Outsourcing Customer Service and Bake sales?

Outsourcing Customer Service and Bake sales?

Uncategorized

Outsourcing Customer Service and Bake sales?

What does outsourcing customer service, AI and customer experience have to do with a bake sale?

As my wife and I walked by a bagel shop Sunday morning, there was a table set up with all kinds of baked goods and a couple of teenagers in front of it. As we passed by one kid said good morning to which we replied good morning and kept walking. As the other kid saw that we weren’t stopping, he quickly said good morning and followed up by asking if we would like to help them fly to New York for a competition.  What kind of competition, my wife asked, which got the kid to smile big and explain what they are flying to New York for. It was an interaction that lasted only a few minutes, but it was effective. It got the results the kids needed, which was money, but it also got the word out about what they are doing and its importance.

As we continued on my wife and I discussed that we really don’t see many bake sales anymore. I mean, we hardly see one and yet they used to be so popular just a few years back. It’s a sign of the times. People today are on social media and everything is done online, at least that’s what it seems like. Maybe most kids even do their fundraising online, getting their family and their friends to put the word out on social media. Is it effective? Yes, it’s very effective, but they would not have gotten my support or countless others that Sunday morning if they didn’t set up that table and speak to us.

So what does a bake sale have to do with customer service outsourcing, AI and customer experience?

I  saw a lot of similarities between the outsourcing of the customer service experience, AI  and the bake sale. Here are just a few thoughts that crossed my mind:

Customer service outsourcing varies greatly from one company and even one agent to another

Both the kids we engaged with were nice and seemed like great people, but one in particular was more engaging and got us interested in their story. This got me thinking about the call center agents in an outsourced call center. They might all be polite and follow protocol, but are they engaging? Do they believe in the brand enough to transmit the story in a convincing way? Are they part of the cause or doing just enough to stay on the account?

Not everyone engages the same way

We all know social media is a powerful tool. The amount of engagement that happens is astounding but it also takes a big effort to stand out from the crowd and even more so to do it in a way that gets people to engage. The reality is if I saw those kids story on social media, I wouldn’t have donated to their cause. It wasn’t personal. It was nice having a conversation with a person. Learning about what they were interested in and being able to help. Could they have raised money strictly on social media? Possibly, but they would have missed out on a lot of people that walked by them that day.

AI versus personal touch for the best customer experience

We’ve all read about how AI will replace customer service representatives. I personally believe that AI has a role to play in enhancing customer service but will not replace a live customer service agent. When it comes to customer experience, we need to engage the customer in the manner they would like to be engaged. Sometimes automation is the way and sometimes human interaction is best. The key to a great customer experience is to allow people the comfort of engaging their way. The first kid that said hello to us at the bake sale was great, but not engaging. The second got the results they were looking for but in a way that we felt good about the experience. We need to remember that when automating processes, these automations should be done to enhance an experience, not for budget cutting or other such reasons.

We should always remember that the customer is the heart of the business. If we focus on the customer and deliver what they want in the way they want it, we are bound to succeed in implementing a great customer experience.

This article was written by Perry Silber, COO of GuateCall. GuateCall is a Near-shore contact center provider of multi-channel bilingual services located In Guatemala, Central America. If you would like to learn more about GuateCall, please reach out to me at 713-474-2222 Ext 116 or by e-mail Perry@Guatecall.com

 

Some Companies Are Not Into Outsourcing

Some Companies Are Not Into Outsourcing

Uncategorized

Some companies are not into outsourcing. I get it. Actually, I don’t get it, because when the most successful companies in most, if not all verticals outsource, there is a reason. A company can’t be good at everything. We all know the old saying “Do what you do best and outsource the rest” But why do most people have such a hard time with this simple concept?

There is a big difference between outsourcing personal tasks and outsourcing company departments such as customer service, marketing, IT and the like and yet we generally use the same thought process for both when deciding if and when to outsource. What causes this thought process? Why are we hesitant to focus on our core strengths and outsource the rest? It comes down to management’s fear of giving up “control”. It’s a trait most of us have grown up with from childhood and carried it into our adult working world. We try to give logical reasons as to why we do this:

  • It’s easier to control in house
  • Outsourcing won’t do as good a job as an in house team
  • It’s too expensive; We can do it cheaper in house.

There is some level of logic to each of these thought processes and that is why it’s so tempting to follow them, however for most companies, nothing could be further than the truth. Here are some thoughts in the customer service / call center space that GuateCall, our near shore call center company, specializes in.

Let’s take the first objection, “It’s easier to control in house.” With the U.S. unemployment rate at an all time low and employee turnover constantly increasing, it takes a lot of effort to hold on to good employees. Employees aren’t just working for your business, they are working for their immediate supervisor. How much time and effort does a company need to train and maintain a management team working in the “trenches” that will embrace your company culture and maintain a staff of people under them to work the way the company wants. That alone should point to the difficulty that lies ahead for companies controlling everything in house. Add to that recruitment, training, meetings, technology and space for a changing number of employees. The monetary cost, the time spent consistently following up and creating continuous improvements is anything but easy.

The next objection is that an outsourcer won’t do as good a job as an in house team. From personal experience I know this to be false. Nothing beats having an experienced contact center that was created to focus specifically on servicing clients using the latest technology as well as time tested methods. A good outsourcing BPO partner has a management team in place with years of experience and a staff that has served multiple clients for years. A successful call center partnership creates an environment where the employees feel that they are working for the ultimate client, not the outsourcer. Outsourced call centers have consistently proven that due to their specific business focus, experience and constant improvements, they will outperform in house call centers in most instances.

The third part of the equation is it’s cheaper to run a call center in house. If looking at strictly an employees’ hourly wage, it may be true, however we all know that is only the beginning of the costs. The recruiting, training, management, liability, space, equipment, insurance, taxes, payroll, sick days, turnover, the list goes on and on. When you add up all that, outsourcing becomes a lot more attractive. In today’s global environment a business can also reduce costs by choosing a near shore call center, like GuateCall, over an on shore option. There are pluses and minuses to each option, but in general a high end near shore call center will offer on shore quality at a discounted rate. This gives a business a very attractive option for maintaining high service levels while controlling and even reducing costs.

The right outsourcing partnership allows businesses to focus on their core competencies and outsource the other work. If your company is in need of outsourcing customer service by phone, chat or email, reach out to GuateCall for high end service with affordable pricing.

This article was written by Perry Silber, COO of GuateCall. GuateCall is a Near-shore contact center provider of multi-channel bilingual English and Spanish call center services located In Guatemala, Central America. Whether through voice or chat, we can provide superior services to your organization. If you would like to learn more about GuateCall and Call Center services in Latin America, please reach out to me at 713-474-2222 or by e-mail perry@guatecall.com.

Smile in a Call center phone interaction

Smile in a Call center phone interaction

Uncategorized

A smile in a Call center phone interaction is a key step to improving customer service and CSAT scores.

Why am I so confident that by simply smiling there is an improvement in call quality? It’s proven. At GuateCall, our nearshore call center located in Guatemala City, Central America, we have listened to thousands of calls of customer service agents that are smiling and those customer service agents that are not smiling. We’ve even tested the same agents and could clearly hear when they were smiling and when they were not.

What is the major difference? It’s the tone on the call. There is a clear difference in the customer service representatives’ tone when he or she is smiling as compared to when not. What is even more interesting is that there is a marked difference in the reaction of the customer which has a direct relationship to the agent’s tone. Customers seem to be more willing to listen and are more open to engage with customer service representatives that are smiling.

Joy breaks all physical and spiritual boundaries. That is a powerful concept. When applied to day to day life, joy gives the sense of control and knowledge that we can overcome any perceived difficulty we may encounter.

We all want to be joyful and happy, but for many people it doesn’t come naturally. Even those happy go lucky people have moments that they are just not inclined to be happy. So how do we maintain our cheery disposition when providing customer service to our clients? The fastest and easiest thing to do is smile! Even a not so genuine smile is better than nothing. A call center colleague advises trainees to look at your face and ask if you would want to talk to yourself if you weren’t smiling.  The most common thought process of new trainees is, we’re on calls, the customers can’t see us so why does it matter? An agent needs to be recorded and hear themselves speak while smiling and also when they are not smiling. Play the recording to the other trainees and ask them to decide which recording sounds friendlier, more confident and which has a nicer tone. This process ends all debates.

The next step is to consistently keep agents smiling throughout the day, so keep the call center floor loose, send funny messages to keep agents happy (an unexpected message at an unexpected time is usually best), create a seating arrangement that allows agents to help each other, create competition and excitement on the call center floor and make sure supervisors are there for their team members at all time.

Every company wants to improve their customer’s experience. Before creating elaborate plans and making major investments, make sure your team is smiling & happy. It’s the number one way to make the biggest and fastest impact on the customer experience, oh and it’s the least expensive as well, so try it!

How long does training last in a Contact and Call Center?

How long does training last in a Contact and Call Center?

News

I often get asked by potential employees “how long does training last?” It’s funny to see their reaction when I look them straight in the eye and say, “training never ends!”

Now you have to understand, we are a boutique near-shore contact center that pays premium salaries in the BPO space in Guatemala, Central America. We have built a great reputation and so when hiring opportunities become available we get applications from employees of all the major call centers in town. Those employees have gone through the training process of major Fortune 500 companies. Accounts that represent many of the biggest names in the Airline, Hotel, Cruise, Energy, Shipping, Cell phone, Cable, Retail and Internet space.

“Training never ends?” I’m asked. “Never” I respond and I explain GuateCall’s philosophy on training.

When most companies train their employees, they explain about the company, the product or service, the benefits, the system, policies etc etc. They start with classroom training, then side-by-side and then it’s off to the races.

At GuateCall, we compare that philosophy to that of a stone that had a rush of water going over it for a while. What happens to the stone? It starts to get smooth on top and that makes for a good customer experience. But what if you want to change the culture of service? What if you want an awesome customer experience from people that take ownership of the brand? Well that takes a lot more than a rush of water to smooth out the top of the stone. What needs to happen is a consistent drip of water hitting that stone. Drip, drip, drip and drip some more until the water starts penetrating the inside of the stone. From Supervisors, Team-Leads and QA support, everyone drips thought processes and ideas to help support the front line staff in their endeavors. We create classes and seminars to teach new skill sets and so much more. In short, we motivate and challenge our people to learn and be more. So when does training at GuateCall end…Never!

This article was written by Perry Silber, COO of GuateCall. GuateCall is a Near-shore contact center provider of multi-channel bilingual services located In Guatemala, Central America. If you would like to learn more about GuateCall, please reach out to me at 713-474-2222 Ext 116 or by e-mail

Some “Let’s get real” questions to ask yourself

Some “Let’s get real” questions to ask yourself

Uncategorized

I am always perplexed by the concept of outsourcing call center services to a company that pays their employees minimum wage. Contact centers should have an added value or higher performance standards to justify the increase in salary. If the same job can be done at a cheaper price with the same quality, than what’s the purpose of outsourcing to that location?

There is no need to fall in love with the city or country you are outsourcing contact center services to. Fall in love with the way your customers are being treated! Fall in love with the value your contact center services provider offers. Being an “American” call center is useless if that’s your whole competitive advantage.

Some “Let’s get real” questions to ask yourself

  • How long will your front line agents stay on the account?
  • Do they see their position as a career or just a way to make some money that’s better than flipping burgers until they find something better?
  • What is the turnover rate?
  • What is the interest level you hear when auditing calls?
  • Do the agents sound like they care about your customers or is it just another call?

If call center companies invest the time to hire, train, motivate, educate and create an environment that creates the service levels that their customer’s desire, they can’t afford to lose their employees because they only pay minimum wage. This leads to question, so do they really spend the time necessary to hire, train, motivate and educate as they should? Can your business afford to have mediocre customer service as your front line representation when your customers contact the company? Scary thought isn’t it.

It’s time to be real when it comes to outsourcing. Don’t get all excited by the bells and whistles that big box call centers show you. The huge facilities, the amazing recreational rooms are all fine and dandy but at the end of the day, their employees pay are still taking a beating in order to finance the high infrastructure costs of these operations.

Test run call centers. Create competitive environments and allow the call center to prove their worth with performance and reliability. Your customers and business will be glad you did!

Load more

No more posts to load.