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Procuring Contact Center Services for Multi-channel Customer Experiences

Old news: customers have changed.

New dilemma: they want service when and how they expect it and they have less patience waiting for resolution when they need information and assistance.

If they’re unhappy, their online social networks will be the first to hear about their dissatisfaction. What’s putting bank procurement officers in the hot seat is the need to address these changing customer expectations through a variety of channels that didn’t exist when many contact centers were originally deployed. The contact center vendor you select must have the expertise and proficiency to design, implement, and execute a multi-channel strategy for customer service without a blip. A financial institution can’t afford to have one channel adversely impact another.

Research predicts that more than 60 percent of inbound customer service calls will come from smartphones, laptops and devices other than landlines by 2016. This produces a corresponding need for your contact center to be able to monitor and respond to customers via chat, email, SMS text messaging, and social media—in addition to phone.

But phone, as a communication channel, is also changing. When a customer uses a smartphone, their orientation is different. They’re likely on the move and their level of urgency is increased. They want answers to their questions faster than ever—before their cab reaches a destination, or even before the elevator doors close, possibly putting their connection in jeopardy.

This all adds up to a need to consider how all the channels work together. For example, if the customer’s connection to his smartphone is interrupted, does the customer service agent have the ability to send a text message with her callback number and extension? Are there protocols in place for these scenarios that new channels are introducing to the customer experience?

With all of this change, it’s important to adjust the way you evaluate contact center providers based on their expertise in multi-channel interaction designs for customer experience. Following are four recommendations to incorporate in your evaluation:

Channels Served: While it’s important to ensure that an outsourced customer care provider has skills that address all channels in use, it’s prudent to dig a bit deeper. Does the vendor have a methodology that supports the frameworks they develop for the channels themselves, as well as how they work together? Customer interaction design should be a based on a proven approach.

Additionally, take a look at how services are delivered. Are agents cross trained in complementary channels? How are they coached and supported and what type of continuous improvement plan will the vendor put in place? As newer channels evolve, and customer’s transactions become more sophisticated, so too must the skill sets of your customer service agents.

Delivery Options: Whether offshore, onshore, near-shore or virtual work-at-home agents, the best delivery options for your bank may be a combination based on regulatory requirements, cost efficiencies and customer preferences. The vendor you select should be able to help you create the best framework for meeting the needs of your culture and customers.

For example, more expensive talent required to serve demanding, affluent customers may be better sourced through virtual work-at-home and a mortgage concierge program may be best served with an onshore bricks and mortar facility. The vendor you choose should be able to provide the best diversity of delivery options to meet your bank’s specific needs—as well as the flexibility to accommodate scale, as growth occurs for different lines of business.

Co-Creation: Evolving the customer experience in parallel with customer expectations and preferences should be approached as a joint venture with the financial institution and the vendor. This requires the establishment of highly collaborative environments matched to the culture of the institution and the business objectives for the contact center across the channels in use.

As new functions and services are needed, the institution and the vendor work together to solve the problem, create a new value, or increase revenue. This is achieved by creating something entirely new, such as using voice of customer data to glean missed revenue opportunities for cross and upsell.

Innovation: Transforming your contact center to serve up a customer experience integrated seamlessly across channels does not mean starting from scratch. You have contact center processes in place. What you need in a vendor is the expertise and methodology to create innovative ways to elevate the customer experience based on a real-world understanding of the expectations of each channel and how they work together.

The vendor you select should be able to add value to existing services by accomplishing major improvements such as reengineering a business process, or developing new ways to use a channel based on the bank’s opportunities for competitive advantage.
In conclusion, this quote from the 2012 CX Index Report Europe sums up the value of delivering the right customer experience:

“Inquiries are not initiated by customers so they can do all the work; instead they come for solutions which in turn create an abiding memory. This factor alone should drive any CX strategy – what memory do you want them to take away?”

The research also found that 82 percent of consumers asked described the customer service process as being a lot of effort. Differentiating your financial institution with an excellent customer experience requires a level of simplicity that can often seem contradictory given the increasing complexity of the service environment. By evaluating an outsourced customer care provider through a new lens, you’ll make the best match for your customers—today, and tomorrow.