Customer experience is a critical and non-negotiable factor for 73% of consumers when making decisions to purchase or patronize a product or service.
This is according to the latest Consumer Intelligence Series by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which surveyed 11,000 market respondents from 11 countries in Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America, as well as some 4,000 Americans from the Baby Boomers to the Gen Z age groups.
Providing customers with a great experience is a guarantee that they will buy more, share their experience and stay loyal to your business.
Even if a business has invested much in newer technologies and innovative products but without giving attention to enhancing customer experience outcomes, it will just be a waste of time, money, and resources.
There are companies that boast about their products or service, but have failed to focus on the aspects of customer service that are most meaningful to the market – most of them have seen little or even no growth at all.
Shifting market trend: New customer behavior
Market behavior has changed over the years and with the introduction of evolving technologies, customers have become smarter. The consumer market has become more demanding and expects much more than just the product or the brand.
Based on the PWC report, the survey respondents from across the world have identified the key ingredients to achieving a great customer experience- convenience, speed, consistency, friendliness, and – one which stood out the best – human touch.
Yes, in this day and age of automated technology, the human touch is still a critical factor in achieving a great customer experience. It is one that is focused on creating real connections and leveraging on technology in order to make brands more relevant to the market.
A study by business strategy firm Bain and Company revealed that engaging with customers equals 40% more revenue per person.
Another study by retail market analyst McKinsey and Company suggested that maximizing satisfaction with customer journeys was found to increase customer satisfaction by 20%, boost revenues by up to 15% and lower cost of serving customers by as much as 20%.
Starting from 2014, 74% of consumers have spent more on purchasing products and services as a result of good customer service, according to the Global Customer Service Barometer by American Express.
A secret to great customer service: Call Center Services
Call centers are one of the most effective and vital resources in customer service because it not only connects business and its customers, it gives a human face to your brand.
This is where call centers come in and the majority of companies with customer service channels are outsourcing their call center services for very practical and strategic reasons.
Focus on core functions of a business
Businesses or organizations that outsource call center services have been found to benefit from this process as they are able to focus on their core business functions.
Round the clock customer service
Outsourcing can guarantee customers with available support and service channels 24/7, without spending on personnel overtime as the business process outsourcing company provides compensation and premiums to customer service representatives.
Optimal focus on customer service
Call center service outsourcing providers are the experts in their field. This is mainly because their work is focused mainly on how to operate a customer service program and channel their investments in core competencies for the service they provide. A business can largely benefit from the customer service expertise of BPO’s whose main goal is to provide meaningful customer experience.
Greatly reduce operating, staffing, and training expenditures
Call center operations can be very expensive, considering the costs of maintaining staff on your payroll, employee benefits, social security contributions, taxes, health care and other mandatory premiums. You also pay more for training and development, which can be costly especially with employee turnover and hiring new ones to fill the vacated posts.
Avoids costly capital expenditures
Acquiring facilities and equipment for a call center can be very expensive. By outsourcing call center service operations, businesses are no longer burdened by the costs of facilities and equipment as these are shouldered by the service provider.
Boosts customer satisfaction while improving efficiency and productivity
Customer service response times are greatly reduced, thereby increasing customer satisfaction levels. As a result, customer issue resolution becomes more efficient and enhances productivity by eliminating backlogs.
Limit investment in technology
Outsourcing takes responsibility for investing in technology, which can be very prohibitive in terms of cost and the demand for keeping up with it. It lets your business stay on top of current and cutting-edge technologies without burning a hole in your pocket.
In short, there’s more to outsourced call center services than just cutting costs and savings, it adds value to increasing efficiency, getting in touch with customers faster, optimizing workforce flexibility and having access to professionally-trained and highly-qualified experts.
Key qualities to look for in a call center
There are a lot of BPO companies offering call center services however, it is important to know your options especially when you are searching for the provider that could suit your business best.
Remember that each company is unique in terms of processes, goals, and challenges. This is also the same as the BPO companies that offer call center service.
However, it is equally important to develop your strategies based on the benefits that you get out of your outsourced services and finding the right one can help you edge out your competition.
Here are important qualities to look for in call center service provider based in numerous field and industry studies to maximize your company’s customer service programs.
A broad range of communication options
Customers demand immediate service at any time and from any location, especially through communication channels that are available and convenient for them.
Technology has allowed call centers to provide multi-channel communication to cater to customers and also manage call volumes. However, there will always be peak times when getting in touch with a customer service agent becomes a challenge and ultimately create a negative impact on customer experience.
There are call center service providers that have addressed this problem by establishing Omni channel communication platforms to direct caller traffic. This has been proven to improve customer satisfaction levels and avoid wait times that could result in abandoned calls negatively impacting your business and brand reputation.
It is critical to find a call center that can fully deliver specialized customer experiences that become the extension of your professional identity and brand. These providers give importance to cultural identity and values, which are then cascaded down to the call center agents as they carry the professional image of the business they represent.
As you go to the vetting process of finding your ideal BPO partner, it is important to exert due diligence in understanding their training process and strategies to ensure that they are aligned with your company’s thrusts and goals.
High-Quality IT Hardware and Software Solutions
Connectivity is a key factor in any call center environment, particularly in all operational and administrative functions.
With clients who are mostly located overseas, they count on technology to monitor operations and communicate at any given moment with local management.
A call center needs to have high-quality IT solutions and support to ensure that the business operates seamlessly because operations would cease to exist without Internet technology. This becomes a primary consideration for call center operations.
BPO providers use the most up-to-date technology resources in their services, and continually update their systems to offer the most cutting-edge service to clients. It needs to stay on top and at par with global standards.
Service competencies and call statistics
One indicator of a reliable call center is its capability of handling call volumes. This determines the capability of a service provider to cater to the client’s business needs.
The call center must be able to competently track and measure call statistics such as average ring time which should ideally be less than 20 seconds, the average speed of answer should be less than 30 seconds, abandoned calls and handle time, among others.
When a call center gets abandoned calls due to long wait times, takes too long to answer a call, or continually place customers on long hold intervals, this could negatively impact a client’s business.
Professional and highly-trained customer service representatives
One of the primary bargaining chips of most, if not all, call centers are their highly-trained representatives. What sets leading call center service providers apart from the competition are agents who possess the ability to provide first call resolution (FCR), speak multiple languages, and handle large call volumes when necessary, just to name a few.
These call center companies provide value by giving attention to key performance indicators and are able to plan, as well as execute consistent improvement of service levels. These providers find true value in developing their agents by being able to put in place mechanisms to improve performance, such as quality assurance teams monitoring calls to identify coaching opportunities and implement consistent guidelines aimed at fostering agent advancement.
Call center agents are the frontliners of the company and play crucial roles for lead generation to close sales, clients to continue investing in the call center, and business operations to run smoothly. They should be the call center’s number one investment and competently trained in customer service skills, continuously monitored, managed and rewarded for good performance.
State-of-the-art Reporting and Analytics Capabilities
Performance tracking is a vital process in every call center and one unique service offered by advanced call centers is sophisticated reporting and data analytics, which is on top of the services they provide.
These providers employ highly trained reports analysts and specialists who evaluate key performance indicators (KPIs) from raw data to indicate if they are meeting the quantifiable performance goals laid out in the service level agreement (SLA).
The ideal call center companies will go an extra mile to meet with clients on a regular basis to discuss emerging trends and proactively offer solutions to improve performance levels and promote growth.
Professional standing and business reputation
You stand to benefit from a call center company with a proven track record of providing results rather than just guarantees. Remember that the call center you hire will become the face of your business and must be professionally equipped to represent your brand.
The Philippines: Destination of Choice
To date, the Philippines has become a home to many international BPO companies from around the world.
In fact, it has become one of the fastest-growing BPO destinations in recent years due to the following reasons;
English is a commonly spoken language
English is one of the two main languages commonly used in the Philippines.
The 2013 Business English Index (BEI) ranked the Philippines on top for two consecutive years with a score of 7.95, next to Norway with 7.06, and the Netherlands with 7.03. The BEI assessment is designed to quantify and measure English competency in the workplace. A BEI score of 1.0 indicates the ability of people to communicate and read-only through simple English statements, while a score of 10.0 indicates equivalency with native English speakers.
Professional and highly-skilled talents
Philippine call center agents are highly familiar with Western business concepts and practices, considering that the education system was patterned from the US after colonizing it during the late 1800’s.
Call center companies find it easy to invest in professional training for Philippine call center agents are well-adapted to the cultural nuances of the West.
The availability of advanced technologies in the Philippines has allowed access to diverse learning platforms to train call center agents and keep them up-to-date.
Even while most clients a located half a world away, Philippine call centers have no problem matching the call center workforce with the different time zones. Scheduling is never an issue with Philippine call centers as agents are willing to earn night premiums, overtime pay, and holiday premiums.
Staffing requirements are never an issue to meet service level requirements and ensure clients of business continuity especially during peak business periods in different countries.
Excellent work ethic
Many companies that have outsourced to the Philippines can attest to the hard-working and dedicated nature of Filipinos. Filipino call center agents have excellent work ethic and service-oriented mindset.
Philippine call center agents value integrity, honesty, diligence, resilience and are known to generally have positive work attitudes, which is why aside from BPO services a lot of Filipinos thrive in many countries and are preferred by a lot of foreign employers.
Most, if not all BPO companies that have established outsourcing ventures in the Philippines enjoy significantly lower wage rates compared to North American and European countries.
The average monthly salary of entry-level call center agents ranges from $400 to $600 in major metropolitan areas such as Metro Manila, Makati, Bonifacio Global City, Ortigas, Taguig, Cebu, and Davao.
The rate goes down further between $300 and $500 a month in highly-urbanized areas such as Bacolod, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro and Dumaguete Cities.
Real estate infrastructure and facilities for call centers are very affordable in the Philippines, which is by far among the most economical in terms of dollar cost per square meter for leasing space.
The BPO industry in the Philippines has become one of the major economic pillars and main revenue sources in the country. The government acknowledges the growth of the industry and have provided strong support and infrastructure options for BPOs. Some of which are;
- Established partnerships with colleges and universities in the country to create BPO-specific curricula to prepare the future of the BPO workforce.
- Establishment of local government-funded fully-equipped techno-hubs in major locations around the country to cater to BPO investors willing to set up shop in the Philippines.
- A government-subsidized voucher system from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) as funding support for call center training.
- Tax holidays and other incentives to support foreign investment and partnering with local counterparts.
- The establishment of nation-wide Information and Communications Technology Councils to provide support channels to BPO’s and enable representation with different industries in the country.