Industry Research : Service Differentiation in an Increasingly Commoditised Market
Business can no longer rely on brand loyalty; it is no longer a consumer driver. Consumers today have savvy about their requirements and options available to them. Assisted by Internet-based services, consumers compare feature to price, and procure in a discerning manner.
Yet product features and a company's ability to provide exceptional service trump price.
Transformational investments have become a priority. These are in the areas of personalised service; proactive communication; customer service flexibility; customer expectation management; and context-led interaction, which drive both customer experience and further potential in revenue generation.
IT enablers must operate within a business model that provides for a reduction of the cost of service, while maintaining quality and responsiveness of each interaction. How does today's organisation "do more with less"?
The way in which processes are automated and communications are streamlined is key to the sustainability and growth of organisations. It is imperative to drive concurrently lower overall cost structures, great efficiency and consumer service.
Simon Cranswick, General Manager of Customer Interactive Solutions at Dimension Data's Western Cape region, outlines six steps to gain advantage:
1. Extend the service interaction architecture to the enterprise for efficiency gains
Apply principles of sound contact centre management best practice. Distribute work intelligently, measure productivity, and create visible performance monitoring.
2. Anticipate customer needs and action them
Embark on proactive contact campaigns that have clearly defined outcomes. Use your knowledge of the customer for discreet cross- and up-sell revenue generation opportunities.
3. Develop an eCollaboration capability
Use Web Services 2.0 and Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) architectures to develop intuitive dialogue that drives convenience. SMS, e-mail, Web sites and kiosks can offer multi-modal communication capability, with service integrity between modes. Agents should have all details of any interaction history in any channel populating their screen.
4. Implement operational dashboards
Include the capability to deal with peaks and troughs across services and across inbound and outbound activities. Well-supported intuitive operational dashboards with clearly visible "traffic light" alarms that highlight potential or current breaches of service metrics. With built-in real-time measurement of performance across geographies, a benchmark can be set and maintained.
5. Optimise the workforce
Gain a grasp of what affects your business and what resources are available. Factors include traffic volume cycles, the impact of events, contact centre overflow to enterprise and outsourcers, employee model mix (permanent and flexi-time, and at-home agents), and skills proficiencies.
Ensure all modes of communication (Web chat, social media, e-mail, SMS) are considered with productivity measurements. Transform the way quality assessments are performed by only studying relevant interactions (poor and excellent) – these will allow for true learning within the organisation.
6. Present a friendly and inviting "face"
Regardless of the point of entry, re-examine the first impression your company presents. Quickly determine why customers have made contact, don't offer anything out of context, and ensure options are offered dynamically. Most importantly, ensure the "front door" is integrated to a routing engine that connects to the most appropriately skilled and available resource.
In choosing your partner and enabling tools, be discerning in three regards:
* Your partner's experience and credentials.
* Best-of-breed versus "in vogue" best-of-suite solution sets.
* Outsourcing this domain, which can even be rendered through a software and platform as service cloud model.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, May 16, 2011