has shown to be a more sustainable approach in this day and age.
At Scicom, we look for any opportunity to optimize and automate operations but develop our automation solutions with CX as the driving factor. Our solutions are developed with the primary goal of improving a customer’s journey while also reducing cost and improving efficiency.
2. Quality Assurance (QA) metrics have become pedantic
One reason why contact centre operators face challenges trying to increase customer CSAT scores is that quality assurance (QA) teams fail to harmonise client requirements with customer experience best practices.
QA teams often are too rigid in how they assess a call, nit-picking on pedantics like “did the agent say Sir/Madam?” rather than looking at if the customer was satisfied with the service they have received overall. This has led to a discrepancy between QA scores and customer feedback, and contradictory situations where QA teams score a call poorly despite the customer giving positive feedback. Why would companies focus on anything other than how satisfied the customer was?
At Scicom, quality assurance is conducted using a flexible yet formulaic approach that considers the customer’s feedback as paramount. Once call samples are collected, QA agents evaluate interactions based on internal quality criteria, and cross-reference this with feedback from customers to ensure that the quality criteria used to evaluate and coach employees remains relevant and aligned to the needs of the customer. Furthermore, the QA team also meets regularly with clients to adjust all relevant KPIs and metrics.
Additionally, Scicom utilises a range of quality assurance controls and initiatives to ensure end users receive high quality support. Analytical tools help ensure data is retrieved quickly with attention given to calls with the highest priority (e.g. low CSAT scores). Overall, these practices provide agents with adequate data and resources to ensure customer service delivery remains par excellence.
3. A customer-centric mindset is not exhibited across all teams
The best customer care happens when there is a personalised interaction with a customer, which leads to an efficient exchange of information, and a swift resolution of the customer’s issue. It has been common knowledge for decades that for contact centre operators to truly provide the best customer experience, agents of today must act as brand ambassadors for their clients as opposed to just conduits to information. This has led to a large amount of emphasis being put on agents having a high level of product knowledge and speaking in a friendly, concerned, and confident manner.
Nowadays, it has gone further than solely training agents to embody a brand’s values. For CX to truly reach its potential, all the moving parts of a BPO operation (from managers to individual agents) must be acutely aware of their customer’s expectations. Often times call centres try to offer potential clients the cheapest solution, but not necessarily one that will deliver the best CX possible. Inevitably, adoption of technology without a customer-centric focus can lead to declining CX and CSAT scores.
At Scicom, we use an optimal strategy to ensure that each department across a client’s BPO operation considers customer experience the primary factor to measure success upon. This ensures that end-to-end processes and operations are in alignment, and that technological innovation stays focused on delivering the best customer experience.
Luckily, these customer care issues are solvable
As such, companies of today should take note of the following practices when embarking on their customer care journeys.
Automated solutions should always keep customer experience as the focal point of improvement. Tools like conversational AI chatbots do an incredible job of mimicking a live agent’s dialogue, but the intangible desire to speak to a real person about a problem will never go away. If contact centre operators lose sight of this fact, these investments may end up doing more damage than help.
As far as improving the quality of today’s customer care, QA teams ought to proactively collect call data for the most problematic calls to assess customer service delivery and client requirements concurrently.
It is also essential for BPOs to be in agreement that delivering CX is their primary goal, and that any deterioration of CX for the sake of reduced costs is unsustainable in the long run.