For Top Customer Engagement: Change Your Latitude

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1 [Type text] QUALITY INNOVATION SERVICE SUPPORT For Top Customer Engagement: Change Your Latitude Call Center Location & It s Impact on Customer Engagement

2 The call center industry has seen many changes in the past 20 years: Advanced response systems now allow customers to not only select call topic options, but to enter in response information and perform an ever increasing number of actions without having a live conversation at all. The proliferation of Internet transactions has meant that call centers are often delivering complex services with more difficult interactions, requiring that reps be more knowledgeable than ever. Quality monitoring, call routing and customer data analytics ensure that every aspect of a customer interaction can be review/ reported on and improved upon. But one thing has remained constant: Customers demand good, proactive service to remain engaged. Changes in Latitude Quick Fix to Engagement Problems? One of the changes that altered the scope of call center outsourcing is the offshoring model. For decades now, U.S. companies have moved call center jobs overseas. The moves were enticed with exponentially lower labor rates and a large and virtually untapped pool of educated resources, all clamoring for jobs. But the reality of the offshoring model has been a large reduction in customer value and customer satisfaction, leading to lower and lower levels of customer engagement. In the face of higher infrastructure costs, increasing wage rates and most notably, high customer dissatisfaction and disengagement rates in call centers with offshore solutions, many companies have solved engagement issues by simply planning a move, bringing back some of their calls to domestic operated centers. 2 P a g e

3 According to a study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), more than a third of U.S.-based executives at companies with more than $1 billion in sales are bringing back their offshore call center production to the U.S. In addition, BCG found that by end of 2015, U.S. centers may have a decided cost advantage of between 5% to 15% lower costs, compared to many countries call center costs. This reduction is due to many factors, but most notably, higher customer first call resolution and greater customer engagement. Many companies are finding out that offshoring may have been a mistake in the first place and are bringing production home. Several business analysts estimate that up to a quarter of the companies that offshoring lost money and critical customers doing it. Some may think the reason behind this trend is the fact that U.S. consumers are increasingly frustrated with losing their jobs due to outsourcing, causing companies who want to retain a positive brand image and keep customer engaged to revert small portions of their calls back to the US. Many others believe customer interactions are costing more because too many of the calls handled offshore end without the customer issue being resolved and that those repeat calls, missed sales opportunities and lower customer satisfact8oin is losing companies money. It is quite clear that today, onshoring is a sound business strategy for dramatically increasing customer engagement. 3 P a g e

4 The Impact of First Call Resolution One of the major trends impacting offshore-based call centers customer engagement is the reduction in first call resolution. According to the Contact Center Satisfaction Index, published by CFI Group, offshore agents provide the correct answer to all of the customer s inquiry less than 42% of the time, compared to an average of 68% first call resolution by US agents. In a business environment where U.S. customers are expecting agents to exhaust all resources to find the response to their inquiries, offshore centers who skip steps or provide inaccurate information actually ADD costs to center operations models because they create additional call volume. Additionally those practices create customers who exit the call with a less than glowing perception of the business. CFI Group notes that American-based customer contact centers earn 100% customer satisfaction an average of 81% of the time, while offshore locations earn customer s 100% satisfaction only 62% of the time. Unplanned Impact of Lower Comprehension There s also the issue of miscommunication between customers who speak one language and customer service representative who speak another that can adversely affect product information and sales quality. The foreign outsourcing countries turned out to be less proficient in English call handling than U.S. companies thought. Even the best foreign locations are functionally only marginally capable of interpreting and communicating everyday spoken English. Regional accents are even more difficult for offshore centers to manage and a lack of communication has served to be a critical component in lower customer engagement with offshore centers. 4 P a g e

5 At a basic level, interacting with an unfamiliar dialect is more challenging to people and requires them to work a little harder to both take in information and make themselves understood, particularly among older consumers or consumers with reduced hearing or lack of exposure to new dialects. If customers perceive your call center agents to be harder to understand or harder to work with, they will perceive your company as hard to work with, and therefore become less engaged with you and your brand. Industry reports note that only 4% of interactions have comprehension problems in the U.S., compared to 18% in offshore locations. That is nearly 20% of all customers interacting with your company that leave dissatisfied and are unable to resolve their questions with your product each and every day. Additionally, customers experience longer call handling times with offshore locations due to conversation comprehension issues. Customers have long held efficiency to be one of the top three characteristics of a good customer service interaction and offshore locations are simply not delivering. The Contact Center Satisfaction Index, by CFI Group, notes that comprehension problems extend average call handling time anywhere from 39% - 105%. Time barriers extend customer s satisfaction with your company and can reduce engagement significantly. Who wants to interact with a company that takes three times as long to perform a simple task? 5 P a g e

6 Improved Customer Retention A study by the CFI Group concluded that when customer service representatives are perceived to speak clearly, they retain customers despite major product or service issues 88 percent of the time. But when they re not perceived as speaking clearly, they retain customer issues only 35 percent of the time. Another study found that customers who reach an offshore call center have been proven to defect at THREE TIMES the rate of customers who reach a U.S.-based call center. The survey also found that callers are becoming aware that they are being served by a contact center located outside of the United States. Of the six industries surveyed, 75% of customers knew that customer-support call centers were based overseas. Is it a coincidence then that the PC industry, one of the first to offshore the majority of its consumer calls, also had the lowest customer satisfaction and lowest levels of engagement among the industries surveyed. According to Purdue s Center for Customer Driven Quality, 65% of customers would change their buying behavior if they learn that a company with which they are doing business used an offshore call center, even if they were satisfied with its customer service. Analysts predict that the U.S. call center staffing will return to the once high rates seen prior to the recession, if customers assume that if customer service calls are taken in the U.S., customers would be more willing to purchase with them and their revenues could return to the highs reached pre-recession. 6 P a g e

7 Onshoring Trend is Gaining Momentum: And Engagement It is clear that the 'onshoring' trend is gathering momentum companies like GE, Boeing, and Caterpillar, and many others have moved operations back to domestic centers over the last two years, and more and more firms are planning to follow. According to the BCG study, the companies involved in the study cited that the top factors driving future decisions on call center locations include: labor costs (57%), voice quality (41%), ease of doing business (29%), and proximity to customers (28%). BCG declared that call center jobs are coming back to the US, but nobody s talking about it. They estimated that at one point, 30 percent of call center jobs for high-tech firms were offshore; now, thanks to onshoring, sometimes called insourcing or backshoring, it s more like 12 percent. Large call center companies are making announcements to move workers back to the U.S. routinely now, citing decisions based on client demand. For example, one India based company announced hiring more than 4,000 workers in the U.S. over the next two years and the largest global call center provider announced two new centers in the western U.S. to manage the client s demands for U.S. based workers. 7 P a g e

8 Let TLCA Help You Plan Your Move to Onshore At TLC Associates, we understand our clients business need to realize continually higher rates of revenue. We help our outsourcing clients drive greater revenue every day by identifying process improvements, lowering cost per interaction, and applying our industry leading sales skills to help drive exceptional revenue. We offer select clients a consultative approach to help them plan their transition from offshore back to U.S. call center operation. Our consultancy approach leverages the unique perspective of our founder and President, Thomas L Cardella who can offer more than 25 years of industry leading call center creation and operational experience. Mr. Cardella has built two very successful call centers and has lead one of the nation s largest call center companies through a massive turnaround effort. He will use just the same successful and quality focused tactics to apply to your every customer facing interaction. Our team s ability to actively listen to our client s program needs, offer applicable solutions and generate higher revenue can help you maximize the quality of all of your interactions. For one global manufacturing company, TLC Associates worked closely with corporate strategists to compare and contrast the impact of offshoring their business to business dealer and consumer customer service lines. Because TLC Associates teams have a concerted focus on continuous improvement, not only did the global Fortune 100 leader realize 99% percent customer satisfaction within one month of outsourcing to TLC Associates, but our teams were able to provide them ample ways to reduce costs without impacting engagement or quality. 8 P a g e

9 As just one example, TLC Associates teams have reduced average handle times by: Conducting a dealer study in October to identify call handle length reduction opportunities. Delivering a thorough review of systems, resources, call control and knowledge updates to dealers. Documenting call tests to further prove call handling improvement will deliver results. Based on the observations of this study, TLC Associates was able to reduce call length / average handle times month over month for 6 months for a total of 24% reduction, on all business-to-business interactions. This reduction was realized with no negative impact on interaction quality. On a business survey program, TLC Associates offered adjustments to the survey phone script and noted that because of the script enhancements, our teams survey completion results improved over 209% and customer satisfaction reached an all time high of 100%, again proving that an onshore model can drastically improve customer engagement in a cost competitive model. Call TLC Associates today to find out how you can optimize the value of your U.S. based outsourcing Contact us: TLC Associates th Avenue, SW Cedar Rapids, IA P a g e

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