Alorica - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog
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As customers become more empowered with their selection process of new goods and services, it is imperative that businesses work harder to retain the customers they have. The cost to attract new customers continues to increase, making it harder to grow business profitably without a steady base of loyal customers. The customer experience leaders have long held that it is more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one–four to 25 times more expensive–depending on the source and industry.[i] This principle of customer loyalty is referred to as the Net Promoter Score®[ii]movement. Giving your customers incentive to stay is the key to retention, but how do you do that in such a competitive environment?
Listen to your customers’ needs:
Take the time to know your customers. Who are they and what do they really want? Ask simple and pointed questions to get to the root of understanding their needs and wants, what is working and what isn’t, and how they feel about their current service delivery. This can be accomplished through email surveys, phone marketing, exit interviews, or by proactively monitoring social media and online customer forums. For tips on surveying your customers, read this informative article presented by Survey Monkey.[iii]
Act on the data you gather:
Change when change is needed, and adapt your business to accommodate the customers you serve. Tailor your support structure and offerings based on their feedback. Let your customers know you heard them. Provide alternative solutions where known issues exist. Proactively offer something (e.g., discount, promo item, etc.) to acknowledge those who take the time to provide feedback. Furthermore, provide an array of methods to ask questions and resolve issues. These options should include human interaction (phone or chat) and self-help (IVR, Web or social). Connecting with your customers and addressing their needs will increase their likelihood of staying satisfied longer, which directly impacts your ability to retain and grow your market share.
Respect your customers’ time:
Each interaction you have with your customers should be effortless and personalized. Customers can sense scripted pitches and checklists, and they are more likely to make a connection with a real person than a script. A captive audience is not necessarily the most appropriate opportunity to sell. Listen and take action to resolve customers’ needs first so they feel valued. Build trust and rapport—explain what you can and will do each step of the way. Ask questions to understand how they use your product or service, or identify opportunities to educate them on how to get the most out of the product or service going forward. Once you confirm their needs are met and thank them for their business, let them get on with their day. Respecting their time makes them feel appreciated. Over-solicitation of new offerings that don’t fit their needs could push them to a competitor. A great example of this is the migration of users from MySpace to Facebook[iv] after a change in the site design to make advertising work in social media.
It is critical to understand your customers and your competition. The marketplace is constantly changing, and what customers see and experience elsewhere sets the bar for their expectations. Keeping pace with the market prevents customer perception that there is something better out there. As new offers or solutions become available, enable your front-line to articulate the differences and/or provide counter offers to align with the perceived value of competitive products. By being agile in the face of market disruption, you can avoid the fate of once iconic brands no longer in existence.[v]
To reduce costly customer churn, the key is to stay focused on and connected with the customers you have, listen and adapt to their feedback, respect their time, and ensure your offers and solutions are competitively relevant. For help getting started, or for a more in-depth review of customer experience best practices, contact EGS today.
[ii] Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score, and NPS are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.
Publish Date: July 14, 2016 5:00 AM
The Importance of Acquisition and Retention
Let’s start with a couple facts. It’s been shown that:
- A 5% increase in customer retention can boost profits by 25%
- Brand promoters are worth 3x more than passive customers, and 7x more than detractors
- Companies with greater retention rates account for 75% of that additional value, and encouraging a passive customer to become a promoter is roughly 3x more valuable than convincing a detractor to become passive
The truth is, many companies have difficulty acquiring and retaining customers. So what’s the solution? How can you keep your business in motion and on an upward trend by not only bringing on new customers, but maintaining the customer relationships you already possess?
It’s Good to Get Analytical.
Analytics are critical for maintaining and growing your customer base because they play a large role in making those customers feel cared for. Analytics allow you to reach the right customers at the right time, increase your propensity to connect, convert and ensure customers are more likely to stay in contact with your brand. In addition, analytics let companies personalize the customer experience, reducing the need for mass sales pitches or blanket selling.
Our extensive analytical capabilities track (among other metrics) time of day, lead demographics and scoring, bucket reports (funneling customers to help drive conversion) and number of call attempts. And yet, analytics are practically useless unless you can truly put them to work.
Actionable Analytics: Why Analysis Matters
The sad truth is that analytics are often only reported, and not analyzed. This leads to lowered effectiveness for the company as well as decreased revenue opportunities, as potential sales are lost by continuing to mass-sell (versus targeting preferred demographics).
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Data enables companies to build warm lead lists, predict propensity to connect and increase first-attempt connects, all of which can help increase your sales results as much as 20-25%.
The Bottom Line
Access to analytics is important, but analyzing the analytics – putting the data to work for you – that’s where the difference is made. It’s all about predictive models that leverage diverse sources of data such as text, survey responses, and customer profiles. Our Center of Analytical Excellence has access to data from over 300 million households, which, when coupled with Alorica’s 30 years of experience, allows us to fully analyze and interpret information – and not just merely spit out numbers.
That’s how you gain customers. That’s how you keep customers. Simply put, that’s what grows your company. And growing your company is what Alorica is all about.
Publish Date: May 25, 2016 5:00 AM
Get to know the best duo since peanut butter and
If you want to generate revenue, you’ll want to read on.
When it’s time to move beyond the status quo, companies start to explore incorporating revenue generating programs into their client offering. But finding a customizable solution that will generate revenue for your company while meeting your specific metrics and addressing unique challenges can be daunting. We’d recommend starting your search by reading our brochure: MAKING IT RAIN: Enhancing your bottom line with Alorica. Need another reason? It’s a faster read than Lord of the Rings.
A major element of our revenue generation solution is the role of the Dialer Manager. Not simply a regular position on the floor, these specialized team members deal with all inbound/outbound data pertaining to your program. They also manage lead lists and create effective dialing strategies – strategies that let us reach the right customers, at the right time, with the right message.
Dialer Managers: Behind the Scenes
Generating revenue comes down to dialing strategy and applying research and analytics in such a way that your customers are contacted effectively and efficiently. Strategies are born from knowledgeable interpretation of this analysis, and are tweaked according to program successes and stumbles. In addition to managing the lead lists, the DM applies filters, oversees land line/cell phone allocation, scores agent skills and analyzes historical and interval reporting to identify critical trends.
You know, the easy stuff.
Dialer Managers are uber-important in the revenue generation process, because they are at the heart of improving agent performance and overall customer experience. They also play a large role in compliance – making sure we observe local and federal dialing regulations, splitting up lead lists to conform with cell phone directives and working closely with QA teams to ensure all calls are properly handled and monitored.
Finally, our Dialer Managers are just part of our proprietary sales process, Boost. What’s Boost, you ask? Well, you’ll just have to read that brochure we told you about. Sorry. You’re officially out of excuses.
Publish Date: May 18, 2016 5:00 AM
Many end-of-term contact center outsourcing contracts are not renewed. How can buyers and providers increase the likelihood of contract renewals, value-driven partnerships and differentiated outcomes? It actually requires both parties to invest in the relationship right from the beginning. Building a strong foundation by creating connectivity, deepening mutual business knowledge, and driving innovation and quality improves buyer/provider relationships and increases customer satisfaction. Furthermore, long-term partnerships create financial benefits and brand protection.
Engagement starts with developing a communication plan and governance model designed to create meaningful connections at all levels within a partnership. Executive and senior leadership presence (on both sides) indicates commitment and investment in the relationship, and should be managed through an executive steering committee.
However, it doesn’t stop at the top. Everyone needs to feel valued and part of the process for true success and long-term viability. Engaging agents with a client’s brand and culture is absolutely crucial. Agents who feel they are part of the team bring passion and commitment to their role, taking ownership and delivering a better customer experience.
Buyers often underestimate the importance of their role in driving engagement. Buyers need to be visible and involved. Agents are smart, and they can tell when the provider and the client are walking the walk together, not just delivering lip service.
Deepen Mutual Business Knowledge
A successful provider is more than an extension of a client – they are a critical part of the client’s brand.
Successful providers understand their client’s overall business direction and objectives. And, buyers need to know the same of their providers. Both participants need to take the time necessary to educate one another in these matters in order to serve each other in the best possible way. This level of commitment and communication must exist to establish a mutually beneficial relationship, with both parties focused on one goal and acting as one brand.
Drive Innovation and Quality
Successful companies make innovation a repeatable process. Providers need to deliver innovation across the service operation – recruitment, training, quality, and more. Quality mutual agreements plan for innovation by incorporating the right metrics and incentives, as well as including innovation as a standing agenda item in Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs).
All contact centers, outsourced or not, experience some level of stress around quality. Focusing on cost and operating efficiency at the expense of customer experience is a key driver of quality stress. Efficiency and effectiveness measures are always relevant. Committing to business outcome measures like Net Promoter Score and Customer Effort Score allow providers and buyers to drive a more invested partnership and deliver a better, customer-focused experience.
The Bottom Line
Engaged outsourcing relationships don’t just happen—they are purposefully built. Buyers hire service providers to deliver the resources and expertise to more efficiently meet the needs of their customers, while service providers look to the buyer for the knowledge and direction to achieve better results. It’s a symbiotic relationship that requires extensive collaboration, effort and planning to reach mutually beneficial outcomes. In the end, the outsourcing partnerships that stick are the ones in which both parties are committed to achieving a value-driven service model beyond cost savings.
It’s a symbiotic relationship that requires extensive collaboration, effort and planning to reach mutually beneficial outcomes. In the end, the outsourcing partnerships that stick are the ones in which both parties are committed to achieving a value-driven service model beyond cost savings.
Publish Date: May 18, 2016 5:00 AM
In 2015, over 2.3 million jobs were outsourced. It’s an increasingly popular way to do business; by freeing up internal resources, costs are reduced and customers are afforded access to technology, tools and best practices that aren’t generally available internally.
Top providers in our industry have years of experience and are fast, agile and adaptable. But how do you know if outsourcing is the right solution for you? Or when it is the right solution?
Read on, dear friends. Read on.
SIX SCENARIOS WHEN OUTSOURCING MAKES SENSE
You want to retain customers.
Your current customers are happy, but your business is struggling to maintain – and improve – an already exceptional level of service.
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies build and develop multi-skilled agent profiles that allow you to continue offering superior customer care while exploring all-new service solutions – chat, video, etc. (often, platforms that have not yet been considered).
You want to acquire new customers.
Bringing in new business generates revenue, but you may need additional guidance in recruiting and retaining top sales agents who can bolster your bottom line.
While focusing on creating the best experiences for your end customer, BPO companies can provide resources that get the job done and drive exceptional business outcomes – as it turns out, we are experts at recruiting and retaining the right agent profile to meet your business needs. Keep in mind – companies that utilize strong omni-channel customer engagement strategies see, on average, a 9.5% increase in annual revenue. 1
Specialized training requires detailed education.
Certain products and services simply take more time to fully grasp. Training classes can be time-consuming and resource-draining, and often there’s just too much for one trainer to know – but additional coaching can’t be supported by your in-house team.
With a BPO company, you can employ a wide range of skills and services. We partner with our clients to fully develop training curriculums with a wide variety of courses, and hire dedicated recruiters and QA analysts to ensure goals are met.
Seasonal ramps are just that. Seasonal.
High-peak seasons mean all hands on deck. But you most likely don’t have hundreds of extra seats in your internal centers to handle the additional, often unpredictable, push.
BPO companies are there precisely when you need them. They can handle the size of the ramp effectively, providing you with options in multiple time zones, and facilitating brick-and-mortar, work-at-home and blended agent models to build tailored solutions. We excel at finding you tenured resources and complementary seasonal programs, so that you’re always staffed with the most qualified talent.
Rapid growth is not without its pitfalls.
As your company expands, you may find yourself needing fast – and thoughtful – solutions to fill resources and maintain customer service expectations. But when service is being backfilled by internal workers, your business simply loses the ability to train new people to plug the gaps and keep up with demand.
A BPO provider takes away the pressures of you having to supply all the answers, because of the flexibility built into the outsourcing model. BPOs give you instant access to scalability, letting you ramp up and down quickly and allowing you to return to focusing solely on the business, in-house processes or other ventures.
You don’t have all the tech you need.
It’s all about analytics and omni-channel solutions; if your in-house analytics are not customer-focused, you could receive unreliable data and metrics. And if your customer service is restricted to a single channel, you’re missing out on opportunities to enhance customer experience and loyalty.
BPOs have deep experience with analytics – going beyond the raw data and providing useful analysis that yields deeper partnerships and stronger metrics. And by being able to blend agents on multiple customer service channels – voice, email, chat, text, video and social media – customer loyalty to your brand can be enhanced for the long-term.
Your company is constantly trying to meld customer needs with your unique business culture and values. Outsourcing can help you establish a seamless, blended partnership that benefits both sides.
Reach out to us any time, and let’s talk about how Alorica can make a win-win situation happen for you.
Publish Date: May 11, 2016 5:00 AM
In today’s service industry–and Healthcare is no exception—consumers expect, even demand, transparency and simplicity. Patients want their experiences to match the service they get from other industries. In a 2012 survey on healthcare, “30% of respondents wanted their patient experience to be the same as any other customer experience they have—such as shopping, hotel and travel.”i There is also ample published material suggesting that improving patient experience directly impacts a company’s ability to retain and grow market share. Certainly, that provides some justification to invest in experience improvements, but those impacts can be difficult to quantify. A 2016 article from McKinsey indicates that many “experience improvement” initiatives fail simply because the owner of the program can’t prove the value of the improved experience to their business. The authors noted that “At a recent roundtable, fewer than half of the customer-experience leaders present could say what ten points of net promoter score would be worth to their businesses.”ii Perhaps the most compelling business reason to address your experience drainers is dollars and cents.
Improve Patient Experience, Reduce Costs
Often, the things that drive poor patient experience in Healthcare also drive costs for providers, payers, employers and patients. Eliminating noise and waste allows organizations to self-fund their improvement initiatives and increases the likelihood they will succeed. One of the best ways you can ensure a successful transformation initiative is to ensure you understand what impacts costs and experience in detail.
Many causes of costly contact volume, claims appeals and adjustments, complaint investigations and outstanding medical debts can be minimized through better education for patients and the people who serve them along their journey.
Education and Communication
When it comes to patient education and communication, simplicity really matters. Healthcare and insurance are complicated topics for the majority of U.S. consumers to grasp. In The Washington Post reported on a CDC study from 2007 that found 36% (more than 90 million) of U.S. adults had only basic or below basic skills for dealing with health material.iii Patients with that level of health literacy would only be able to understand discharge instructions written at a fifth grade level or lower. While there have been initiatives across the industry to simplify health communications since then, the number of insured patients has also grown significantly, introducing a base of customers into the system who are insured for the first time. A 2015 CDC survey indicated that for the first time in 50 years the number of uninsured dropped below 10%, which has flooded the entire system with new users.iv
Despite efforts to improve the clarity of information and meet expectations, a survey from 2013 indicated the industry still has a long way to go to get there. The survey revealed that two-thirds of consumers say it is important for insurers to provide clear and easy-to-understand information on their policies—yet only 27% say they were satisfied with their insurers’ efforts to do so.
Confusion Increases Contact
When patients have trouble understanding, or are misinformed about their care and coverage, they reach out for help—sometimes multiple times and to multiple places. Millions of administrative labor dollars are wasted each year by providers, payers, and benefits administrators alike, trying to rectify the confusion after the fact. Patients are often passed back and forth between these groups, increasing the effort they have to expend to get resolution and diminishing their opinion of the experience they have received. Often, nobody is happy in these scenarios, least of all the patient who is amassing medical bills, some of which may never get paid. Additionally, poorly informed patients are at greater risk for poor medication compliance, a problem that costs the U.S. economy an estimated $283B per year.vi
In our business, we see the downstream impacts of poor information sharing first hand. We handle thousands of contacts a year with patients, providers and insurance companies trying to navigate broken communication in a very complex system. Let’s look at a few examples from around the Healthcare industry of how education and communication impacts cost and experience in Healthcare.
Readmissions represent a huge challenge for the Healthcare industry. They are both dangerous and costly to patients, providers and insurance companies. Customers who misunderstand their discharge instructions are at greater risk for complications, poor outcomes and readmissions. A study conducted by the University of California’s School of Pharmacy showed that placing an outbound call to patients after receiving hospital care to ensure they understood important discharge instructions, helped proactively address problems or questions related to medications in 19% of patients. In addition, this helped uncover new medical problems or concerns that could be addressed by the medical team in 15% of patients. The group receiving calls had a 10% 30-day readmission rate compared to 24% with no phone calls, and reported higher patient satisfaction rates.vii In this case, a proactive approach was able to prevent further, more expensive touch points and interactions down the line, and provided better care outcomes for the patients involved.
- Claims Processing and Collection Multiplies Administrative Drag
Claims processing and revenue collection are a huge source of administrative costs in the Healthcare system. They are often emotionally charged scenarios and are highly likely to result in repeat contacts, escalations, complaints and appeals. An EGS review of contact patterns and satisfaction rates related to claims calls showed a claim unresolved after 85 days produces three times more contacts to the insurance company compared to claims closed in 28 days or less—and the more contacts involved to resolve it, the least likely it is to produce a satisfied customer. We also know that claims involving disputes and errors drive longer processing times and more contacts. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey on surprise medical costs found that “among insured, non-elderly adults struggling with medical bill problems, charges from out-of-network medical bills were a contributing factor one-third of the time. Further, nearly seven in 10 of individuals with unaffordable out-of-network medical bills did not know the healthcare provider was not in their plan’s network at the time they received care.”viii More often than not, these surprises are due to emergency care. This is just one of the ways communication can break down. There could be issues with the customer-facing tools to check in and out of network providers, but more often it is because the hospital where the patient was seen is in-network, but the doctor or radiologist or anesthesiologist is not. The average user, particularly if they are new to the system, does not understand nuances that impact their out-of-pocket costs. These are often gaps in pre-treatment communication and the legalese they receive at enrollment are seldom relevant to the patient until they start using them.
Simple Ways to Improve the Patient Experience
What do these examples tell us about how to attack the problem? What are your lines of defense against costly problems impacting your patients and your business?
- Know your drivers of volume and noise and what impact they have on your cost model
- Have a systematic process to collect, dissect and understand root causes of each driver so they can be addressed before they drive cost and experience
- Use clear, easy-to-access, easy-to-understand and multimodal communications to educate patients proactively about what impacts their care outcomes and costs
- Prepare anyone who interacts with your patients to explain and educate in clear, simple terms and with empathy and communication appropriate to the patient and the situation
Improving the lives of the patients we serve, and driving value back to your business and business partners should be reason enough to look at the experience you are providing today and determine if there are ways to improve upon it. And if it’s not, there are cold hard dollars on the table, too.
iWolters Kluwer Health. “Americans Want Greater Control Over Their Own Health Care.” Nov. 2012.
iiJoel Maynes and Alex Rawson. McKinsey. “Linking the customer experience to value.” March 2016.
iiiSandra G. Boodman. The Washington Post. “Many Americans have poor health literacy.” Feb. 28, 2011. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/28/AR2011022805957.html
ivCohen, Robin A., Ph.D., and Martinez, Michael E., M.P.H., M.H.S.A. “National Health Interview Survey Early Release Program.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Center for Health Statistics. Aug. 2015.
vThe Digital Insurer: Delivering Exceptional Customer Experiences.” Accenture. 2013
viSandra G. Boodman. The Washington Post. “Many Americans have poor health literacy.” Feb. 28, 2011. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/28/AR2011022805957.html
viiDudas V, Bookwalter T, Kerr KM, Pantilat SZ. “The impact of follow-up telephone calls to patients after hospitalization.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11790365
viiiPollitz, Karen. Kaiser Family Foundation. “Surprise Medical Bills.” March 17, 2016. http://kff.org/private-insurance/issue-brief/surprise-medical-bills/
Publish Date: April 12, 2016 5:00 AM
Quality Monitoring exists in almost every contact center. Done right, it can be a goldmine for feedback and coaching for front-line agents, and action-oriented data back to the business. An EGS eBook by Pam McGlone, “What the Bleep Should I Do with All this Data” addresses how companies can effectively use the data they gather.
But building a Quality Monitoring strategy that truly identifies opportunities to improve Customer Experience takes thoughtful design if an organization wants to operationalize a genuinely customer-centric strategy.
There are three critical considerations to include when implementing a Quality Monitoring process that can transform Customer Experience:
1. First up, deal with issues NOT actually resolved
The greatest indicator of overall customer satisfaction is issue resolution. So inversely, issues NOT being resolved are likely to cause the greatest negativity to Customer Experience.
In an EGS infographic by Mark Fortlage, “Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Customer Care – Are You Measuring the Right Things?” research indicates that the most important factor in customer satisfaction is resolution.
Always include the simple Yes/No question such as “Was the customer’s issue resolved?” on your monitoring form. Have your Quality team score this question from the customer’s perspective. If the answer is “No,” capture why there was no resolution, beginning with the simple designation of whether the issue was not resolved due to an “agent” (such as, the agent not using the correct resource) or “non-agent issue” (such as, there is a known product defect).
2. Replace weighted scoring with two simple measurement buckets: Customer-related and business-related
Traditional monitoring programs aim to give a single overall score indicating performance. Examples include:
- Points: “You achieved 90/95 points on this monitor”
- Percentages: “You achieved 95% on this monitor”
- Other symbols: “You achieved 4/5 stars on this monitor”
However, the weakness with this approach is that it attempts to boil monitoring performance down to one number, through weighting of different line items (e.g., from “Did the agent use the correct greeting?” to “Did the agent verify the customer’s identity before making account changes?”). This creates the potential of unclear or misguiding performance results since line items that may have an extreme impact on Customer Experience and those that have no impact on Customer Experience are forced together.
We solve this challenge by separating Quality Monitor form line items into two buckets: “Customer” and “Business.”
- Line items that show clear correlation to customer satisfaction and issue resolution are designated as “customer-related” line items
- Line items that do not directly impact the customer: case logging, verbatim reading of call closing script, etc. are designated as “business-related” line items
- Performance is reported by category, so upon initial glance at performance data you can compare your Quality Monitoring “customer-related accuracy” and “business-related accuracy.” You are quickly able to gauge your program’s ability to deliver a positive Customer Experience
3. Keep it fresh
Quality Monitoring programs can get stale quickly, so keeping pace with the changing needs of your customers is critical to staying relevant.
- A great way to ensure the short-term success and long-term failure of your Quality Monitoring program is to build it based on your current data, but fail to frequently update the process based on new information
- Certain line items may make sense for your current business and customer base, but as customer-facing challenges are faced and resolved, new issues may arise. It’s important to always stay on top of any changes in your customers’ expectations
And for extra credit, a couple other things to think about:
- Shorter is better: Create line items that truly impact the customer or business. Using a form that is long and composed of many non-critical line items will negatively impact both Quality team efficiency and morale.
Read other EGS Insights to learn how to enhance your business processes and improve Customer Experience.
Publish Date: February 15, 2016 5:00 AM
In the customer contact business, we onboard a lot of people, all of the time. Your onboarding process should be a well-oiled, well-designed, well-executed, value-add machine. Is it?
For too many companies, the onboarding process begins with new hire orientation, and ends there as well. The new agent is thrown into the training process and onto the production floor with no continuity, and no sense that they are cared for by the organization or their direct leaders. So they do not care in return, which leads to poor performance and high levels of attrition.
Strategic Onboarding is the process of integrating new employees into the organization, preparing them to succeed at their job, and to become fully engaged, high-performing members of the organization. A great overview on Why Onboarding Matters was published by Eric Berg.
It is emphatically not new hire orientation. Some of the most common mistakes made during onboarding include:
- Big bang, one-day event: Onboarding needs to involve frequent touchpoints and a series of milestones.
- One-size-fits-all for learning: The onboarding process needs to prepare new employees through individual and targeted training that accommodates learning and integration at a different pace.
- Onboarding devoid of cultural assimilation: Onboarding needs to include opportunities to engage, socialize and understand the culture, and embrace the core values of an organization. This is one of the most important factors in why employees stay with a company.
- Forgetting to assess success with key metrics: Onboarding needs to be measured in terms of time-to-proficiency and impact on retention. If you are not measuring it, you’re not managing it.
Strategic onboarding works when it significantly reduces the new employee’s “Denial to Acceptance” curve, and accelerates integration of the employee into the organization. The new agent moves quickly from nervousness and lack of confidence on day one to being an independently productive agent, typically in less than the standard 90-day expected time frame.
What steps are involved in a Strategic Onboarding process? Typically it can be thought of as three phases: Align, Integrate and Accelerate.
- Align ensures that the agent is clear on what to expect, on day one and going forward. Surprises breed lack of confidence, so minimize them.
- Integrate focuses on training and immersion into the culture of the company and the program. This is the critical step of making the agent feel at home, feel wanted, and feel that they want to be there.
- Finally, Accelerate keeps the agent engaged with their own future through ongoing direction, support, and development activities. Achieving buy-in on a reasonable, achievable image of the future makes the success of the agent and the success of the program the same, and combines the power of “me” and the power of “we.” Each of these steps must be specifically broken down and supported, with precise 30-60-90-day touch points, strong 360 coaching, and career pathing from day one.
The effort involved to get a Strategic Onboarding program in place at your organization should pay off substantially. Agents will come up to speed sooner, re-training and attrition in training will be minimized, and overall retention will go up. Like any machine, it takes good design and care in operation, but Strategic Onboarding can add power to your contact center and drive measurable results.
Publish Date: February 5, 2016 5:00 AM
Part of our team headed to San Diego last week to accept the 2015 North American Frost & Sullivan Award for Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership. They were joined by leading innovators and entrepreneurs across multiple industries including healthcare, technology and communications. From cancer beating research firms to social pioneers, we were in best-of-class company.
Frost & Sullivan chose to recognize Alorica with this award thanks to the growth we experienced last year, our brand positioning, and our competitiveness and visibility in the outsourcing market. Analyst Michael DeSalles recognized our analytics capabilities, innovation and AloriCares as three areas that make Alorica a leader.
The black-tie Gala was held at the beautiful San Diego Hilton Resort & Spa. Jim Radzicki, Christy O’Connor, Mark Cunningham and Laura Wakeman accepted the award on our behalf. Jim even took home the most coveted award of the night…best dressed!
Publish Date: January 20, 2016 5:00 AM
While it’s important to deliver consistent client service on a regular basis, it can be difficult to do so without the proper technological infrastructure. As consumer demands continue to shift, customer care solutions teams are beginning to further rely on new and advanced technical support processes to better meet their patrons’ needs. While these technologies create a faster, more flexible staff member, they also require special attention in some instances, since a breakdown can disrupt the entire infrastructure.
IT teams can be deployed to fix any internal hiccups in a customer relationship management technology system, but in terms of systematic processes, finding the root cause to an issue is a different ball game. If a client support team can effectively troubleshoot its problems, they’re more likely to improve upon their consumer satisfaction, among other things. With that in mind, here are four tips for customer service representatives to keep in mind when attempting to troubleshoot a systematic issue:
- Don’t jump to conclusions: Assuming typically doesn’t get anyone very far, so best practice – especially in the customer service industry – is to evaluate the situation from a big picture viewpoint. It can be tempting for a seasoned client representative to jump to a conclusion about something when a customer contacts a business’s service center, especially if the rep at hand has dealt with a similar situation before. However, the idea of effective troubleshooting is to find the root cause of the problem and then begin addressing the issue from that point on.
- Remain attentive throughout the entire process: The parlance of a BPO technical support representative will likely differ from that of an everyday customer calling in with a question or concern. That being said, it’s important for staff members to remain vigilant on the back end so that nothing falls through the cracks. The manner in which a client describes something may make sense to him or her, but it very well could be the wrong way to describe something from a business standpoint. Alternatively, a technical support team also needs to play the role of translator when speaking with a patron, otherwise the internal vernacular may confuse the customer at hand.
- Manage issues in order of their importance: In a perfect world, nothing would ever go wrong with a customer service team’s IT infrastructure, therefore eliminating any issues that stem from said hiccups. However, since the human element is a constant in the client services equation, there are bound to be mistakes in the process. As a result, management needs to teach its team how to prioritize effectively, or else the most important issues won’t get taken care of first. Client work not getting done has more widespread implications than internal issues, so a rep should be aware of that very fact, according to Inc. Magazine.
- Cover all bases before taking action: This can be particularly tricky because the modern day consumer wishes to have his or her problem addressed in an immediate fashion, so it’s hard not to understand why a call center service would want to be as quick as possible in getting back to the patron. Yet, it’s important that reps evaluate the situation from a macro level. An effective troubleshooting process starts with the identification of all the concerns at hand and then logically working through them all. It can be a longer process, but it will teach reps to double-check, cross reference and test things before the problem is addressed.
Publish Date: December 3, 2015 5:00 AM
Customer satisfaction with the cable TV industry has reached its lowest point in the last seven years, according to data from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Yet, while cable TV’s rates continue to plummet, the cord-cutting alternatives ratings continue to climb.
In fact, many of these companies have customer satisfaction ratings cable companies can only dream about achieving—with Netflix and another popular online retailer and media provider ranking in the 80th percentile, according to the ACSI. And while performance numbers for Hulu were not available, its recent announcement of a 50% growth in subscribers since 2014 also hints that they must be doing something right.
Comparison numbers were also not available for Google Fiber, perhaps the most disruptive mover in the Cable/ISP space, but Google has been very successful at marketing its focus on delivering a differentiated customer experience. Alana Karen, Google Fiber’s Director of Service Delivery, intentionally uses Google Fiber’s blog to communicate its plan for Google Fiber’s customer service as well as provide updates and examples of positive interactions between Google employees and the customer service team.
So what are the cord-cutting alternatives doing differently than cable?
What You Say and How You Say It Matters
It is interesting to juxtapose the content found on a traditional cable provider’s website with content on the sites of its competitors, like Netflix and Google Fiber. Everything, from the look and feel of the site to the tone or type of content posted, is quite different between a traditional cable company and its new competitors.
For example, Comcast’s customer facing blog, “Comcast Voices,” focuses heavily on large projects, technical developments, and new product features. These posts are very polished, informative, and formal in tone. They have less to do with customer-centric content and more to do with showcasing Comcast’s achievements.
In contrast, the content posted on Netflix’s blog and Google Fiber’s blog is more casual in nature. The messages are also more customer-centric. For example, Netflix posts monthly rankings of Netflix connection speed by ISP. Google Fiber’s recent blog post includes sample tweets from customers who had positive customer service experiences, and an infographic related to customer service delivery.
These pronounced differences are expected. Traditional cable companies’ histories stretch back to a time when there truly was no competition—their customers had no other alternative. Netflix and Google, on the other hand, emerged in a highly competitive environment. Competition with the “big boys,” such as cable companies, and for Netflix, even big box stores like Blockbuster, was mandatory for success. To win those customers away, Netflix, Google, and other cable alternatives have focused on the customer experience.
How Consumer Choice Reflects on the Customer Experience
Cable companies have one trait that other content distributors don’t—a lack of competition for traditional cable services. While customers have limited, or no choice in whom their cable provider is, they do have many options for cord-cutting services. A customer signing up for Netflix or Hulu is exercising a clear choice to move away from, or supplement, their cable subscription with another service.
And having a choice matters. In a case where a consumer has selected one service over another (for example, selecting Hulu Plus instead of Netflix), they develop a cognitive bias known as a choice-supportive bias. This bias creates the tendency for consumers to ascribe positive attributes to the option they selected and downplay any faults with the alternative selection.
What can cable companies, or other limited-choice markets, learn from cord-cutting alternatives?
Customers are biased to feel positive about the choices they make, and when those choices align with a specific company, the customer will also feel more positive about the associated company. To replicate an environment where this kind of choice-supportive bias can improve customer perception of a company’s product and services, cable companies and others in limited-choice markets should:
- Create more options and choices for customers.
- Offer a wide variety of attractive plans with clear, differentiated benefits.
- Understand each of your key customer segments and design, at least, two packages for each.
Customers will weigh the options against their lifestyle and preferences and feel satisfied that they had a choice. These choices, and the positive association that comes with them, will then create higher overall customer satisfaction and an improved customer experience.
In addition, companies can use blogs and social media to speak to customers in familiar ways. For example:
- Use real life examples, positive tweets, and infographics to explain benefits to customers.
- Review the lifestyle blogs and websites that appeal to your customers most and communicate to your customers in a similar style and tone.
By implementing these changes—offering more customer-centric content and providing more choices—cable companies and other companies that operate in a limited-choice market, can improve customers’ overall experience and satisfaction.
To learn more about how you can elevate your customer’s experience, contact EGS today.
Publish Date: December 1, 2015 5:00 AM
Consumer’s expectations for a better customer experience are rising. Research shows that 86% of people will stop doing business with a company because of a negative service experience—with 51% of consumers giving companies only one chance. To differentiate from competitors and provide exceptional customer service, businesses need to elevate the customer experience. But to do so requires insight into which processes are working and which are not.
Data can provide these types of insights and drive positive transformation. The challenge, however, is not just in collecting the right type of data, but knowing how to pull insight from it. What data points are important? Which are not?
Determining the Type of Data You Need and Where to Find It
Contact centers, where agents interact directly with customers, provide a gold mine of customer intelligence. Each interaction is an opportunity to learn more about consumers in order to improve the customer experience. Typically there are three types of data you will want to collect:
- Volume Data – Contact events are signs that something isn’t easy for customers to solve on their own. Knowing why customers contact you, by what channels, and with what frequency is key to understanding what they are trying to accomplish and where it is difficult. Look at average handle times, rates of repeat contacts, escalations, and transfers to determine where there are breakdowns in the contact experience that may be negatively impacting your customers and your business.
- Behavioral and Emotional Data – This type of data measures how your agents handle each customer and how customers respond to the interaction. The data collected should include attributes such as communication and interaction skills, compliance, and product and procedural knowledge.
- Outcome Data – It’s important to be able to predict and replicate success. Outcome data tells you how frequently you are successful in meeting your business objectives once the interaction is over. For example, completing a sale, avoiding a cancel, or gaining a high customer satisfaction rating are all positive outcomes you want to replicate.
It is also critical that your data captures interactions that occur across all channels so you can connect the pieces of the journey and understand which events trigger or prevent others.
Finding Insights within the Data
Now that you have collected a substantial amount of data, how can you use it to find insights into the customer experience? A recent Harvard Business Review article highlighted seven categories of insight to look for when seeking transformation. Here’s a look at those categories translated into the context of customer experience analytics:
- Anomalies – Look at places where the result deviates from the norm. These statistical anomalies can identify areas of potential breakage in the customer experience.
- Confluence – Identify where trends, such as economic and social (e.g., consumer spending habits and mobility trends), intersect with each other. The confluence of these trends can reveal new insights or opportunities.
- Frustrations – Processes that result in poor outcomes, higher escalation rates, or frequent complaints from frontline employees can pinpoint areas where resolution may be cumbersome or ineffective.
- Orthodoxies – Question any beliefs or assumptions that are not supported by correlative data. “How it has always been done” is not always the most effective way.
- Extremities – Look at your outliers. Observing contacts with strongly positive outcome data compared with those in similar situations with strongly negative outcome data can help you determine what differentiates a poor outcome from a positive one.
- Voyages – Allow the data to build a history or timeline that you can replicate and immerse yourself in. From it you can glean contextual insights that help you understand which sequences of events culminate in positive or negative outcomes.
- Analogies – What you borrow or learn from the patterns and benchmarks of your competitors and other companies can enlighten your own business processes.
The discoveries you make from your data can inform how you coach and develop your employees, how you program your interactive voice response, what tools you use, and how you evaluate and reward your employees and customers.
Applying Insights to Drive Transformation
To effectively apply the insights gleaned from the data to create transformation, you must make it digestible to those who have the ability to make change or alter course based on the findings. This effort requires collaboration and coordination across departments. It should make the translation from “What does it say?” to “What does it mean?” so the cross-functional team can determine what to do about it.
When presented in these terms, the insights allow customer experience executives to not only clearly define what is going wrong (or right), but also to quantify the costs of problems—and any required remediation. Thus, business decisions become easier to make and to justify, and thereby speed up the transformation process and allow your business to remain competitive.
For more information on how to use data to drive transformation, download the eBook now.
Publish Date: November 28, 2015 5:00 AM
Thinking of Outsourcing Your First Party Collections? 4 Things to Consider
First party collections, also called financial care, represents as much as 30% of the total revenue in the accounts receivable management industry. Many companies outsource their collections work to save money, increase revenue and improve their focus on core competencies.
But, finding the right outsourcing partner can be the difference between a successful financial care program that helps meet your business objectives while providing a positive customer experience, and a program that can potentially damage your brand reputation.
Before your company decides to outsource first party collections, here are four things to think about:
1.Where will this work be performed?
Different industries, types of debt and customer bases may be better served by placing the financial care work in a single location. Others may be better suited to leveraging several different global regions. As part of the discovery process, determine whether your potential partner can meet your needs by asking:
- Do your accounts need to be serviced domestically, or can they be placed offshore?
- Do your partner’s offshore locations have a history of ongoing success?
- Could a champion/challenger program benefit your organization?
- How will your partner ensure your customers’ experience will be seamless, regardless of where the financial care work is performed?
A positive customer experience throughout the collection process is important for both your brand reputation and for collection success. Think carefully about the type of interactions your potential partner will have with your customers and what channels they will use to communicate—one country may be optimal for voice support, while other locations may be strong choices for non-voice work.
2. Will you be supported by a strong and secure technology infrastructure?
Financial care outsourcing, by its nature, deals with large quantities of sensitive personal and financial data. Any outsourcing partner you consider should have a technology infrastructure focused on storing and processing the requisite transactions quickly and efficiently, regardless of location, as well as the capability to vigorously safeguard your customers’ payment and non-payment data.
Ensuring that your outsourcing partner is PCI compliant is also critical—specifically, that they are certified as PCI compliant by a third party Qualified Security Assessor (QSA). Card companies, such as MasterCard, require service providers be QSA compliant; a non QSA-certified vendor may be limited in how they can collect on your debt and how well they can protect your data.
Other technology and security considerations include the outsourcing partners use of proven proprietary technologies, their ability to use technology to turn data into actionable insights, and their ability to use client host systems, managed systems or a blend of client and managed systems. These types of technology advances will help drive operational efficiency and drive process improvements for a better overall customer experience.
3. Does your prospective partner have robust compliance capabilities?
Accounts receivable management is a highly regulated industry. Third party collections are subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), administered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). While not currently the case, it is possible, based on recent CFPB enforcement actions, that original creditors and first party outsourcers may also be brought under the umbrella of the CFPB and FDCPA sometime in the future.
Any partner you consider should be knowledgeable of and prepared for these potential changes. Ideally, their financial care program would already comply with many or all of the anticipated future regulations.
4. Is there a demonstrated history of expertise and success?
First party collections are a unique outsourcing function. Since the collections are done in the name of your business, it’s vital your customers enjoy the same exceptional experience they would expect from you. This means that throughout the entire collection process, customers should never realize they are talking to a different company.
Ask potential partners what their expertise is in customer experience transformation and what procedures they have in place to identify and implement process improvements that benefit both the customer and your business objectives.
Entrusting an outsourcing partner to interact with your customers should not be taken lightly. You’re putting your business and your brand in the hands of another company. Consequently, you need to feel confident your outsourcing partner is positioned to provide the expertise necessary to help you improve collections while safeguarding your brand. Any partner you choose should have readily accessible references that can vouch for their claims of success.
Choosing to outsource first party collections is an important decision, and one that requires careful consideration. When done correctly, outsourced financial care programs can help grow revenue while retaining customers who might otherwise be lost during delinquency.
To learn more about how EGS approaches first party outsourcing, visit our financial care page.
Publish Date: October 15, 2015 5:00 AM
Debt collection is a tough business. And as most first party collectors know, a successful outcome is not a guarantee. However, an effective first party collection, or financial care, program can reduce losses, increase revenue, and retain customers.
What does an effective financial care program look like?
An effective program focuses on combining customer-centric principles with traditional first party collection efforts. Known as financial care, this approach incorporates the importance of delivering a positive experience throughout the customer journey.
As part of a financial care approach, omnichannel contact solutions provide consumers with a quality, seamless experience regardless of what contact channel they use—phone, web portal, chat, or mobile. Because omnichannel solutions improve the customer experience, many companies are now leveraging them to deliver strong financial care performance.
Here’s a closer look at how omnichannel contact solutions can improve collection results:
Break down barriers
According to a white paper by Certona entitled, “Discover the Power of Omnichannel Personalization,” more than 60% of American consumers who like to interact with brands do so through multiple channels. In fact, 48% of repeat customers and 33% of new customers hit multiple touchpoints before purchase.
Similarly, an omnichannel contact solution for debt collection can help break down barriers between the customer and the brand. Omnichannel not only makes interactions easier, but preserves (or even builds) the consumer’s relationship with the brand. This can have positive results both during collection interactions and later, as a returning customer.
In a study by Retail Systems Research, 47% of retailers said multi-channel (or omnichannel) customers were more profitable than single channel customers, a figure that has increased for several years. And this data is backed up by information compiled by Certona that found that omnichannel shoppers spend 20% more than multi-channel shoppers—who spend 15-30% more than single-channel shoppers. The net result is that omnichannel shoppers can spend up to as much as 50% more than single channel shoppers.
The ability to interact with consumers in their preferred manner helps spur action, whether it is for shopping or debt collection. Additionally, omnichannel lets you leverage more cost-effective channels, like text messaging (also known as SMS) as opposed to traditional voice support, while still providing an exceptional customer experience.
Drive positive customer experiences
In a 2011 Customer Impact Report, 89% of customers said they began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer service experience. Debt collection, particularly first party, is not only about collecting the debt, but about retaining the customer in the future. And to do this successfully, customer interactions must remain positive.
In today’s digital world, a significant part of an excellent customer experience is access to real-time communication and interactivity. This means collection efforts must go beyond traditional contact methods such as phone, email, and mail.
An omnichannel approach not only offers consumers the ability to communicate according to their preferred method, but through features like web chat, can provide real-time interactivity. This kind of interactivity can reduce repeat cross-channel contacts and lead to a more positive customer experience. In fact, according to eDigital Research, chat has the highest rating (73%) among all service channels.
A financial care approach, which blends first party collections and customer care, is the best path to providing a positive customer experience while increasing collections recoveries. Using omnichannel solutions as part of a financial care program can help improve outcomes and should be leveraged as a key strategy for first party debt collection efforts.
To learn more about how EGS approaches first party outsourcing, visit our financial care page.
Publish Date: October 14, 2015 5:00 AM
Outsourcing is a common business practice to lower costs, increase efficiency, and improve operations—and it’s on the rise in utility companies. In one survey, more than 70 percent of utilities said they currently outsource or plan to outsource a customer care function.
As consumers are increasingly able to choose their energy suppliers, utilities must find ways to differentiate themselves and gain a competitive advantage. These advantages will likely come from the ability to provide customers with access to more technology and a better customer experience.
Outsourcing in the utilities industry has a strong focus on information sharing and enabling technologies. Enhanced self-service options, the demand for digital communication, mobile-first consumer options, social media engagement, and support are all areas that utility companies may look to outsource as a way to enhance the customer experience and provide more access to technology.
But that’s only part of the picture. When selecting the right outsourcing partner for your utility company, keep these 4 tips in mind:
Tip 1: Determine Technology Capabilities
In a rapidly digitized world, companies need to deliver customer information and communications across a variety of channels. Yet, this is an area where many utility companies struggle—a recent survey showed that 41 percent of survey respondents said their digital experience with their energy provider was fraught with more difficulty than their dealings with other types of providers.
To meet consumer demands for more digital interactions, make sure your outsourcing partner has made the necessary investments in technologies and infrastructure to be ready for the long-term demands of a fully digital world. They should have the capability to pull together information from multiple client systems, to offer robust omnichannel communication options, and to leverage analytics to identify opportunities for improvements in the customer lifecycle.
Tip 2: Keep Security Front of Mind
Increases in digital engagement require enhancements to security policies and capabilities. Not only should your outsourcing partner be PCI compliant, but those that are certified by a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) rather than self-assessed are likely to have better security processes and infrastructure to keep your company’s data secure. As part of the intake process, verify that your outsourcing partner is both PCI compliant and QSA certified.
Additionally, remember that credit card information isn’t the only thing you need to protect. Non-payment data comprised 45 percent of data thefts in 2013. In a regulated environment like utilities, consumers expect all their data—address, phone, account number, social security number, and more—to be as secure as their payment information. A data breach of any kind can harm your brand and drive customers away. Understand what capabilities your partner has to safeguard data throughout the customer journey, not just during payment processes.
Tip 3: Focus on an Exceptional Customer Experience
You can’t control the weather that causes a downed power line, but you can control the experience your customers have when they interact with you. Be sure that your outsourcing provider can offer the same quality experience that your customers expect from you.
A good outsourcing partner can go even further than positively interacting with your company and your customers—they can help you build your brand. Ask what processes they utilize to capitalize on technology solutions and to drive brand preference. If this isn’t something they “do,” keep looking. Customer interactions and brand development go hand-in-hand. The right outsourcing partner should be prepared to not just provide customer service, but to help move your brand forward.
Tip 4: Maintain End-to-End Servicing
Customer interactions rarely happen in a vacuum. From signing up new users to payment processing and account resolution, it’s important that your outsourcing partner has the ability to provide a full suite of services to your customers.
Part of providing end-to-end servicing includes the ability to proactively solve problems. Find out whether your outsourcing partner empowers agents to solve customer problems across their entire journey, or if they operate in silos—shuffling the customer from one agent to the next. Additionally, understand what type of communication there is between the front line and back office functions. Good communications between these two teams will help increase efficiency and improve outcomes.
The decision to engage in outsourcing is one that affects your brand as much as it does your business processes. Your outsourcing partner should work as an extension of your company—interacting with customers as you would and working with you as a true partner to help you succeed.
Publish Date: October 13, 2015 5:00 AM
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