Outsourcing in call centres and customer service
by Martin Scovell, CEO of MatsSoft.
Friday, June 08, 2012
This year represents a pivotal period for outsourced contact centres, with financial pressures, technological advances, compliance issues and consolidation all driving deep and lasting change within the industry.
One of the key trends will see contact centres increasingly recognised as a strategic asset rather than a tactical operation. There’s little doubt that customer service is seen as a key battleground in competitive markets, and many organisations are prioritising initiatives that will improve customer acquisition, advocacy and loyalty. Outsourced contact centres that can demonstrate how they will contribute to such business-building efforts will certainly be favoured.
At the same time, budgetary constraints mean that cost control remains paramount, so contact centres that can offer savings will have a significant competitive advantage.
Clearly, aligning these two apparently conflicting demands is a difficult proposition, but it’s one that will accentuate the importance of new technology. MATS (Multi Application Tracker System), for example, is a highly flexible and comparatively low-cost web-based solution that helps manage communications with customers and third parties by generating automated progress update messages.
These messages, through multiple channels such as SMS text or email, can be sent at key stages of almost any particular process, whether an enquiry, application or complaint. The objective is to keep customers proactively informed in a timely manner without placing further demands on staff. On the contrary, this solution has been shown to reduce incoming ‘chaser’ calls by up to 60 per cent, which in turn reduces the need to recruit vast banks of call handlers – a feature of the offshoring movement which is now being reversed.
Adoption of such solutions gives outsourced call centres a significant value-added proposition that will not only improve the service levels delivered to customers but simultaneously reduce fixed costs in order to present a better deal overall.
This approach also assists measurability. Since the system inherently logs and tracks progress on a case-by-case basis, real-time performance reports can be generated which calculate aggregate statistics about case completions. Such data can prove invaluable to both the call centre service supplier and its client.
Another advantage of this approach is that it supports the evolution of unified communications. The key is to achieve consistency across the many channels through which customers can be reached – particularly on mobile devices via SMS text, email or even personalised web pages.
The emergence of unified communication represents an opportunity for call centres, but the practical demands of delivery will necessitate increasing adoption of supportive technology, such as the MATS solution.
These types of offerings will not only increase the attractiveness of outsourced providers but also the traction they can gain within the client organisation, which will help cement long-term relationships.
This is true at all levels of the market, but particularly for mid-tier call centre providers, which will require agility, scalability and innovation to compete with the larger players, including some of the major BPO organisations which are continuing to grow through acquisition.
Comments from Martin Scovell, CEO of MatsSoft, the provider of a web-based managed service that combines workflow, communication and reporting tools to support integrated processes and improve both the efficiency and the effectiveness of customer relations. Users of the system include some of the UK’s largest financial institutions, as well as clients in the public sector.