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Why agility is critical to deliver exceptional customer experiences

From the Knowledge Centre

However satisfied your customers are with the service you provide, there will be times – not all predictable - when you may find you need tactical customer contact support to meet exceptional customer demand. Echo's Chris Cullen talks about why and what you should look out for in this month's dive in blog......

However satisfied your customers are with the service you provide, there will be times – not all predictable - when you may find you need tactical customer contact support to meet exceptional customer demand.

There's been a growing demand for this type of customer service support in recent years, and as a provider of outsourced, insourced and managed services, we continue to see increasing demand across multiple sectors.

The type of companies requiring this support vary from those whose contact centre operations are already massive in scale, to fast-growing challengers outgrowing existing premises and labour, start-up and virtual model businesses looking to minimise fixed overheads, and even to those companies normally averse to outsourcing.

Business events driving requirements are equally varied - everything from the known to the unpredictable; from one-off direct response events and new product launches, through communication of supply, pricing and regulatory changes, to emergency incidents and above-forecasted growth in customers.

What they have in common is unavoidable time and resource pressures. In such situations, standard procurement processes are often unworkable and irrelevant. It’s not just about quickly finding a partner of the right size, with the right experience and accreditations, what’s needed is agility – not just agile processes and delivery models – but a real culture of agility by which the service company lives and breathes.

Rapid mobilisation to meet challenging deadlines
In situations where tactical outsourced support is required, whether proactive such as for a new product launch or reactive such as in an emergency incident, it’s important to be up and running as quickly as possible. Not only is the responsiveness of your partner absolutely critical, so is having an agile implementation plan – one that allows your service partner to take a phased approach to requirements in line with your priorities.

Working with a fast-growing challenger energy brand, for example, I found that – despite their general opposition to outsourcing customer service (and a lack of skills and capacity in-house) – they understood the value of engaging an expert partner who could accelerate their smart meter installation campaign and test voice channel viability. Once our expertise established a telephony approach was the right route, we supported the service migration back in-house.

Scalability to Meet Fluctuating Levels of Customer Demand
Adaptability in all forms has long been regarded a key benefit of outsourcing alongside customer contact expertise and a reduction in cost to serve. For tactical engagements where there are inevitable or unpredictable customer demand fluctuations, a partner’s ability to rapidly flex resourcing under extreme pressure becomes particularly vital.

Here is a great example - as the customer contact partner for the Tower of London’s recent Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red commemorative event, Echo routinely handled 350 ceramic poppy order enquiries a day. However, publicity events such as coverage of royal visits to the installation meant we were quickly up-scaling to handle contact peaks of up to 6,500 calls a day.

Flexibility to Meet Evolving Nature of Customer Needs

Today’s customer environment is volatile and changing, therefore a responsive attitude, dynamic processes and resource availability to accommodate ‘scope creep’ are key service partner attributes.

When a pioneering healthcare provider engaged Echo to manage an exceptional, unforecasted surge in new customers, what started out as a short contract to deploy 20 staff within a week to handle enquiries, evolved to include order taking and full support, and in scale to 60fte. The client quickly recognised that by engaging a managed service partner, one who drives and embraces change, flexibility and customer service expertise were key attributes they could benefit from in today’s fast-changing market landscape.

Best Value Pricing to Meet Individual Business Needs
It’s important for both sides of a customer contact outsourcing engagement to maintain an element of flexibility around pricing and service level agreements. This is particularly critical where the event is relatively unique, as the scale and nature of customer enquiries can be either difficult to predict or are predicted to evolve - such as in crisis management situations, for new product launches or unexpected media publicity.

So, if you’re about to outsource any elements of your customer contact, be sure to ask your partner if agility is core to their culture. How flexible, adaptable and responsive will they be to changes in your requirements? Will they be willing to learn and create new ideas? Will they actively drive and embrace change? It may be easy to answer “yes” to all of these, but can they back it up with a track record of successful delivery? At Echo, the importance of this to both existing and new clients is recognised by the inclusion of agility as one of our core values alongside collaboration, empowerment, integrity and respect. If you need to respond with agility to changing customer or business needs, then make sure your partner can deliver.


About the author

Chris Cullen

Chris is head of acquisitions, sales and marketing at Echo across our six sites and three divisions.

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