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Telecoms Must Share the Vision with Contact Centers

Customer experiences are not delivered the same way as they were only a few years ago. Customer expectations have changed and so have the channels where they choose to transact business with telecommunications providers. From social to mobile to web, contact centers—as first responders—must adapt to meet customer expectations. But there’s often a limited understanding of business objectives between a telecommunications company and its outsourced contact center provider that inhibits timely adaptation.

Industry trends move quickly. Customers move faster than companies, and those that are the last to catch up face losing market advantages. Companies often shield their business strategies from contact center vendors because their vision of the contact center hasn’t caught up with reality. Where a contact center in the past was seen as simply a cost of doing business, today it’s often the last personalized source of intimacy with customers. Not sharing your goals and objectives with the contact center can be a critical misstep.

Constructing a Shared Business Vision

Procurement officers face the task of communicating and negotiating the contact center services contracted with an outsourced vendor. Telecoms are in a prickly situation with higher levels of antagonistic customers than many other industries.

One reason for the escalation of negativity comes from the increased reliance on connectivity that has become a lifeline for many telecom customers without a clear expression of understanding by telecoms. Conveying that they understand their customers and what’s important to them in regards to a service that many of them can’t fathom living without must take precedence. Among other things, this message must be delivered successfully by the contact center.

Three steps to take:

  1. Procurement officers must collaborate with their colleagues across lines of business to gain an understanding of business objectives that can be enhanced and enabled by the contact center. Probe to identify goals from product development to sales to corporate communications and branch locations to discover what they’re trying to achieve.
  2. Present the objectives to your contact center vendor and ask them to respond with ideas for how contact center workflows can be modified and optimized to aid in the achievement of those goals. Ask them how the interaction design can be tied to KPIs and be willing to allow the vendor to justify the establishment of different metrics than those you’ve used in the past. For example, if an objective of sales is to up-sell a specific data bundle and the vendor’s solution reflects a potential for increasing average handle time (AHT) to make the sale, ask for justification. If the costs of increased time spent on the call can be offset by the revenue growth and/or higher margins by increasing conversions at a specific rate, then the modification of the KPI can be justified in a manner that makes sense for business goals.
  3. Establish an iterative mindset with an open-door policy. The rate of change is swift and unrelenting—both for companies and for customers. The goals your lines of business set at the onset of the vendor relationship may change within weeks or months due to a variety of factors including new product launches, customer adoption of new channels, innovations in adjacent industries, and more.

Sharing of objectives is not a one-time event. As objectives change, they must be communicated to your contact center vendor with a collaborative approach. Your vendor should be given the opportunity to fairly assess the opportunity that can be captured by the contact center that best contributes to helping to meet the new objectives.

Telecoms Can Learn from Contact Center Vendors

Change is scary. That’s a given. But it’s important to remember that an outsourced contact center vendor has a level of expertise that your business does not. The vendor’s total focus is on contact center operations and customer experiences. They likely work within a variety of adjacent industries that can bring new ideas and methods that can be adapted quickly to the needs of telecoms and their customers.

For example, research from Ovum finds that enterprises are wary of adopting social media tools because they are unsure of how to respond in social channels and may have limited budget to invest in developing new capabilities. Your contact center provider will have expertise in these areas, including chat, text, forums, and other social media channels that your customers may frequent. This expertise can ease the growing pains your company might otherwise experience in gaining competence in new areas. They may also be able to collaborate with marketing to provide the response side that marketing teams are unable to scale.

Embrace the Spirit of “Give to Get”

There are many other examples of how the expertise brought by contact centers can provide new opportunities and capabilities to Telecoms to help them design better customer experiences and build higher loyalty. The best way to discover them is to construct a shared business vision that invites and honors contribution from both sides. By working in partnership, the possibilities to improve customer experiences are endless.