Keep them happy

The contact centre needs to be at the forefront of a customer retention strategy.

Read time 3min 40sec

The contact centre industry across the globe is in constant evolution, needing to keep ahead of change, harnessing new technologies and trends in communication to maximise business opportunity by securing current customers and garnering new opportunities.

Customer retention is crucial for successful contact centres. Satisfied customers are more likely, but can never be guaranteed, to be loyal, and companies need to use every opportunity to ensure their happy customers remain so.

As the primary interface between customer and company, the contact centre is at the front line, the “voice” of the company, so it needs to be at the forefront of a client retention strategy.

Just as satisfied customers are the best brand proponents for a company, extolling their positive experiences via word of mouth, so are they the first to spread the word about bad service, creating negative perceptions that can cause reputational damage.

Service excellence, therefore, is fundamental to retaining the customer. This takes the shape of professionalism on the part of the contact centre agent - listening to and hearing the customer, and acting on the information efficiently and effectively, proactively solving any complaints or issues.

Social media

Communicating via the media channel of choice is another customer retention tactic, playing a significant role in easing the way in which customer opinion can be accessed and acted on.

Generation Y has no dependence on conventional forms of media.

Andrew Holden is MD of Bytes Outsource Services.

A significant proportion of innovative communication technology uses multimedia as its platform, such as SMS and video calling, and smartphones that offer instant messaging services and access to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Multimedia is defined as voice, e-mail, fax, Web and SMS - or a combination of these. All of these communication options hold individual appeal, depending on the type of customer.

Generally, older customers prefer to speak to an agent on the phone or in person when they have a query or complaint. The younger generation is quite different - it prefers using electronic or messaging services and experiencing a richer, more sophisticated experience, so e-mail and SMS tend to be the channels of choice.

South Africa's younger customer base, known as Generation Y, is recognised not only for its multicultural appeal, but also for being the most techno-savvy of all sectors of the population. Growing up with technology as its communication backbone, Generation Y has no dependence on conventional forms of media, and is far more interested in expressing itself through technology, having control of the channels it uses, and demanding immediate gratification.

The members of Generation Y have grown to expect their choice of communication channels to be available and accessible at all times - anything less is simply not good enough and they will look elsewhere if they are not.

If contact centres are to optimise these newer communication options, and attract and retain the younger generations of customer, technology needs to be able to process, record and respond to these types of queries. Call centres need to keep in step with multimedia developments to meet current service levels, and be able to find the right mix of services to meet the needs of this generation, which soon will be entering the business world and dictating how the consumer world operates.

Outsourcing in SA

Culturally and demographically, South Africa offers numerous advantages over other developing nations playing in the contact centre space, and is becoming an attractive site for offshore outsourcing to English-speaking countries.

Linguistic overlap and high levels of fluency in English score high points for South Africa, which allows access to customer service agents with a fairly neutral accent. This is important in telephonic client interactions, as a certain level of empathy is integral to understanding the needs of customers.

South Africa also has a range of other factors working in its favour, including an advanced telecommunications and cellular infrastructure, time-zone compatibility with Britain and Europe, a favourable exchange rate, and uncompromising service agent quality.

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