What to consider when outsourcing video chat and SMS customer support
September 1, 2016
The rise of mobile devices, along with a plethora of communication platforms like Skype, Facebook Messenger and SMS, keep us in touch with others like never before.
According to research company Forrester, Americans send six billion texts every day, and 900 million people — about 12 percent of the world’s population — use Facebook Messenger every month.
This trend has transformed the customer service industry. Businesses are increasingly expected to offer support by way of these emerging channels — with 52 percent of people saying they’d prefer texting as a customer service option and 36 percent wanting to use live video for support.
The meteoric rise of video chat and SMS support
The reason texting and video chat have become so powerful comes down to a matter of lifestyle, as well as customers’ comfort level with technology, says Amritpal Dhangal, managing director of London-based Tagove, a live chat software company. Customers want support to blend into where they’re already spending their time: on their phones.
Many don’t want to go through automated systems before talking to a human, or sacrifice 30 minutes of their evening to a toll-free number. They want the same immediate response of a video chat, or the convenient asynchronous experience of texting, that they have in their personal lives. What customers increasingly want, as Dhangal puts it, is for support to “be there, where they are.”
Bringing support to where customers already spend their time offers great benefits to customers and companies. TextUs is a text-messaging platform that also specializes in recruitment and staffing. Its CEO, Ted Guggenheim, says he’s seen SMS become increasingly ubiquitous over the last five years with no signs of slowing down, making it a great customer support tool. “Text messaging — which has a 97 percent read rate and people typically respond within three minutes or less — became a very effective tool, ” says Guggenheim.
Meanwhile, a 2015 report by technology research firm Gartner anticipates that 100 of the 500 biggest companies in the world are planning to offer live video chat by 2018. And that migration recently got a boost, with Facebook announcing at its F8 developer conference in April that it would offer new tools for Messenger so companies can interact with its 900 million monthly users. Their ‘Business on Messenger’ application will enable companies to use the platform to send order confirmations, shipping statuses and delivery notices to customers.
But before your company adds live video chat, Facebook Messenger or SMS to a ‘Support’ or ‘Contact Us’ webpage, there are a few key things to consider.
In-house or outsourcing for SMS and video chat?
When adopting any kind of customer service, an inevitable question is, “Should we take this on in-house, or use a contact center outsourcing company?” Like many business decisions, the answer comes down to money and resources.
Because these new emerging channels are very different and even disruptive, adoption won’t necessarily be an easy process, says Bernhard Hauser, CEO of mobile-messaging customer service provider Oratio.
“If you want to give a new channel a try, you [have to] allocate resources to it,” he says. This means time, money and energy spent on acquiring new technologies and training in-house agents — and that’s not to say anything of the need to trial-run the new customer support options and work out any kinks. All of that can be both costly and prolonged.
Looking to an outside provider that already have the technology for new customer support channels, as well as agents familiar with it, may be a good option for some companies. Partnering can make your new operation more agile, efficient and relevant.
New customer support channels means new rules for outsourcing
However, outsourcing a customer support channel doesn’t absolve you from making some crucial decisions, many of which require an intimate knowledge of your customers’ needs, wants and habits. A company should always be working to understand its customers — but it’s especially critical if you’re looking to outsource your emerging channel support.
For example, do you find the majority of your customers are from outside of North America? Then mobile messenger platforms may be your best option given the immense popularity of apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat internationally.
Something else to consider when outsourcing emerging channel support – how your company will be represented. Cultural alignment has always been a concern when a business outsources customer support, but new channels bring different dynamics into the equation. Live video chat, for instance, means customers will actually be able to see agents. This means companies have to think about what wardrobe, backdrops and personal skills best reflect their company’s values.
The same goes for text-based options like SMS and Facebook Messenger. Text can often be misinterpreted, so setting guidelines for tone is critical to reduce the perception of an sarcasm or annoyance in an interaction.
Determining speed of service for new support channels
As with all traditional customer service channels, businesses need to consider the speed of service they want a contact center to deliver for SMS and video chat.
“The quicker the better, but it’s not as time critical as it is when you are offering a 1-800 customer service on the phone,” says Hauser. Taking as long as an hour to reply to a text can still be seen as acceptable. Video, on the other hand, is another story; there, customers like instant and quick service. And in both cases, you must work with the contact center to clearly communicate and design the style of support they’ll deliver.
In conjunction with speed of service, businesses also need to consider agent allocation. The benefit of text or mobile messaging support is that an agent can interact with several customers at the same time, but agents can only handle one video chat at a time.
Determining how to best allocate agents to these support channels at the very start of the outsourcing partnership will better manage expectations and ensure customer satisfaction remains high.
Consider the future of emerging channels
It’s unlikely that SMS, Facebook Messenger and live video chat are going to replace email or voice as customer service channels, but they are positioned to become peers of the most established channels, and even preferred by some demographic segments.
In many industries, introducing these support platforms shouldn’t be a question of if, but of when and how. After all, the number of customers becoming comfortable with this type of technology is broadening across many demographics every day — and their definition of good customer service is changing along with it.
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“There are several reasons why Romania is well placed in terms of call center services. Among these are excellent language skills, strong knowledge in IT and cultural proximity to Western Europe,” said Gregoire Vigroux, TELUS International Sales & Marketing Director Europe, in an interview for Manager.ro.
Generation Y world population (ages 14-34) is just over 2.4 billion people. By 2017, Generation Y will have more spending power than any other generation. So how do you attract Generation Y to come work for you? And, once they are employed, how do you get them to stay working with you for the long haul.
No doubt that Generation Y is changing the business landscape. By 2030 Millennials will be roughly 75% of the global workforce. The sheer size of this demographic segment will force organizations to re-think many of their policies.
Generation Y, those born between 1980 and 2000, are seen as a game-changing force both as employees and as consumers. Why is that? • First, as employees Generation Y accounts to a huge segment of today’s workforce. • Second as customers Generation Y is heading towards their peak earning years, controlling and influencing a lot of spending.
While every contact center focuses on the costs associated with attrition, it is much harder to assess the revenue impact of attrition. Assessment of revenue impact reveals significant leakages linked to attrition. These are driven by efficient gaps between the existing customer service representative (CSR) and the replacement CSR.
Everest Group conducted a study with the purpose of assessing the business impacts of contact center attrition by using a methodology which breaks down the impact of attrition to the level of the individual contact center customer service representative, showing how the departure of a given individual generates a series of cost and revenue associated outcomes.
Attrition is considered a leading indicator of the health of contact center operations. The impact of attrition rates on business outcomes is a growing priority for business leaders looking to utilize the contact center to drive new business growth.
Millennials have unique needs for social collaboration and ongoing feedback regarding their personal and professional development. It’s not just about earning a paycheck. It’s about capturing their hearts and minds via a culture that mirrors their personal values, wants and beliefs.
What are the tendencies defining the future of the BPO industry? According to Kevin Bottoms, VP Business Development at TELUS International, five trends are emerging as key factors defining the BPO industry in the next decade.
Now BPO providers have to go beyond client’s expectations in order to stay competitive. The DNA of the emerging model for the BPO industry is based on the value of a caring culture. Progressive BPOs are increasingly mobilizing employees to volunteer in their communities by supporting basic needs.
An online sales chat interaction should seem like a conversation. Agents need to know how, and be trained to construct a conversation flow within the chat environment.
In order to identify the qualitative metrics of an ideal online sales chat session our colleagues from TELUS International conducted a study on six Fortune 500 companies. Several best practices emerged improving the chat channel and creating an ideal customer experience.
Millennial employees, between the ages of 22 and 33 years old, typically make up over 80 percent of the workforce at customer service organizations. Therefore, progressive customer service organizations are already making changes to the way they interact with this new generation.
CallPoint powered by TELUS was honored with the prestigious acknowledgement for Price Social Responsibility by the French-Romanian chamber of commerce (CCIFER) on its annual gala on November 29 in Bucharest, Romania. It is an honor for us to be given this recognition by one of the most important business associations in Romania.
In online sales chat agent skills, chat system features, and communications style all contribute to the total customer experience. Given that agent skills may be a leading factor in effective online sales chat, there are a number of opportunities for improving the customer experience.
A key part of TELUS International’s global operations are based in the Philippines, in the city of Manila. Like everyone else around the world, we have been devastated by the news of Typhoon Haiyan, which caused unprecedented destruction in many parts of the Philippines island chain.
TELUS International Europe is adding an incredible new twist to its work environment. Across its offices in Bulgaria and Romania, TELUS International Europe will be broadcasting its own TV channel, TELUS International Europe TV, on the 42-inch HD screens located in the offices’ open and relaxation spaces.
Companies from among all industries and across the size spectrum have proven many times with their experience the value of business process outsourcing (BPO). Still, there are debates regarding the perceived benefits and concerns surrounding outsourcing. Not all of the commonly discussed concerns or perceived disadvantages, however, are founded on direct experience and truth.
Once committed to social care, organizations often struggle with handling volume. The magnitude of conversations can seem overwhelming, but in reality, not all social conversations require a response.
TELUS International Vice-President of Information Technology, Michael Ringman, recently shared his views with Outsource UK Magazine on the evolution and impact of IT in the call center. In the interview, Ringman discusses how global outsourcing trends impact individual call centers.
Social customer service is rapidly becoming the new, critical channel to drive satisfaction and loyalty. Our colleagues from TELUS International call this activity “social care” and it’s defined as the efforts employees make through social media to care for customers. In this post we offer you some of the social care best practices of Apple, HP and Best Buy.
Net Promoter Score (NPS), a customer loyalty metric developed in 2003 by Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company and Satmetrix, is going to save the world. At least that’s how some view it. Ever since its inception, NPS has become the darling of executive management teams all over, and, as such, many organizations now use NPS as their primary Customer Satisfaction (C-Sat) measurement tool.
Last month, TELUS International President Jeffrey Puritt sat down with Economy.bg Magazine to discuss the company’s expansion into Eastern Europe. Jeff also shared his thoughts on the future of outsourcing, and its impact on countries like Bulgaria and Romania.
A common trend among organizations nowadays is working with a number of service providers in order to address their contact center requirements. The main reasons in support of this practice are the access to scale and capabilities including languages and geographic market access, competitive tension, flexibility, and risk management.
It’s difficult to deliver exceptional customer experiences when the person doing the delivering is dying inside and dreaming of an escape.
When it comes to managing staffing levels, there are some things you know (like holidays and back to school volume spikes) and some things you just don’t. For the former, solid workforce management practices with clear goals can keep things on track.
Over the years, workforce management has become very sophisticated. As a result, today’s RFPs often require providers to detail their workforce management processes and how call volume changes are handled.
Let’s face it. Attrition is a big issue for call centers – and perhaps even more so for outsourced call center providers.
The world is changing faster than ever before as the population has been growing exponentially and the impact of our actions is felt not only stronger, but also in more and various ways. Populations’ footprint and irreversible impact has various implications for businesses in terms of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies as businesses possess not only the human, but also financial capital to be at the forefront of initiating and delivering socially responsible activities.
As the link between contact center attrition rates and the effectiveness of contact center outsourcing services is gradually becoming stronger contact center outsourcing (CCO) have evolved their thinking on contact center operations.
There are many factors to consider when selecting a country and city for your contact center operations. We have identified characteristics that fit into four groups; each group is important to evaluate when selecting your outsourcing partner and location to do business.
Social customer service is rapidly becoming the new, critical channel to drive satisfaction and loyalty. Almost all organizations, however, struggle with measuring the impact of social customer service on important business metrics. In this post we will point your attention to a framework of 8 metrics measuring the effectiveness of your social care program.
Attrition rates continue to be a key operational metric for contact centers. As the CCO (contact center outsourcing) market continues to evolve, the set of factors driving attrition continues to change as well.
Building strategic customer relationships in the BPO industry, particularly with fast-growing clients, requires having lots of tools in your toolkit.