How to Ensure an Excellent Customer Experience when Outsourcing Customer Service
Remember the last time you went shopping at the supermarket. It was probably a fairly good experience, since everything was neatly arranged in the usual sections for you to find what you needed and pay without hassle (perhaps even at a self-checkout lane).
Contrast that with the last time you had to install or fix a problem with your TV/Internet service provider. Chances are it wasn’t a smooth and easy journey.
It’s not surprising though, because a 2018 survey by the Temkin Group of 10,000 U.S. consumers ranked supermarket chains as the industry providing the best customer experience and TV/Internet companies as the worst.
The survey evaluated experiences in three areas:
- Success — Can you do what you want to do?
- Effort — How easy is it to work with the company?
- Emotion — How do you feel about the interactions?
Measuring these aspects can give you a good idea about your company’s customer experience (CX). CX is the process of positively impacting your customers at every interaction with your brand, making them feel satisfied at the end of the whole experience.
It’s not just about the end result (the TV company may fix your problem in the end) but about the entire customer journey.
This is not easy to measure though, as a classic survey showed that 80% of CEOs thought their companies provided a great CX but only 8% of their customers agreed.
But a great CX is critical to the sustained growth of your business -- it leads to customer loyalty (less churn), more referrals and better reviews. In fact, 86% of consumers will pay more for a better customer experience, while 89% will switch to a competitor after a bad customer experience.
In this article, I’ll explain some ways to measure CX, especially in customer service, and how to ensure a seamless experience for your customers when working with an outsourcing company.
How to Measure CX
Customers come into contact with your brand (touchpoints) through an employee, a marketing message or your actual product or service. This happens through multiple channels, such as social media, your website or blog, ads or emails.
On a deeper level, CX is also measured by the interactions customers have with your sales reps or support team, whether by email, phone or in person.
Various customer success tools, such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and churn rate, allow you to measure customer satisfaction.
An NPS survey asks customers how likely they are to recommend your business to someone else. Responses range from 0 (very unlikely) to 10 (very likely). Respondents are grouped as follows:
- Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth.
- Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
- Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.
According to Temkin, compared with the detractors, promoters are 4.2x more likely to buy again, 5.6x more likely to forgive a company after a mistake and 7.2x more likely to try a new offering.
The churn rate is simply the amount of customers who cut ties with you over a period of time. For example, take the number of customers that you lost last quarter and divide that by the number of customers that you started with last quarter. The resulting percentage is your churn rate. If you started last quarter with 1,000 customers and lost 30 over the course of the quarter, the churn rate then is 3%.
You must identify the reasons why your customers churn and what you can do about it.
Finally, an additional way of measuring CX is by analyzing customer support ticket trends. If you spot certain issues coming up over and over, you’ll know there’s a problem in your customer journey that you’ll have to address.
Customer Experience and Customer Service
As you may have guessed by now, customer service and customer support are part of the overall customer experience -- and a crucial one.
What makes a good CX in customer service and support? Let’s look at what B2B and B2C customers actually say, according to different surveys.
Customers want consistency and omnichannel service
- 9 in 10 consumers want absolute omnichannel service – they expect a seamless experience when moving from one communication method to another, such as phone to text or chat to phone. (NICE inContact, 2018)
- 72% blamed their bad customer service interaction on having to explain their problem to multiple people. (Zendesk, 2013)
Customers want both chatbots and humans
- 63% of customers are happy to be served by a chatbot, if there is an option to escalate the conversation to a human. (Forrester, 2018)
- 90% of customers prefer to talk to a live service agent over a chatbot. (NICE inContact, 2018)
- 76% of customers want human contact to remain part of customer service. (Forrester, 2018)
Customers want speed
- 50% of consumers give a brand only one week to respond to a question before they stop doing business with them. (Oracle, 2010)
- 73% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service. (Forrester, 2016)
- 77% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent and consumers will wait on hold for an average of 11 minutes before hanging up. (RightNow, 2010)
- 69% attributed their good customer service experience to quick resolution of their problem. (Zendesk, 2013)
Customers want personalization in their interactions with customer service
- 81% of consumers say that getting a satisfactory answer is a very important part of servicing satisfaction, and 74% want a knowledgeable professional. But nearly half also say that personalized service (47%) and appreciation for them as a customer (45%) are very important in providing excellent care. (AmericanExpress, 2017)
- Nine out of 10 consumers value when a business knows their account history and current activities with that company, and seven out of 10 value having the same representative or agent help them each time they interact with the company. (Genesys, 2017)
Ensuring an Excellent CX with an Outsourced Team
There are many reasons to outsource customer service and support such as saving time and costs, scaling rapidly in new markets and access to a larger talent pool. But the outsourcing company must align with the client’s culture and CX strategy to avoid churn.
Typically, companies would set target KPIs for the outsourcing partner to hit, including average handle time (AHT), average speed of answer (ASA) and abandon rate (ABN). However, focusing only on those KPIs won’t ensure a great customer experience.
Set a vision for a customer-centric behavior, where the customer service reps prioritize customer needs and satisfaction over efficiency.
Many companies fail to do this because managers must justify outsourcing customer service with quantitative metrics, proving to the executives and the finance department that it actually brings substantial savings to the company. Thus, they don’t place enough emphasis on caring for the customer and building brand loyalty.
If you currently are (or thinking about ) outsourcing all or part of your customer service and support operations, take into account the following tips to ensure an excellent customer experience.
Training and onboarding
The Customer Support Trainer should role play with reps before they interact with customers, always with CX in mind. For example, the trainer should address:
- The best practices for each of the customer support channels the team will be using (phone, chat, email, etc.)
- CRM training and how to input customer information so future communications with support will be seamless
- How to develop people skills and how to handle difficult customers
Your company should have a structured onboarding process for the outsource customer support team, where they not only learn about your product or service, but also about your values and your clients.
When your outsourced partner engages with customers on your behalf, they’re serving as your front line team. The customer doesn’t see a difference – they just know the person they’re communicating with represents your company. That’s why you must ensure that your partner’s values and culture align with yours, especially when offshoring, where you might have reps from cultures and countries far different than your customers’ own culture.
Furthermore, make the outsourced reps feel as part of your team, so they will care about your brand and thus about your customers.
Communication with the remote team
Your outsourced team should act as an extension of your in-house staff, hence they should be kept in the loop about information relevant to their work. Strive for excellent two-way communication, having ongoing discussions about the things that are working, the things that must be improved, areas where the team needs more training and important feedback from the customers to improve CX.
Quality analysis and feedback
At CloudTask, we assign a Quality Assurance Analyst (or QA for short) to make sure processes are being followed, continuously monitoring the quality of tone and effectiveness of resolutions on calls, grammar on emails and best practices on other channels such as chat and social media.
Without a quality analyst in your team you may have serious problems in your customer experience and never find out. So make sure there’s a QA in your outsourced team.
Make CX a Priority Across Your Organization
A common mistake is to measure customer satisfaction at different touchpoints or interactions without looking at the big picture.
A customer may have a satisfactory interaction with a Customer Service Representative, but still may not feel happy about your brand because of some other factors.
When you make CX a priority in your company, you will manage the complete buyer journey and not just particular touchpoints. For example, you won’t focus only on how a customer support call was resolved, but also seek to address the root cause of the call and make sure the feedback reaches the appropriate department so improvements are made.