Mindpearl - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog
I read an infographic the other day, called ‘The bottom line cost of bad customer service’, which inspired this article. I would highly recommend reading the infographic for yourself, but let me share some of the most shocking highlights with you:
Expectations are higher than ever:
- 60% of customers have a higher expectation for customer service now than they did just 1 year ago
Unhappy customers are quick to leave:
- 51% of customers said they would only try to reach support once
- 78% have abandoned a transaction, because of poor experience
- 89% have stopped doing business because of poor experience
- 44% have switched to a competitor because of a poor experience
- Customers are 4 times more likely to buy from a competitor if there is a problem with service
Top reasons why customers switch to a competitor:
- 53% feel unappreciated
- 42% leave, because of rude staff
- 29% leave due to poorly trained staff
- 25% leave, because they have been kept on hold
Once a customer leaves, they rarely come back:
- 39% of customers avoid vendors for 2+ years after a bad experience
- 58% will never use the company again
High-value customers are usually the first to go:
- 51% B2B clients
- 54% Gen Xers
- 79% high-income customers
It is 6 to 7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one:
- $338.5 billion is lost globally due to poor customer service
With this as our point of departure, I would like to delve into what this means for retailers and how to address these issues.
Retailers are more focused on ‘brick and mortar’ vs. contact centres or online. Consequently, retailers perceive contact centres as an expense, so they do it as cheap as possible. When we look at today’s stats the switching cost is just too high for retailers who follow this ‘cheap’ operating model,– they just will not survive.
When I think of the ‘cheap’ operating model, I think of low-cost offshore locations, where there is a complete disconnect with the consumer. This disconnect can seriously harm your business. It is so important to make call centre staff part of your culture. Offshoring can be successful in achieving your customer service goals and save costs, but you need to have the right training, technology and offshore location in place to make this happen.
Let us take a closer look at these success factors.
When it comes to training, this is not the time to cut costs. Call centre staff need to be 100% aligned to your core brand values – even in the way they answer the phone or end a call. Your outsourcing provider should know this. A provider that takes customer experience seriously will demonstrate their training capabilities with soft skill programmes that compliment your technical training. Your involvement in the training process is also crucial in preventing any disconnect that could harm your business. Offshoring is a cost cutting strategy and always will be, but training is not the way to do it.
When we look at the challenges retailers face today, we see on-going disruption from the next wave of digital technologies. In an industry with rising cost pressures such as staff costs, fuel prices and commodity prices to name a few, retailers need to prioritise investment in technologies. Many retailers use offshoring to accelerate their efforts in the technology space. The strategy is sound because it allows retailers to remain competitive without major upfront investment. Offshoring, however, does not have to equate to bad customer service. There are cost effective locations and providers that can support your needs, without compromising on your brand integrity. That is where the next success factor, namely the right offshore location, comes in.
Since outsourcing first became popular, locations such as the Philippines and India have dominated the market with promises of low rates and reduced operational costs. However, there is no denying the negative publicity that plagues these low-cost offshoring locations when it comes to customer disconnect. When retailers tend to focus on a ‘cheap operating model’ for their call centre as their sole motivation when it comes to offshoring, it could lead to problems down the road. When we look at the cost of bad customer service, it is clear retailers should consider customer experience as well as price. The fact is there are alternative low-cost offshoring locations that offer specific quantitative and qualitative necessities. From this balanced perspective, offshoring can be lucrative. It can ensure long-term success and achieve short-term cost saving objectives.
I believe customer experience is one of the main battlegrounds for retailers this year and for many years to come. The challenge is to develop a retail service model that treats each customer as an individual, which maintains satisfaction and loyalty levels. Many retailers are doing this well in store, but this retail service model needs to extend and encompass the whole customer experience including online and call centres. In these tough times, customers are more and more likely to reject bad service when a competitor can offer the same products and price without the hassle. In my opinion, retailers can no longer view customer service as an option. The time to act is now.
If you found this article interesting, you might be interested in what one of our customers has to say or experience a virtual tour of one of our centres.
Mindpearl Fiji Virtual Tour
A pioneering move by William Pattison, our CEO, saw one of the first international outsourced call centres in Suva, Fiji Islands open in 2009. This BPO location offers a high quality and cost efficient English language alternative to offshore locations such as India and the Philippines. Fiji also boasts a rich expat community, which adds to its value proposition as Fijian, Hindi, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, German, Swiss German, Portuguese and Tamil to name a few, are offered in Fiji. Today, Mindpearl Suva houses 14 International clients across numerous industry verticals. Fiji also won the Offshoring Destination of the Year 2014 by the European Outsourcing Association (EOA) and has been a finalist in both the EOA and NOA UK awards in 2015 and 2016. Click here to experience Mindpearl Fiji for yourself.
Mindpearl South Africa Virtual Tour
Cape Town has a skilled workforce with excellent language skills. Cape Town offers Mindpearl access to English speakers and a broad range of European language resources. Cape Town is a modern city with an advanced technology and telephony infrastructure that is robust and resilient. South Africa has won both the National and European Outsourcing Association Offshoring Destination of the Year awards for 2012 and 2013 respectively. South Africa also won the National Outsourcing Association Offshoring Destination of the Year award in 2016. Click here to experience Mindpearl South Africa for yourself.
Mindpearl and Harmoney - An Outsourcing Success Story
Thinking of outsourcing? Mindpearl is the simple choice for all your outsourcing needs, but don’t take our word for it. Click here to hear what our clients have to say. Brad Hagstom, joint CEO of peer-to-peer lending platform Harmoney delivers a keynote on the reasons he decided to offshore to Mindpearl Fiji.
Publish Date: March 31, 2017 5:00 AM
In the beginning of this year, the Dimension Data’s 2016 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report revealed four trends that would shape the contact centre industry for the next five years, namely:
- Customer analytics
- Integrated customer journeys
- Digital capabilities
- Personalised service offerings
I thought it would be useful to review these trends based on our experience with our clients in the past year and reflect on whether we can see these trends manifesting in our own contact centres.
This report indicated that contact centres are adopting personalisation techniques based on analytics. This finding forms part of an imminent service revolution that will transform customer experience (CX) and service delivery. We have certainly seen an increase in the use of intelligent analytics across accounts in the past year. Clients are also relying more on their outsourcing partner to assist with this function and provide recommendations on personalisation techniques.
Integrated customer journeys
One of the predominant themes in this year’s report is CX. The report contained some compelling statistics pertaining to CX. I have included a few of my favourites below:
- CX is a stated differentiator for 82.5% of businesses (A rise of 30.3% since 2012)
- 77.5% of boardrooms recognise CX as their most important strategic performance measure (Focus on costs drops to the sixth position as organisations buy-in to the benefits of CX)
- 77.0% of businesses can evidence cost saving benefits via improved CX
- 74.1% of businesses say it increases company profits/revenues
- 75.6% of businesses say it promotes employee engagement
Streamlining and integrating the user experience via connected omnichannel strategies is paramount in managing and improving CX. We need to be able to provide the consumer with a choice of channels to use in any sequence they desire to complete their service needs, with seamless integration between channels, 24/7 access and better turnaround times. Analytics is helping organisations understand the customer journey better, but we believe the contact centre industry has a long way to go in terms of integration. The good news is more organisations are starting to prioritise this as a CX strategy.
The report indicated that digital volumes handled by contact centres remain on track to exceed phone contacts by the end of 2016. We can certainly confirm that we have seen a significant increase in digital volumes this year; however, at this stage, it has not exceeded phone contacts within our organisation. Nevertheless, there is no disputing the fact that digital technology is transforming the contact centre industry.
What we found interesting is that this year the report highlighted that digital channels could be more powerful if shown more of a ‘human touch’, better design and closer management. This has definitely been true in our experience. We had far better results with clients that implemented digital channels with dedicated specialist teams, opposed to integrating digital channels into the general agent’s function.
With CX dominating the service industry, we believe more organisations will mature their approach towards how they implement and manage digital channels and see the value in dedicated digital teams. We also believe the ‘human touch’ is an important consideration when it comes to digital capabilities and it starts with hiring the correct agent profile with a specific skill set for one. I could go on and on about this subject, but this will need to wait for a future article dedicated to this subject.
Personalised service offerings
The report indicated that personalised service offerings are rising fast. The two most common being channel paths offered and menu option selections – for example, interactive voice response (IVR) – has risen by 47.5%. We can definitely agree with this assessment. In the last year, we have seen personalised service offering rise across all channels. These include prioritising specific service channels, prioritising specific events and prioritising high-value customer groups. We predict this trend will amplify in the year to come, as more businesses seek tangible results from their CX strategies.
The beginning of a service revolution
We can safely conclude based on our experience that customer analytics, integrated customer journeys, digital capabilities and personalised service offerings have had an impact on this year in review.
Although we have seen huge inroads in the adoption and use of customer analytics, integration has a way to go.
Digital capabilities have increased in volume, but at this stage, it has not exceeded phone contacts within our organisation.
‘Human touch’, better design and closer management have definitely improved our results with digital channels. This indicates that the report was correct in stating that these factors can make digital channels more powerful.
Lastly, we have definitely seen a rise in personalised service offerings and we believe this will only increase.
With CX becoming the top goal for organisations strategically, the report predicts the beginning of a service revolution in the contact centre industry. We agree with this assessment. We also predict that more businesses will turn to their outsourcing partner for support and direction in these changing times.
2016 has certainly been an interesting year for the contact centre industry.
I believe there is one question we should all be asking ourselves as we plan for the new year: ‘What are you doing in 2017 to get out in front of these trends and address them head on?’
Publish Date: November 28, 2016 5:00 AM
Whitepaper – Malaysia: Contact Centre Offshoring Synergy. Bridging the gap between service delivery and customer expectations
The customer service industry is one of the oldest and most established industries worldwide. It is also one of the industries that have continually evolved over time; as technology improved, as customer expectations transformed and as competition increased. Operating in the customer services industry is, therefore, a craft that requires exceptional dedication, continuous development and a precise skill set combination.
Being a committed contact centre solution provider, Mindpearl has played an active role in the customer service industry for the past 17 years. During this tenure the industry landscape has progressed, customer needs have diversified and Mindpearl has seamlessly evolved and diversified alongside them, whilst achieving several industry firsts such as establishing the first international outsource contact centre in South Africa in 2001 and Fiji in 2009.
Mindpearl embodies its ‘our people your brand’ ethos by customising service solutions to meet each client’s individual needs. As we expand into Southeast Asia we look forward to evolving alongside Kuala Lumpur, contributing to the country achieving its 2020 socio-economic objectives and customising our service solutions for the ASEAN.
Food for thought:
“Customers may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
Intrigued? Want to find out more? This whitepaper delves into Malaysia as an Offshoring Destination of Choice for companies like Mindpearl who want to bridge the gap between service delivery and customer expectations.
Email us at email@example.com to get your free copy.
Publish Date: November 21, 2016 5:00 AM
With Mindpearl recently winning the global contact centre outsourcing contract for Malaysia Airlines, I found myself relocating to Malaysia to manage this account from our newest centre, in Kuala Lumpur. Given Malaysia Airlines’ brand presence and prominence in global aviation, Mindpearl’s airline expertise and track record have naturally, been front of mind for me.
So what pearls of wisdom can I share with you about the modern airline customer and the customer service experience you should create for this customer? Well, it is very simple really. The airline industry and airline customers have changed drastically over the last decade. Today’s customer is global, social, tech-savvy and most of all, connected all the time. What they want and need is convenience, competence, personalisation and proactive value adds. What do I mean by this? Well, let me elaborate.
Convenience is key
- You need to make it easy for customers to connect with you when and how they want
- You need to give this customer 24/7 access
- You need to give them multiple channels: voice, email, Web, chat, SMS, social networks – the works
Competence and Consistence are crucial
- You need to make sure, it is easy for them to access all information – so focus on a user-friendly website
- Ensure you send this customer to the right agent the first time
- Consistency is so important, you need to deliver a consistent experience across all channels
Create personalised experiences
- You need to know who your customers are
- Once you know your customer, you need to use this information to understand customer needs and cater for these needs via preferred channels
- This is not rocket science, use the information you already have about them to gain customer insights and act on it
- Do not wait for your customer to call you, be proactive. Inform customers about things that are relevant to them before they have to ask
- Do not bombard your customer with every promotion you have going on, rather offer your customer products and services relevant to their needs
- Your customer is looking for proactive value-add, so add-value proactively and predictably. Offer relevant auxiliary services with every interaction
We are extremely proud of our in-depth understanding of the airline sector and best in class service we provide for our airline clients. So what is the crux of my message? With 17 years’ experience under our belt as a contact centre outsourcer servicing airline clients, the best advice I can give any airline is to focus on prioritising communication and convenience. The modern airline customer craves information and simplicity. Give them this and they will be your customer for life.
Airline Case Studies
If you found my blog interesting, check out these airline case studies:
Aviation Industry Case Studies: Customised Solutions sustain Partnerships
Optimising Operations with an Innovative Approach
Publish Date: October 17, 2016 5:00 AM
I am an advocate for Live Chat, through seeing how Live Chat has benefited our clients and their customers. In fact, we have had seen this customer communication channel gain more and more momentum in the last 2-3 years.
So what does the data say? Firstly, there has been a 33.8% year-on-year rise in Live Chat customer usage. Secondly, 81.1% of the 1320 companies who participated in the 2016 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking report stated that they would be introducing this channel by 2017. (Dimension Data’s 2016 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking report, © Dimension Data 2013-2016)
I believe there are a few key drivers behind this growth, namely:
- First of all, Companies are recognising the benefit Live Chat can bring to the customer experience and reacting to customer demand
- Furthermore, Companies are recognising the untapped potential Live Chat has as a cost cutting mechanism and revenue generator
So what is all the fuss about? Let us have a closer look at some of the potential benefits Live Chat has for your business.
The bottom line – Live Chat is convenient for your customers
In a world of real-time customer engagement, users expect to be able to get in touch with someone virtually – anytime, anywhere. Not only do they want to reach someone virtually, they also want immediate feedback. Live Chat successfully meets this customer expectation, because it is a virtual communication channel characterised by immediate 2-way communication.
A study by Barclays revealed on the top of Britain’s most hated time-wasters is having to stay on hold. I am sure a global study would have the same result. It is certainly on the top of my list. Live Chat addresses this customer pain point.
It also eliminates another common customer complaint, which all contact centre professionals will be familiar with, namely expensive call costs.
A popular feature customers enjoy is the ability to request a transcription of the Live Chat conversation. This feature is not only convenience for your customer, it is also an invaluable tool for your company to gain customer insights and improve the overall customer experience.
I am not saying Live Chat replaces voice, because there will always been a need for human-to-human interaction and you will always have customers that do not use this channel, but it definitely can affect the customer experience in a positive way.
Live Chat will influence your bottom line
So how will Live Chat affect your bottom line? Live Chat increases agent efficiency by allowing multiple chats simultaneously, thus reducing the need to hire more people. Additionally, triggers can be set up activated by customer behaviour to save on repetitive typing and facilitate automation.
My personal favourite benefit is that the infrastructure investment and setup is so minimal. A simple piece of code and a subscription to the right package is usually all you need to introduce this into your customer communication channels.
Generally, any alternative communication channel will reduce your call volume. However, popularity, immediacy and increased first contact resolution contribute to this specific channel having a greater impact on reducing call volume than others before it.
Not only does Live Chat save you money, it can also boost your sales. You can proactively engage customers online with purchase recommendations, answer questions they might have about a specific product or service and quickly erase any doubts they might have to facilitate the buying decision and ultimately close a sale.
Live Chat also increases your opportunities for upselling and cross selling products and services. Once a Live Chat representative is engaged in a chat with a customer and understands their needs, it creates the perfect environment for them to recommend additional purchases.
Ok, so you are convinced Live Chat has untapped potential for your business, but how do you convince your CFO?
The numbers speak for themselves. A 2015 study conducted by the Aberdeen Group, which compared businesses with Live Chat compared to those without, revealed the following:
- 34% greater annual improvement in customer satisfaction rates
- 20% greater annual improvement in customer contact abandonment rates
- 9.3 x greater annual improvement in agent utilisation rates
- 2.6 x greater annual improvement in customer care costs
- 2.4 x greater annual increase in cross-sell- and up-sell revenue
I believe these compelling stats and benefits make Live Chat not only viable, but an essential tool in the contact centre. My recommendation for any company would be to put this on their priority list, because their competitors certainly are. So what are you waiting for?
Publish Date: July 20, 2016 5:00 AM
As the second quarter of 2016 begins we find ourselves very busy planning for the rest of 2016. In 2015, the contact centre industry experienced a number of shifts and changes, and this quarter has proved to be no different. Dimension Data’s Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Summary Report published in 2015 shows that the demand for digital interactions greatly increased in 2015 making up about 35% of interactions. A study by Gartner published in 2015 suggested that 89% of businesses would be competing primarily on customer experience by the end of 2016, which of course means an increasing emphasis on the role of the contact centre and the level of service expected by clients. In my 20+ years of experience, I have to admit that being able to create a unique customer experience has always been a competitive advantage in the contact centre industry. Numerous Contact Centre predictions stand out for me this year, and there are specific predictions that have definitely come to life within Mindpearl’s Contact Centres in the first quarter of 2016.
So let us have a look at my top five contact centre predications for 2016:
Increased Focus on Customer Experience
Creating an extraordinary customer experience has always been a great priority within Mindpearl so much that it forms part of our vision ‘Pushing the boundaries of convention to deliver the ultimate brand experience’. Customer experience is about creating emotional connections or as we call it ‘human connections’ between our clients and their customers. Our dynamic employees have the significant responsibility of creating these human connections. These unique connections have become more and more essential within the contact centre industry, as most decisions are emotionally driven. To create an extraordinary customer experience one must have a genuine inclination to help our clients and their customers at every opportunity. This trait is a priority when Mindpearl recruits their highly skilled agents. It is through amazing people that we are able to create the ultimate brand experience and act as custodians of our clients brands.
A Continued Need for Voice Support
It is evident that the use of self-service tools are constantly increasing which, in some cases, can result in a reduction of call volume and in other cases could cause an increase in call volumes. I can therefore safely say that Voice Support will be here for more than just the foreseeable future. The increase in call volumes exist when customers experience faults and challenges with the self-service tools available. These issues often bring about more calls that are complex and require highly skilled customer service agents who are able to deal with irate, well-informed customers who have been searching the net for a solution and have not found it. At this point, the human interaction becomes very important, as the customer will be subconsciously seeking an emotional connection, somebody that can understand their frustration and provide them with a solution. While implementing online services is a good thing it is definitely not a replacement for voice support. Online Services and Voice Support can be a true advantage if implemented together correctly and can accommodate a wider audience and enhance the service offering. Recent, very public, major on-line security breaches within various high profile consumer organisations, combined with the ‘human’ factor tells me that certain consumers will limit or restrict their use of on-line tools when it comes to their financial transactions.
Demand for Detailed Data
Data becomes extremely essential when identifying customer needs and areas for improvement. Contact Centres that actively measure and analyse their statistics on an ongoing basis are able to recognise trends and identify areas of concern while it is still fresh and can be acted upon. In addition, this access to data allows the vendor to approach challenges in a proactive rather than reactive manner. There are always changes in the markets and with these changes client needs too will alter. The ability to make quick changes to your contact centre’s approach to meeting client needs is imperative in the Omni-channel world; however, this is only possible when there is an in-depth comprehension of your data and customer behaviours. Call Centre.co.uk predicts that contact centres must stay ahead of the game and become completely customer-centric in 2016.
Business Continuity Planning (BCP) and Disaster Recovery (DR) is key
In 2016, the ability to operate during emergencies and unplanned events is becoming more and more significant to clients and this has been emphasised recently by natural disasters and major security breaches. The ability to re-route work to centres and systems in other locations has become a necessity for Contact Centres and clients alike. Clients desire zero interruptions to their business regardless of the situation and are more likely to go with vendors who are able to offer BCP and DR.
Quality Driven Approach
Gone are the days where all that clients wanted from a contact centre was cost reduction. The way to obtain new business and competitive advantage in 2016 is to be able to offer a high quality service as well as build and grow loyalty within the customer base. Clients are becoming more open to employing higher skilled resources, as they know this can help achieve and maintain better quality results to their markets. At Mindpearl, we pride ourselves in the quality service we provide and are cognisant of the fact that long-standing partnerships are not only built on cost saving but quality and consistency, which play an integral role in the development of long-standing relationships with clients.
In conclusion, amongst the many predictions and initiatives that are out there today these ones stood out for me. The Contact Centre Industry is a dynamic, fast-paced industry that experiences numerous shifts and changes and whilst some of the trends I have highlighted are by no means brand new – they are as relevant to our success as we progress through 2016. So, let us see what the rest of 2016 has in store for the Contact Centre World.
Publish Date: April 5, 2016 5:00 AM
For larger companies, the contact centre is a critical business system. The U.S Small Business Administration in Washington DC reports (source) approximately 25 percent of businesses that are affected by disaster fail to reopen. The implications of an unplanned and unprepared for event can be devastating for any organisation. At Mindpearl, we understand the significance of maintaining availability and providing continuous service to clients who partner with us for their outsourcing needs. Extended outages or downtime in our business operations would inflict a direct and measurable impact on our clients business. So it is therefore critically important to spend sufficient time planning for unforeseen events. We invest time, money and resource in getting this area of our business right, which is a strategy that has been more than justified on several occasions over the years and most recently when Cyclone Winston tore across the South Pacific (Cyclone Winston was the most severe cyclone to ever hit this region and classified in Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale.)
Some key benefits of BCP:
Uninterrupted Operational and Customer Service Support
A major priority for all outsource providers is to deliver to their clients a continuous service that is not interrupted by unplanned events. Unplanned and often disastrous events can have major impacts on many aspects of any business. The ability to provide uninterrupted Operational and Customer Service Support can only be achieved when an organisation implements effective BCP. When a business is able to identify the impacts and establish an efficient reaction plan it becomes easier to make legitimate decisions in a limited amount of time. This is a great advantage within the outsourcing industry as many clients will factor effective BCP in making their buying decision.
Avoid or minimise the loss of business revenue
When a business is unable to operate, it has a direct impact on the revenue generated. When an organisation is able to determine the risks and impact of a disastrous event, they are also able to identify the potential financial exposure. This provides a much needed financial view and creates the ability to minimise and/or prevent financial loss.
Cultivate Client Confidence
Building strong relationships with clients requires trust and credibility. Many of Mindpearl’s clients have gone through their own crisis situations and it has been during those times when Mindpearl’s flexibility and capability to support our clients, has helped create that positive level of trust and reliability. Effective BCP positions an organisation as an ‘Outsourcer of Choice’ and positively influences an organisation’s confidence in their choice of partner.
Increases Staff Morale
BCP contributes to staff confidence and loyalty. With effective planning in place, management and staff have the capacity and resource to respond in a structured and tested manner. When employees feel part of a proven solution their confidence level increases and they can play integral roles in disaster management. Over the years we have supported clients who have been affected by a number of emergency situations including the 9/11 attacks, the Japanese Tsunami and the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption and it has been evident to me that without adequate BCP we would have failed our clients every time.
Brand Equity and Enhanced Business Prominence
Protecting Brand Equity is key when rendering Customer Service support to clients. Effective BCP retains and enhances the brand equity bringing with it a number of additional benefits including: increased margins, customer loyalty, expansion opportunities, negotiating power and a competitive advantage. When an organisation succeeds in minor or zero disruption to its services during an unplanned emergency situation it usually outshines its competitors and maintains and strengthens its reputation, therefore increasing customer and market confidence
In conclusion, from our experience an organisation that prioritises Business Continuity Planning is not only protecting its assets, but is actively investing in the future of the business. Effective BCP not only benefits an organisation, it enhances the service offering and positions the business exceptionally well.
Publish Date: April 5, 2016 5:00 AM
First call resolution is an essential metric for any contact centre for two very simple reasons. Firstly it drives customer satisfaction and secondly, it reduces operating costs. In todays, challenging economic and competitive environment, customer retention is as important as attracting new customers.
So what is first call resolution? To the customer it means that their question has been answered or issue resolved without the Ping-Pong effect. In my experience three of the most common causes of repeat calls include: Agents lack the authority to solve problems, Agents provide unclear or incorrect information and poorly designed IVRs.
So how do you overcome these causes? There are some very simple actions that can help increase first call resolution, which we have experienced firsthand with our clients and our own business.
Agents lack the authority to solve problems
In many cases, call backs result in the fact that agents are not given the authority to deal with very basic issues that encompass most of their daily enquiries. This causes customers to be transferred multiple times and ultimately results in customer dissatisfaction. I’m not saying, agents need to be given free reign. Naturally every company has to mitigate risk and abuse, so how do you empower agents without risk and ensure first call resolution?
- Move away from scripted environments, allow your agents to build natural rapport. The last thing an irate customer wants is to speak to a robot.
- Equip your agents with the correct training, including call control techniques. We have built specific training around first call resolution, which we customise for each client to empower our agents. It is worth the investment, when you see the results.
- Make sure your agents have all the tools they need to get their job done – if you expect an agent to resolve a customer’s issue, they need the right information and equipment to do so
- Last, but certainly not least, grant the appropriate level of authority to your agents so that they can handle the type of calls they receive. Often this means, empowering agents to make small concessions within set parameters. The impact to your customer experience can be astronomical.
Agents provide unclear or incorrect information
We have all had that experience, when you call a contact centre and the agent gives you information that is ambiguous and contradictory. I am sure you have also, like me, called a contact centre and the agent puts you on hold for an excessive amount of time, in order to find information. The worst for me is when something is advertised and I call a contact centre and the agent just isn’t aware of it. Every one of these scenarios will either cause a call back, a transfer or a lost customer. So how can you address this?
- Train! Train! Train! – Invest in refresher training and product update training etc. It can mean the difference between first call resolution and one of the catastrophes described above
- Ensure agents have access to all required information in advance – don’t publish something before your contact centre is aware of it. This is a recipe for disaster.
- Empower agents with a knowledge base that is quick and easy to access and make sure they know how to access all the information necessary to complete customer interactions
- Get feedback from your agents on ways to improve first call resolution – you will be surprised at the results. Your agents deal with your customers’ every day, they have already thought of a million ways to improve your customer experience. All you need to do is ask, and you will receive a wealth of expertise
- Again – scripts can be useful to a point. Agents need to be able to problem solve and this cannot be done with a script. Problem solving needs to be part of your hiring criteria, your training, your culture and your customer service methodology
Poorly designed IVRs
There is so much research out there that shows while IVR’s are central to any contact centre, a poorly designed IVR can not only impact first call resolution, but also effect customer retention which significantly impacts any companies bottom-line. So what can you do about it?
- Get your customers to the right place from the start. Nothing will cause an unnecessary transfer more quickly than a bad IVR implementation
- Customers should get to where they need to be simply and within a maximum of two or three selections. By the third selection your customer wants to speak to an agent.
- Design your IVR based on your customer’s needs – not your own. When you base your IVR on customer goals instead of business goals, you are positioning yourself with first call resolution in mind
- Plan for happy customers and not only reducing costs. (In the long run you will reduce costs as a result)
So if you are looking at ways to improve your first call resolution, try some of these tips, I am sure you will experience the same drastic results some of our clients have.
Publish Date: November 25, 2015 5:00 AM
The employment market has changed drastically over the last decade. Gone are the days when employees stay with one company for their entire career and that is especially true for millennials. As the largest generation in the workforce today, millennials have embodied the term ‘job hopper’. The general tenure for a millennial employee is two years, compared to seven years for a baby boomer.
So with all these changes in the labour market, the idea of recognising an employee’s length of service might seem rather redundant. We are extremely proud to have celebrated numerous 5 year, 10 year and 15 year Long Service Awards this year, with more to come in 2016. We have found that Long Service Awards are still considered one of the most important recognition tools for our people. So what are the benefits of Long Service Awards?
Motivating and Engaging staff
Long service awards can go a long way in motivating and engaging staff. In Mindpearl offices outside Australia where Long Service Leave is not legislated one of the Long Service benefits we offer our employees is an increase in their annual leave with every year of service. This is a benefit that we have found genuinely motivates our people, as it adds value to their lives. When a benefit adds value to an employee’s life, the reward is appreciated so much more. People want to work for a company that cares about their wellbeing.
Rewarding Loyalty and Commitment to the business
Long Service Awards might seem like a thing of the past, but I feel they still have an important role to play in rewarding loyalty and commitment to the business. We have found that symbolic value is as important as the actual value of the award itself. A personalised award, presented and received in front of senior management and peers carries a great deal of weight. It shows the company has taken the time to recognise the value the individual has added and continues to add to the business.
Previously it was common for employers to reward individuals with a Long Service Award after 25, 30 or 40 years, however such tenures are now rare. The milestones for Long Service recognition have been reduced in most industries, to adapt to the millennials. Some industries have even started rewarding from year one. This short term approach can bring with it several benefits, including retention. With the cost of recruitment and retention increasing annually, it only makes sense to invest in retaining your best talent.
Strengthens the Culture of an Organisation
Recognition of Long Service also strengthens the culture of the organisation and shows that the employer values loyalty. When employees are recognised for their years of loyal service and the value they bring to the organisation, it sends a clear message not only to the individual being celebrated, but to all staff. We have found internal brand adoption easier, as our people are more motivated to live out the values of the company when they feel a sense of pride and community within their own workplace.
While the milestones for qualification have shifted to adapt to the changes in the labour market, I firmly believe the value of Long Service Awards have increased for the individual, but also for the business as a whole. This has been affirmed through so many Long Service Award recipients within our own organisation during the past year, including myself.
Publish Date: November 25, 2015 5:00 AM
With social media vastly increasing global awareness when it comes to social responsibility, there is a greater need for individuals and organisations to get involved and to be accountable. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a term that is now widely recognised by companies worldwide.
CSR has so many different definitions and I am often faced with questions on this, such as:
How do we as an organisation even begin to get involved? Will our staff want to get involved and more importantly, will our seemingly small contribution create a greater impact to our communities or environment as well us improving our bottom line?
These questions made me think of John.D Rockerfeller, known to many as the richest man in US history, who said, “Every right implies a responsibility. Every opportunity, an obligation. Every possession, a duty.” This is fundamentally what CSR means to me.
Something interesting I read about Corporate Social Responsibility is that it is a term that was introduced as far back as the 50’s when companies began to introduce this into their business culture, because staff as well as business owners felt the need to give back, specifically when they made a certain amount of profit. Call it moral duty; call it tax relief, either way I believe this need is inherently in our DNA as people.
How do businesses get involved in CSR?
There are quite a few categories of social responsibility that businesses can participate in, more than I will mention here, but to determine which initiative is best, companies must link their CSR initiatives to their vision and values.
A few examples of CSR Initiatives:
Environmental: A core focus for corporate social responsibility initiatives within most companies is the environment. Businesses in every sector have increased their carbon footprint as well as their waste stream. All of this leads to global warming. Any steps that companies can take to reduce those footprints and waste are considered both good for the company and society as a whole.
Community Involvement: Businesses also practice social responsibility by donating their time, efforts and resources to local charities or community upliftment projects. This not only makes an impact in the community, but also promotes staff engagement.
CSR in the workplace: Creating a working environment that encourages fairness, promotes staff wellness, as well as ethical business practice also demonstrates corporate social responsibility. A balanced CSR programme focused on the internal environment, as well as the impact a company can make externally is essential.
Successful CSR in my opinion is threefold, it should contribute to business success, make an impact in the world around us, but it should also feed into staff morale and motivation.
Why should businesses get involved in CSR?
At first glance your company may seem similar to all the rest, so what could set you apart and make your company unique, make your company sustainable? Something as seemingly simple as CSR could do just that. Having staff who actively and enthusiastically participate in, or, are involved in CSR, could make all the difference,
Implementing CSR initiatives that support local communities and/or the environment improve brand reputation. CSR can help you engage with your customers as well as staff in new ways. It can even aid your business in retaining new clients and increasing customer retention.
Equally important, creating internal CSR Initiatives, such as Wellness days, as an example, also goes a long way in increasing staff engagement and staff morale. This doesn’t increase a company’s revenue in terms of monetary gain, but it does influence a different kind of gain. A gain in terms of happier, more motivated, enthusiastic and productive staff.
Having a positive brand reputation and happy staff will ultimately and positively affect your bottom line and affect your sustainability! We have experienced these tangible benefits first hand, through our work with Ubuntu Touch Project, Siyaya Skills Institute and Siljeur Leadership Development Trust to name a few.
To quote Rob Feen from Sustainable Business Toolkit, ‘The key is not to treat CSR as an ‘initiative, but to simply view it as the way you do business.’
Publish Date: September 23, 2015 5:00 AM
LPO Thought Leadership Series
In this series we will focus on outsourcing as a strategy to overcome the challenges faced by Legal Professionals today.
Change is the law of life. Those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
John F. Kennedy
What has happened to the profession?
Lawyers have been cast out from their ivory towers, and pushed into the cut and thrust of the market place. The corridors of magic circle law firms are no longer exclusive. In-house General Counsel are no longer protected from the exigencies of their business.
Is it possible that law has become a business?
Of course law is a business, ask any General Counsel (GC) struggling to meet business targets, or any managing partner of a law firm struggling to maintain profits.
Legal practitioners have been forced to accommodate global corporate clients in financial distress; in addition, the corporate client has become far more aggressive and intelligent in managing their legal spend and interrogating their legal costs. Furthermore, law firms also face the corporate cost pressures their clients are battling and must themselves find ways to operate efficiently while reducing costs.
These adverse market conditions which have affected business globally are compounded for lawyers in that their very profession is threatened. In all jurisdictions to varying degrees, work that has historically been reserved for practicing lawyers has been ‘released’. Non-lawyers are now able to charge for work usually reserved for lawyers, and in most jurisdictions non-lawyers may hold an interest in law firms. The United Kingdom has for some time (since 2012) sanctioned Alternative Business Structures (ABS) which allow non-lawyers to charge fees for work usually reserved for lawyers, the US has also relaxed work reservation and most jurisdictions globally have followed suit.
Coupled to this shrinkage in scope of work, is a global pushback against the perceived exorbitant cost of legal services. The UK has seen the implementation of cost ‘reforms’ (the Jackson Reforms, 2013) which seek to contain legal costs and prevent the exponential spiralling of legal fees. Similar measures are in place in Europe and the USA.
The Burning Question – ‘How’
The burning question facing law executives is ‘How’. How to manage efficiency and profitability? How to grow their business? How to produce quality service in the face of ever increasing cost pressure?
Strategies for the ‘How’
The pressure to reduce costs and increase profitability is critical and has pushed business to look for innovative delivery in legal services. Firms have applied creative billing strategies including ‘capped rates’ ‘secondment’ etc., but by far the biggest innovation has been the commoditising of legal processes. Aligning with other business services, this has led to a new approach to legal services, i.e. “The provisions of affordable innovative legal deliverables enabled by technology and best-fit resources”
Innovative Legal Deliverables
Technology provides business with the ability to access these resources globally – and like any other business, these (legal) processes can be outsourced to more economical cost centres. Businesses are considering locations, sites or destinations where the most cost savings are achieved. ICT advancements and globalisation have provided firms with a variety of low cost locations – including offshore. Typically these locations are in developing countries where resources – particularly human resources, are more cost-effective.
The motivation to outsource is almost exclusively related to cost, but must always be weighed against risk. Risk is never more apparent in a profession where liability stalks each and every process. It is for this reason that outsourcing legal processes presents a unique and more complex challenge than the typical services outsourced today.
Strategies for the ‘Where’
Outsourcing locations include on-shore options such as Manchester, near-shore e.g. Scotland, Wales and far-shore including India, the Philippines and South Africa.
South Africa has a unique advantage in this market and can rely on the already compelling and persuasive benefits that attract BPS (Business Process Services) which include:
- Time zone
- Corporate cultural affinity
- Robust infrastructure
- Niche expertise
In addition, South Africa offers a common jurisprudential history, a similar regulatory and legislative framework and a mirrored legal structure to the UK. This is demonstrated in the recent alliances created between multi-national law firms and high profile South African law firms. In short, South Africa presents a convincing solution for those firms (legal or corporate) looking to outsource safely. Look out for the next article in this series, where we take a closer look at the Legal Process Outsourcing landscape in South Africa.
If you are interested in knowing more about LPO and the benefits of offshoring to South Africa, join us for an LPO Business Breakfast this October in London: LPO Business Breakfast Details
Co-Author: Charnell Hebrand (BA.LLB)
Charnell Hebrard is a lawyer with specialist skills in economic development (ICT, BPO, skills development), regulation and policy, and commercial. She has exposure across industry segments including financial services, ICT and the public sector. Charnell consults in the BPO sector with a focus in LPO and advises in complex regulatory issues, corporate contracting and public / private alliances.
Publish Date: September 15, 2015 5:00 AM
Whitepaper – Thinking about outsourcing your call centre? Find out why Mindpearl chose Fiji for our state of the art international call centre
With increased negative publicity around overall customer experience in low cost outsourcing locations, Fiji offered Mindpearl an alternative which ensures competitive rates, without compromising on quality and damaging our brand.
Why Fiji is selected as a Customer Service Hub over other outsourcing destinations?
- Boasts a native English speaking workforce, easily understood by clients in New Zealand, Australia, USA, Canada and the United Kingdom
- Renowned for friendly customer service
- Supported by robust infrastructure
- 4 hour flight from Australia
- Compelling cost advantage
- Awarded Best Flexible Outsourcing Service in 2015
- Awarded European Offshoring Destination of the Year in 2014
Intrigued? Want to find out more? This whitepaper delves into the qualitative and quantitative differentiators which have positioned Fiji as the contact centre world’s best kept secret.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your free copy.
Publish Date: August 14, 2015 5:00 AM
I am always baffled when I call a contact centre whose language service is English only. Just as organisations cannot expect customers to tolerate single-channels, nor can they expect customers to be English-speaking-only either. Asking a caller, “Do you speak English?” or requesting that they find an English-speaking family member to continue the conversation, simply isn’t an acceptable level of service anymore.
In general, people will interact in a language other than their mother tongue in order to complete day to day, straightforward tasks – however when it comes to more sensitive topics such as dealing with their bank, making large purchases or booking the annual vacation; speaking in their own language will translate into more sales and a superior customer experience.
Even markets that were traditionally considered English speaking only, such as the United States, Australia and the UK, are experiencing a growing need to diversify to a multilingual support base, to accommodate a growing market of customers from various language demographics.
So what do the stats say?
Was that an eye opener or what?
The numbers don’t lie! Contact centres need to change with the times and consider the amount of diversity that has taken place over the last decade. Get with the programme or miss out on an opportunity to improve your customer satisfaction and revenue.
So where do you begin?
Your route to a multilingual support system will depend on the level of customer interaction required and your teams’ ability to deal with multiple time zones. However the most critical consideration for providing multilingual support is to find a talent pool of multilingual support agents.
Many global employers find that it can be a challenge to find contact centre agents that speak more than one language. In general, this often means locating your contact centre offshore. If you’re considering this route, you must consider a number of other factors besides finding a multilingual population. You need to ensure that the government is stable and supportive of your business, and that the country offers a solid telecommunications infrastructure.
I know multilingual can be daunting and quite costly. That is why so many businesses outsource their multilingual requirements to specialists. When you outsource your support, it basically means you pay someone to hire support staff, train them, get resources and do everything that goes with it. Outsourcing allows you to upscale as your business grows without the headache (or the risk) of recruiting and training new staff members. If you’re considering this route, you need to do your homework. Multilingual Contact Centre support is a specialist function, with numerous intricacies. Language proficiency is not enough for call centre agents to engage with customers effectively. They need to go beyond the spoken word and understand the cultural context of the issues presented. I cannot stress this point enough.
Mindpearl offers a fully customised and flexible solution for Multilingual Contact Centres, with over 16 years’ experience in providing this support. We have been instrumental in numerous clients’ multilingual support systems, including blended solutions with a combination of in-house language support and outsourced. If you’d like to discuss a strategy or solutions to support your company’s multilingual contact centre support or you just need some advice please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Publish Date: June 12, 2015 5:00 AM
In the last 2 years we have seen a shift in the contact centre industry. As customer experience has become a more central focus, the correlation to employee satisfaction and retention has also become clearer. More and more companies are realising that customer engagement is directly linked to agent engagement. As the power of the agent is acknowledged and more progressive contact centres take the necessary steps to ensure that agents feel empowered and engaged in their jobs, they are reaping the rewards.
What the studies show?
Gallup research shows that worldwide, just 13% of employees are engaged in their jobs – they are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace. The remaining 87% of employees are either not engaged or indifferent or even worse, actively disengaged and potentially hostile to their organisations.
The scary thought is your customers are coming in contact with these disengaged employees. How can you transform customer engagement, if your employees aren’t engaged? I look at this and I’m not dismayed, because I see a huge business opportunity. Something I hear all the time is, ‘How do we differentiate our customer service?’ As far as I’m concerned, this is the opportunity we have all been waiting for. So many companies are lagging behind in this area; this is the perfect time to become a game changer.
So, where do you start?
To begin to address employee engagement issues, you need to focus on internal communication, employee empowerment, process design, analytics and training.
- Internal Communications: No one wants to work in the dark. Get obsessed with internal communications! For one, employees need to understand how their work is connected to broader business objectives.
- Employee Empowerment: Empower your contact centre employees allowing them to make often apparent decisions. Are your agents empowered to compensate for poor customer service or to negotiate discount with a high-value client?
- Process Design: Are your processes so rigid that it reduces an agent to following a script? Then you need to look at your process design. Giving agents the opportunity to use their initiative or suggest alternative solutions for their customers and create a natural rapport with their customers.
- Analytics: Annual employee engagement surveys are not enough anymore. Use your analytics as an updated and frequent temperature gauge, so that you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
- Training: Training, improvement and development must be a continuous process. Live it! Breathe it! Invest in it!
So what are the rewards? At Mindpearl we have not only experienced a higher level of customer engagement, but we have experienced holistic benefit realisation. Including higher service and quality, higher customer satisfaction, increased sales, higher levels of profit and higher shareholder returns.
So what’s the point?
I have come to the conclusion that employee engagement is the key to customer engagement. I know many companies are focused on their people, but this focus needs to become more strategic. Measure it! Learn from it! Transform from it! It will only bring your business success.
Publish Date: June 9, 2015 5:00 AM
Mindpearl’s Fiji Contact Centre operation has over 650 staff today and employee engagement is very high in our order of priorities. We firmly believe motivated and engaged people are more productive people and social media is very much a part of everyday life these days.
Productivity is, of course, also of paramount importance and so striking the right balance when it comes to social media is the key. Mindpearl limits access to non-business critical sites within our contact centres to ensure we deliver a fully-focussed work force for our global clients. We provide free internet cafe access for all of our staff in our break out areas & cafe to enjoy their favourite social media sites during leisure time.
We also provide a gym, volleyball, pool table, table tennis and cable TV for those not wanting to stare at another computer screen during their time off. We even provide a free hot meal daily for all employees. Balance is very important to ensure we are looking after the well-being of our people.
Publish Date: May 18, 2015 5:00 AM