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SYKES Guides Major Electronics Brand through Customer Service Transformation

BACKGROUND
This major global brand provides audio/video electronics and technology products for the consumer and professional markets. With products such as TVs, digital cameras and Blu-ray players, its customers are technology enthusiasts who spend considerable time online shopping, consuming entertainment content and engaging with brands.

While client revenues are approximately $80 billion, what comprises those earnings changes as technology evolves. In 2009, it was eReaders and computers. Today, business is largely from digital cameras, smartphones, tablets and TVs.

As explained by the company’s Vice President of Customer Care and Telesales, “When you’re on a growth curve you want fixed costs. When you’re on a decline, you want variable costs.” As competition heated up, and economic conditions reduced revenue, flipping the customer service and support model from 80% fixed costs, 20% variable costs became his goal.

CHALLENGE
Based on the company’s long-standing culture, doing everything internally was standard operating procedure—from manufacturing to customer service. They ran their own customer support and sales operation in the US that employed 1,500 agents. Ramping up and down when agents were their employees was difficult. It’s hard to let people go and hire them back in line with seasonal changes.

The company’s first attempt at outsourcing its contact center failed due to micro management. While the transition reduced employee headcount from 1,500 to 140, those remaining employees were there to watch the outsourcers. The model resulted in the creation of extremely complex processes that made it difficult to retain and attract talent—especially to a declining business.

Additionally, they developed training for the contact center agents but this was written from its corporate perspective rather than an agent’s, making it more difficult for the agents to deliver the caliber of service the company required.

They realized that their contact center wasn’t running efficiently. Agent utilization rates ran around 40%, even though call volume was substantially lower than it had been in 2008 because much of its service and support had moved online.

In order to transform its customer service operations, a cultural shift was in order. The management team wanted everything better at lower cost. They had to change their thinking to transform customer service and support.

THEIR GOAL
Transform customer service and support by charging SYKES to take full control of contact center operations, optimizing efficiencies with a variable pricing model. The KPI they look to for success is cost of contact without reducing the quality of service provided.

APPROACH
SYKES took a very consultative approach to guiding through the transformation. In essence, everything was on the table, from people to process to technology. SYKES took special care in setting the client’s expectations. The team asked a lot of questions and spent time making sure the client team understood what the changes would impact. SYKES kept the conversations as simple as possible to keep the transition moving forward.

Re-engineering customer service and support started with mapping the people. It was critical to understand the roles and responsibilities currently in place in order to redesign workflows and operational protocols to achieve the goal set by the client. This included analyzing product support, engineering and professional services.

With this analysis, the SYKES team was able to completely redefine positions and responsibilities to achieve the bigger vision set by the team. Different combinations of skills and groupings of people were created to meet the needs of a variable environment.

After the people, came the technology. SYKES took over a lot of administration and back office responsibility that isn’t normally a part of contact center services. This included the technology in place and the telephony. The client now pays for what it uses rather than owning the systems and equipment.

The Shared Services Model for Single Partner Outsourcing Achieves:

Shared Services Model for Single Partner Outsourcing - SYKES

RESULTS
-Cost of contact is approximately 25% of what it was before SYKES
-Reduced costs by 35% due to shift in ratio between variable and fixed costs
-Operational improvements and process re-engineering resulted in staffing of 850 outsourced agents at 80% utilization, compared to 1,500 agents at 40% utilization when client ran its contact center internally
-Transformation completed 4 months ahead of schedule
-Queues were reduced from 40 to 20
-Out of warranty AHT reduced by 25%

 

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