Teleperformance wins two major European awards! #TeamWorkWins

The Teleperformance EMEA team were out in force at the European Outsourcing Association awards last night in London. This is one of the biggest events in the European outsourcing calendar and they had been shortlisted for three European awards.

Earlier in the day, the UK National Outsourcing Association had held their annual symposium and the UK and I had spoken about the impact of social media on customer service today. There were some great questions from the floor about how this development of multiple channels is changing the industry today – we could have just kept the Q&A going for another hour!

It was a great day at the symposium and made even better at the EOA award ceremony in the evening because Teleperformance EMEA won two of the awards they were shortlisted for! And not just two minor awards either, we were crowned as the European Outsourcing Service Provider of the Year and also got the Award for Innovation in Pan-European Outsourcing for the work at our Customer Experience Lab in Portugal.

That’s quite an achievement – the best partner company and the most innovative too. No wonder the hashtag #TeamWorkWins was circulating amongst the Teleperformance team on Twitter last night!

I am really proud of the teams here in the UK and across Europe – the hashtag was right. It’s because of our entire team that we have won these awards and I’d like to extend thanks to every team member who helps to make Teleperformance not just the best partner to work with, but the most forward-thinking and innovative too.

Teamwork

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New channels are changing customer service forever – are you ready?

Veronica’s recent blog mentioned that the customer service industry has moved on from a focus on contact centres or how to improve the outsourced relationship between a client and supplier. These may have been important considerations in the past, but the emphasis today is on the overall customer experience and how this can be improved.

One of the biggest changes in the way customers interact with the customer service function of an organisation is the proliferation of new channels. A decade ago the number of channels available to customers was far more limited than now – a voice call and email were the only options offered by most companies – but today this has changed dramatically.

In fact, I would argue that the majority of customers are now quite familiar with some form of customer service using at least six channels. Voice and email are still available and online chat is also now popular. Add online review sites or forums, such as Tripadvisor, and social networks like Twitter and Facebook and it’s clear how things have changed.

But I’m only mentioning the most commonly used channels. There are many other social networks and the important thing for a customer service manager to think of now is that this is not a fixed environment. You cannot plan a multichannel customer service strategy merely by detailing how to respond to customer tweets or Facebook posts.

The texting application Whatsapp has many more users than Twitter and is adding about a million new users every day. Wearable technologies such as Google Glass are already available to regular users and many similar technologies are on the way.

All these new communication channels are almost certainly going to be used by consumers asking for some form of customer service. Companies that have a very fixed strategy on multichannel support will struggle as new tools or networks increase in prominence and previously popular networks decline in importance.

The key is to be ready for change. Customers will use any communication tool that is available to them to ask brands for help.  If you ensure that your approach to multichannel service allows you to react quickly to changing trends then you can ensure those calls for help are always answered.

Have you seen any significant changes in the approach to multichannel customer service recently? Leave a comment on the blog here or get in touch via my LinkedIn here.

I just want to whatsapp

 

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Communication is changing customer service today

What is the customer service industry focused on today? In the past decade – maybe even just the last half a decade – the industry has changed dramatically, but the core focus remains the pursuit of an improved customer experience.

The changes have come from many different angles, but primarily there have been two big changes that have changed the expectation of customers;

  1. The mobile Internet. Since the launch of the Apple iPhone in 2007 there has been an enormous growth in the use of Internet on mobile devices. Just a decade ago this was still unusual – you had to go home and start using a PC to access the Internet. Now you can pull out a phone and use Google or a price comparison service while out shopping.
  2. Social media. The ability for every customer to also be a publisher and reviewer, using blogs or social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, has changed the way many brands interact with their customers. Now any customer can be the reviewer that makes an enormous difference to future sales.

The combination of these two changes in the way people communicate means that customer service is no longer about waiting for customers to get in touch with questions or complaints after a sale is made. The customer service team today has to be offering advice before a product is bought, checking review forums for accuracy, scanning discussions on social media and engaging with customers even if you cannot be entirely certain that they have bought your products.

Customer service today is more complex and sophisticated than ever. Customers are comfortable hopping across at least six different channels now and often their comments about your product are not directed at your official channels – you just have to find the comments and to engage in the places where customers are having their own discussion.

Wrapping all this together and focusing on the holistic experience a customer has is the best way to approach customer service today. How do they know about your products, how can they get information about them, how can they purchase your products, and how can they get support afterwards? A successful service strategy needs to consider all of these aspects today and to make the effort required for interaction with the brand as low as possible.

Have you seen any great examples of customer experience that move beyond the traditional customer service contact centre model? Leave a note on the blog or get in touch via my LinkedIn here.

iPhone party

 

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Vodafone and ESB join forces in Ireland

How often do you read about two companies from entirely separate industries getting together and leveraging their combined expertise to create an improved product or service that would not be possible – or might be too expensive – to achieve alone?

It has just happened in Ireland where Vodafone Ireland has agreed to partner with the energy supplier ESB. ESB has a national fibre network that with a little more investment can be expanded into a national fixed-line and broadband service. Vodafone plans to partner up with ESB to access their existing infrastructure and to spend an additional €450m improving the network.

This allows Vodafone to create a national network that goes right to each home for much less than if they tried creating this network without the existing ESB infrastructure.

Customers are set to benefit as this new network would see Ireland propelled up the Internet speed rankings to a position where Irish broadband could be amongst the best available in Europe.

This is particularly important to a country like Ireland where city dwellers already have a good level of broadband, but those in the countryside have not been served well. Even remote villages will have existing power infrastructure so the new network will help to provide high quality Internet access across all regions of the country.

Given the cost of upgrading or creating new networks could this be a template for the future where cross-industry tie-ups allow costs to be shared and create better services for the end customer?

Ireland

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The Customer Is A Knave!

The customer is no longer king, the customer is a knave!

With a multi-channel mind set, mobile tech and (brand) attention span of a goldfish, the concept of earning customer ‘loyalty’ today is arguably as old hat as ‘posting’ holiday postcards or ‘sharing’ a bag of sweets!

As David Reed (FIDM) comments in the latest International Journal of the IDM “consumers have not only taken a lot of control away from marketers, they are increasingly behaving in far more random ways than were ever assumed”.

Consumers flit between channels like Goldilocks until they find one that’s “just right”. They spend endless hours investigating products and services on a company or aggregator website one day only to go on and make a seemingly spontaneous purchase on some completely different website on the next. Having by in large failed to predict the present, never mind the future, companies today are wrestling with a new era of ‘customer incidence’. Customer incidence charts the trajectory of a customer’s proactive interaction with a brand, regardless of channel, through its orbit of direct influence whatever the consumer’s purpose – research, commentary, purchase, service, renewal or complaint.

Star systems with trajectories in deep space

The companies that are succeeding today and that will go on succeeding are those who recognise that ‘customer experience’ is a daisy chain of moments of delight or ‘incidentals’ at each and every interaction on a customer’s trajectory through that brand’s ‘halo’ of channels. They recognise too that ‘customer incidence’ charts the many trajectories, long or short, the consumer makes through many brand orbits, including competitors, that are also delivering moments of delight.

But moreover, these successes will be grounded in the customer service operations these companies have established, supported and empowered by tried, tested and fine-tuned people and process methodologies underpinned by technology solutions that offer near A.I. analyses and insight that can offer something as close to customer telepathy as it’s possible to do.

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Customer service comes first in companies today

With customer service now open and visible on social channels many marketing directors are taking a close interest in how their brand is being represented online – marketing chiefs are now stepping in to manage many customer service departments. This is affecting many companies in many industries, but the connecting thread is that what takes place in the customer service function is more important than ever as the actions of agents can now be more important than advertising or other marketing efforts.

This is a natural effect of the multichannel service environment we now live in. customers are demanding service via social channels which are usually transparent and open to anyone. If brands respond using the same channels then examples of great service (and poor service) can easily be shared with friends.

So it seems inevitable that customer service is going to become more important than ever. Marketing heads, sales heads, and strategy heads are all going to want to play some role in how customers are managed rather than considering it a ‘back-room’ task where a team just answers the phone and notes down complaints.

Call Centre Helper magazine recently featured a great article that explores how this change in corporate structure might be problematic. The article suggests that the marketing managers might start changing the way customer service teams interact with customers, trying to reflect their own marketing agenda, and ultimately failing to offering great service or a great image of the brand.

It’s a danger as this becomes more common, but the important issue for those of us involved in customer service and experience is that this is where everyone else in the business is now looking. It’s the people who have a direct relationship with the customers who are now the most important team in the company and this can only mean some interesting times ahead in the near future.

Market in Aix en Provence

 

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Supporting online shoppers continues to be a challenge

Online retail is a now a mature business model isn’t it? After all, companies such as Amazon have been taking orders online and delivering products for two decades. Is there still so much to learn?

Clearly there is still a lot to learn for the retailers who are trying to blend both the online and in-store shopping experience. A new report from JDA titled the Consumer Pulse Report 2014 suggests that 57% of consumers don’t believe there is any integration between the stores and online sites of major retailers.

And that’s not all. One in five consumers complained about problems with product deliveries to their home. Almost two-thirds would happily switch to an alternative retailer because of an unacceptable online experience. A third of customers would be prepared to pay a premium price if it guaranteed a same-day product delivery.

A third of customers had experienced problems using click-and-collect – in particular they had used this option to save time only to find queues in-store.

None of this sounds very promising, but the silver lining is that 69% of those same consumers believe that online retail will be their main shopping channel within the next five years.

That’s a big shift to the online channel and it will require that many of these issues around delivery and customer service be ironed out soon. What is your own experience of online retail – better or worse than this research suggests? Leave a comment here on the blog or get in touch via my LinkedIn profile here:

Shopping

 

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