4 Things Utilities Should Know Before Choosing an Outsourcing Partner - Alorica - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog
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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