Why outsourcing customers are terminating their call center deals

No longer content with simply lower costs, call center outsourcing buyers are looking for providers to deliver emerging technology and improved business outcomes as well.

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Again, this is easier said than done: the study found that a lack of communication is one of the biggest complaints among buyers. [However], enabling a service provider to truly collaborate with buyers requires a heightened level of two-way communication, which goes far beyond simple reporting on metrics.

CIO.com: What are the biggest factors impacting the value that CCO deals deliver?

Puritt: Our research with Everest Group identified six key factors impacting outsourcing relationship value including communication, executive relationship building, customer experience innovation, employee engagement, service quality and aligning business objectives. I’ve already discussed the critical importance of communication. The next biggest factor, in my view, is frontline engagement. According to human capital consulting firm Aon Hewitt, the financial implications of an engaged workforce are significant. Their studies have found that a five percent increase in employee engagement is linked to a three percent increase in revenue growth in the subsequent year. In the CCO industry—which is plagued by high attrition—this correlation is eye-opening.

CIO.com: What steps can buyer and service provider take to foster increased engagement?

Puritt: The first step is to ensure that both parties have a shared set of values that underpin their business philosophy. For example, is the buyer interested in avoiding costs and nothing more? Similarly, is the service provider’s value proposition “your mess for less?” If so, then they may have something in common. But if the buyer is looking for a brand ambassador and long-term value, they need to find a service provider that is willing and able to think, act and invest for the long term as well.

Next, they need to establish a relationship framework that targets mutually beneficial outcomes. That framework starts with the basics: defining a governance model that supports the working partnership and ensures accountability from the operational level to the executive level. And while the governance model lays the foundation of a healthy relationship, that relationship needs to be nurtured on an ongoing basis. That means building trust via regular ‘health checks’ to discuss current program status, identify issues and evaluate the potential for innovation. Innovation projects are often considered beyond the scope of the existing engagement and are not planned for at the time of contracting. Making innovation an agenda item ensures that it remains a priority in the partnership.

Of course, any engaged buyer/service provider relationship has employee engagement at its core. Engaged, tenured agents mean more happy and satisfied customers, which in turn, means more value to the buyer. Employee engagement programs, along with the ability to capture agent feedback, are essential so that outsourced agents feel and act like they are part of the buyer’s organization and best represent the buyer’s brand.  

CIO: How can customers measure the engagement level of their CCO relationship?

Puritt: There are clear signs that the relationship is on solid ground. With increased comfort and understanding comes a [greater] focus on business outcomes rather than just the operational ones. When this happens, traditional SLAs are either supplemented or changed to include more business-outcome oriented objectives.

For example, while efficiency and effectiveness metrics (like agent utilization, average handle time, or first contact resolution) continue to be most prevalent, engaged outsourcing partnerships are likely to use of business-outcome related metrics such as sales conversions, customer satisfaction, likelihood to recommend, or net promoter scores.

CIO.com: What kind of benefits have you seen these more evolved relationships deliver to CCO customers?

Puritt: In more mature and engaged relationships, service providers have been able to deliver radical innovation improving business outcomes. When we focused on innovative ways to improve one of our client’s employee engagement programs within our centers, agent engagement increased by 12 percent, attrition fell by 7 percent, customer satisfaction increased by 14 percent, and revenue increased by 7 percent—all in the span of one year.

In another example, when we examined our client’s quality assurance program [for] frontline agents, we found that their check-the-box auditing approach did little to motivate and strengthen the customer service attributes of the frontline. We proposed more one-on-one, real-time coaching. Not only did agent engagement scores increase because agents felt that the client cared and was investing in their success, but customer satisfaction also increased by more than 20 percent—all in less than five months. This also worked because the buyer was willing to invest in a new, more innovative, QA model.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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