New innovations in outsourcing
Satish Varanasi answers a few questions on the ever-changing outsourcing landscape.
What effect has the COVID-19 pandemic had on the customer experience (CX)?
The COVID-19 pandemic has massively accelerated change as more people work from home and we use technology more to go about our day-to-day lives. We live and breathe online now and instant gratification is the order of the day.
Research has shown that one in three customers will stop interacting with a brand just based on one bad experience, and only one in 26 unhappy customers will complain. Today, nine out of 10 organisations see CX as the primary differentiator that will win marketplace dominance and promote brand equity and loyalty.
What does this mean for CX practitioners in terms of strategy?
Ultimately, what’s happened is a complete overhaul of the traditional CX model. In a world where instant gratification is prized, 67% of customers prefer self-service compared to talking to someone on the phone and 91% of the customers would prefer to search an online knowledge base than speak to a consultant.
What does the current CX landscape mean for the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry?
In the new CX environment, clients want BPOs to drive NPS (Net Promoter Score) up, reduce costs, increase efficiencies and reduce customer effort. It’s a case of ‘transform or die’ – the choice is simple.
It’s now up to the BPO to:
- Reduce service cost by automating simple and repetitive tasks like data entry, payment processing, simple query and low-level complaint handling.
- Simplify customer journeys and reduce customer effort.
- Analyse data and identify process improvement opportunities to increase first contact resolution and NPS/customer satisfaction.
- Build a culture of ‘customer first’ and implement continuous improvement initiatives across the business.
- Invest in technology infrastructure to ensure continuity of services with flexibility to cater to demand fluctuations.
- Create transparency and visibility of service quality and data security.
BPOs are embracing the four pillars of modern CX to stay relevant:
- Data analytics
- Workflow management
- Talent management
Can you expand on these pillars?
Robotic process automation helps automate routine and repetitive tasks like payment processing, incident management, simple query management, facilities and administrative duties through attended or unattended bots.
Automation Anywhere, UiPath, Blue Prism are some of the leading organisations providing the technology platforms.
Data analytics: Today, BPOs use AI&ML powered speech and text analytics platforms like Observe.AI, Verint, Nice, Call Miner to run interaction analytics of 100% of the contacts. The analytics challenge is to mine data from interaction analytics, marketing, customer life cycle data to derive actionable insights. Today, most, if not all, BPOs use data visualisation tools like Tableau, PowerBi to power the continuous improvement insights.
With simpler queries being dealt with through self-service, agents generally must handle more complex queries – like voice sales, retention, expert decision-making and problem-solving. Today, re-skilling the frontline agents to address skill gaps in the changing landscape is the first priority for all HR managers as far as talent management is concerned.
One of the biggest challenges for a BPO frontline agent is the multiple screens they have to access to address a query. To address this issue, among others, clients look to BPO partners to create and suggest workflow management solutions.
Interaction wrappers like Novelvox and workflow management tools like Zendesk are enabling seamless omni-channel solutions. These are critical in crisis situations like COVID-19, when rapid deployment of work from home (WFH) along with work from office (WFO) is the new normal to ensure continuity of service.
In summary, for the BPO in the 2020s, CX is number one. And harnessing data, designing seamless processes, deploying automation and AI when required is the way to get there.
Satish Varanasi is a seasoned BPO professional, with strong commercial acumen and a successful track record of delivering solutions to clients. He has demonstrated capabilities in revenue generation, team leadership, and project management. He is also adept at analysing and meeting customer needs, creating business plans and implementing technology tools to transform and improve businesses.
He is currently employed with CCI South Africa as Chief Commercial Officer and has previously worked Reliance Jio Infocomm, Serco Global Services, Intelenet Global Services, Teletech India and Bharti Airtel.
He has a master’s degree in management from University of Pune and has completed an Executive Program from INSEAD.