Designing Customer Service For 2021 Without The RFP
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) for customer service processes used to be almost exclusively focused on the contact center. Companies that needed a customer service partner would issue a Request For Proposal (RFP) stating the volume of calls, or how many agents they believe are needed, and issue it to a few rival customer service specialists. The question was really little more than ‘how much?” Usually whoever responded to the RFP with the lowest bid got the business.
Things have moved on a lot since then, the idea that BPOs are just running contact centers in 2021 could not be further from the truth. That’s not just because I work for Transcom - take a look at the McKinsey view. They said: “A successful CX measurement system is journey-based, should involve a substantial part of the organization, and can’t be cobbled together from existing systems and outdated mind-sets.”
There are a number of reasons for this change in the industry:
1. Customer expectations: customers expect more. They expect to be served quickly, 24/7, and using the channel they prefer. It’s no longer acceptable to insist on fixed hours and fixed channels, this will only push customers away.
2. Evolving customer journey: customers ask for information before, during, and after a purchase. They want to engage with their favorite brands and often they will use the same channels, such as WhatsApp or social media, as they use to talk to friends. The customer service process is no longer about processing a post-purchase call - it is about managing customer relationships over many years.
3. Technology: chatbots can help automate some processes, Artificial Intelligence can help to create more insight, data analytics can predict what customers want based on earlier behavior, and Augmented Reality can help customers to see products at home before they make a purchase. There are many emerging technologies being normalized through this engagement between brands and customers.
This gives a quick snapshot of what is different and in my role I can see the change on a daily basis. It is more likely that an existing client will ask me for advice on how to improve their customer service processes, or a prospective client will describe a problem and just ask me to suggest some ideas, potential solutions. There is no RFP and nobody asking me to pitch below a certain price. This is a complex collaborative value-add process where a company is asking me for advice.
When I’m in this situation, the number one priority for me is the client and their customers. This is a consultative process where my experience and knowledge can help a company to change direction and improve their customer experience. Nobody is talking today about how many seats are required in a contact center - the emphasis is on how customer satisfaction will be impacted by the processes we can design together.
The same McKinsey study I linked to earlier in this article suggests that changing mind-set to be more customer-oriented, improving operations, and improving IT can lead to a 20-30% improvement in customer satisfaction, a 10-20% improvement in employee satisfaction, and economic gains of 20-50% of the cost being addressed by the project.
That’s the end goal. When I work with a partner I’m solution and technology agnostic. I don’t push standard solutions on anyone. Ask me for advice and you will have my full attention. My team and I can suggest solutions that are completely customized for an individual client.
Nobody is going to improve both customer and employee satisfaction by sending out an RFP that already describes a solution and budget. Let’s talk and see how we can move the conversation beyond customer service as a contact center solution.
Please leave a comment here on the changing customer journey or use my LinkedIn to get in touch directly.