Mon, March 03, 2014
Is it time to outsource your customer service? Dino Forte provides 5 reasons why in-house departments are failing to adapt to changing consumer habits
According to Forrester Research online sales will increase by at least 10% annually through to 2015, Whilst this trend has led many brands to re-think how they can compete against or develop their on-line presence to maintain sales, it may also be time for organisations to re-evaluate their customer service?
In the face of rising ecommerce, globalisation and social media, here’s 5 reasons why many in-house departments could be falling behind the times and losing out on both customers and potential revenues.
with 4 out of 5 consumers more inclined to buy a brand’s products more often after being exposed to the company’s messages over social media, companies ignore this media at their peril.
Similarly, with developing channels such as web-chat and mobile eclipsing more traditional voice-based communication, old-fashioned departments focused on phone-based interaction may need to be re-trained to interact with customers that wish to converse on alternative platforms. These often require different expertise such as stronger written skills or the ability to multi-task across various channels simultaneously. Without becoming â€˜sociableâ€™, youâ€™re at risk of alienating your brand from a party of countless conversations that will boost both loyalty and sales.
Stuck in a single time-zone
Ever wondered why many adverts these days are visual rather than language-based? Well, part of the reason is that brands now transcend geographical boundaries, with products and services being sold across multiple continents around the clock. Consumers expect a response whenever they choose to shop. If your customer service department is just 9 to 5, then todayâ€™s impatient customers may look elsewhere. You could also be sacrificing additional profits too. For example JML , a world leader in retail screen promotions and TV home shopping that sells to over 80 countries worldwide uses outsourcing to extend its hours 24/7, resulting in a 15-20% uplift in sales, many of which come via the customer services through up-selling.
Research published by analyst ContactBabel, reveals that 37% of UK contact centres now offer an on-line chat facility, suggesting that more organisations are introducing new platforms to match the multi-channel preferences of the millennial generation. As service becomes more complex and sophisticated, the challenge for customer-facing businesses is whether they have the skills and the technology to answer requests in a timely manner. Take managing emails for example. If you are still using standard Outlook programmes to handle large volumes of responses, then itâ€™s likely to be woefully slow. Instead you need the ability to escalate more urgent requests as todayâ€™s consumers want to hear back almost immediately and any delay will result in them going elsewhere.
With the right technology and training, staff can work across multiple mediums at once and with intelligent MI you can instantly measure how new ways of communicating with customers can deliver additional sales, whether itâ€™s an increase in conversions, upsells or frequency of purchases.
No one at the checkout
Nearly three quarters of shopping carts are left abandoned in virtual aisles and Experian reports that UK e-tailers lose over Â£1bn from frustrated buyers that fail to check-out. If a customer is ordering over the phone, an advisor can answer any queries, but on-line there is often no one manning the tills. However the number of failed transactions can be lowered by using tools such as web chat or even SMS to support a customer at this vital stage.
Service is still a Cost Centre
If you still regard your customer services division as a â€˜cost centreâ€™ that primarily deals with support, returns or complaints, then you could be missing out on untapped revenues. According to the ICS (Institute of Customer Service) 63 per cent of people who have a good customer experience with a member of staff would purchase again from the same organisation, whilst 69 per cent of people who have had a good customer experience with a member of staff recommended that organisation to others. Every customer touch-point should be treated as an opportunity to create value, whether immediately in the form of an â€˜up-sellâ€™ or â€˜cross-sellâ€™ or in long-term loyalty by generating good-will. By reassessing your KPIs and re-training staff to reflect this methodology you can quickly transform what was a cost centre into profit centre.
For those internal departments that need to evolve but canâ€™t justify the extra investment in technology and re-training, then outsourcing is a cost-effective way to turn service into sales.
Author: Dino Forte is MD, entrepreneur and founder of outsourced contact centre, Ventrica (www.ventrica.co.uk) that provides multi-channel customer services for leading brands such as UGG Australia, Hawes & Curtis, NJOY and JML.