Q: Trends in Customer Care.
Ans: Recently we have seen a lot of trend and a shift in how we outsource and how we manage business in the outsourcing world. We are seeing global players design tailor-made solutions for our clients with a great mix of onshore, near-shore and offshore, which allows us to service premium customers at a marginal cost with much better cultural fitment; say Manila is very aligned to customer service, Costa Rica is aligned for most premium customers at a marginal extra cost and tech support for India does very well. So these are some of the solutions we are seeing get into the bids today, and organizations and clients are looking at this very proactively. The other very interesting trend we have seen is how people look at customer service and end customer satisfaction to drive their core strategies. We are seeing lot more people and clients today move to net promoter score, end customer surveys, third-party surveys through much larger sample base to decide, understand and create strategies. Organizations like us today, which have multiple verticals of finance and accounting and analytics can play a very important part and allowing this as a one-stop shop, if I may, to create end-to-end solution for your needs.
Q: Best Practice in Customer Care.
Ans: Delivering a great customer care services today in this very competitive world is a very dynamic job today, we need to constantly be looking at what we do and what we say, and what we hear. Some of the good customer care companies that offer great customer service have this organization that is geared to listen to what their people are saying and what the market is saying on an ongoing basis. Allowing them to listen to what the end customer wants, needs, drive them to deliver what the end market is expecting. So gearing up an organization to listen and react through various tools and automations whether they are great CRM techniques, workforce management tools, customer satisfaction index whether they are emails or whether they are IVR surveys, net promoter scores, we see that customers today want to say what they need whether they are happy or they are sad, and organizations that can leverage and get benefit out of this seem to have an edge in the market today.
Q: Common mistakes made by companies when delivering customer experiences.
Ans: Some of the common and very low hanging fruits, as I see, in the outsourcing customer care activities is that when an organization does not listen to what their client base is saying, what their people are saying, they lose out on the opportunity to tailor-design the solution. Another important aspect where we see frequent errors is when organizations commit to short-term relationships and strategies. When you design a strategy for the short-term or you engage in a contract for a short-term, your ability to leverage long-term benefits through the knowledge that you transfer or acquire that’s extremely limited. Whereby, we have seem that great commitment at various levels of organizations from the partner company to an outsource company allows far better reach, ability and proactiveness, fleet-footedness, and open environment to enhance end customer service and experience.
The other very common mistake we see in the outsourcing world is when the outsourcer does not become an extended part of your organization. A boundaryless environment allows far better knowledge transfer; escalation of situations, better proactiveness and the sheer walls that don’t exist allows us to reach out to multiple levels within organizations, a great governance model and executive sponsorship allows this to happen much better and easily. When you see organizations engaged at multiple levels, looking at data and analytics and not managing business through perceptions and anecdotes, you end up delivering far better and faster to your end-customer.
Q: How can companies deliver better customer experiences?
Ans: Driving good customer care in large organizations needs an organization to drive a culture of customer service. We have seen that every organization that drives customer service top-down internally is better and more successful in delivering better customer experience. This is something, which is not off the shelf; it needs to be imbibed into an organization and at various levels and needs to be practiced. Thereby, it is something that organizations need a deliberate effort in inculcating this in their DNA. We have seen consistently large organizations use and leverage technology, people practices and great proactive steps to deliver customer service in large formats across geographies and domains.
Large organizations rely on huge amount of data and analytics today to understand customer need and customer care. Good investment in these areas allows organizations to deliver better customer service. It also allows them to stay ahead in the game because being a proactive makes you design the product, service recovery and services to your end customer so much better and ahead of time and ahead of competition.
Leveraging analytics and in tools and automation has huge benefits and opportunities. To give you an example, we service an organization out of US; we have more than 2,000 people on the account who takes millions of calls for them throughout the year. The ability to mine this data for them, today we see allows greater marketing strategies, allows them to understand what competition is doing, where value is in the service and what is the best effort that needs to be put in at any point of time. Analytics has helped us improve customer service, first call resolution and tailor-made products for various geographies that we service them. So it just has huge potential today because in another organization where we service just the sheer retail management of products and the ability that analytics can bring on what’s moving, what’s not, what geography works, what products work has allowed our partners to design solutions around these issues.
Q: How has WNS helped deliver better customer experience?
Ans: Through our relationships with our multiple engagements, we have seen that over these years we have been able to deliver far better value to our customers than just from the pure labour arbitrage and lift and shift business. In our travel dotcom organization for their UK business, we have managed to improve customer sales, which is a pure bottomline impact to them by nearly 3 times, and we have been outperforming their onshore partners since the first week of transition.
The sales conversion that we do today for our other travel organizations, we have been able to materially improve conversions over the last 4-5 years. In our endeavour to do continuous improvement and drive process improvement through our operations, for another large customer we have improved customer satisfaction and end customer experience by nearly 40% in the last two years. These are comparable results and better than onshore customers, so today delivering value through a combination of near shore, offshore, onshore capabilities by large organizations is allowing us to service our parent organization and our clients through much better results at the end of the day.
In most of our successful relationships that extent across geographies, extent across continents, we have seen that great executive sponsorship commitment works. In two of our very leading accounts both out of the US; one is a cosmetic large retailer and the other is a dotcom travel company, we have been able to work with them at multiple levels, we are culturally extremely aligned to the organizations, and we feel part of their organization as they feel part of our organization. So we have CEO level engagement, we have Managing Director level engagement and we have team leader level engagement. You will see on our floor people celebrating each other’s birthday across continents. That’s the kind of penetration and cultural alignment we have managed to bring across this very large 2000 plus, 5 geography accounts that we manage today, and these are over six year relationships with us and still going strong.
Q: What should companies be conscious of when outsourcing?
Ans: When organizations look to outsource business, in my mind, the most important thing for them to be conscious of is to get into this relationship with eyes wide open, enter into an agreement or into an engagement with an intend for the long haul. It is like a marriage, it is like a relationship, you are not there for the short-term, it has to be strategic and it needs immense amount of commitment from leadership at all levels.
Every outsourcing effort, which has been successful has had huge amount of executive empowerment and investment. We have seen in all our successful relationships and we have lots of those that a lot of time is spent on looking at the data, looking at the business, jointly as an extension of each other’s organization. It is not lookout as an organization that has been given work and outsource and we are the vendor. Most of our customers today lookout to outsource stable and robust processes, what we should never do is outsource a broken or an immature process. Outsourcing allows people today to focus on far more strategic work than manage the entire logistics of the call center. Getting the right cultural fit with an organization when you outsource also allows you to cut across the boundary, deliver value to your end customer and have a seamless knowledge transfer from both the sides.
The other very important aspect while selecting a vendor partner for outsourcing is to get the right mix of the value that you are looking for price, location, technology, culture, service levels, and not necessarily in this order. But getting the right value through identifying the best solution upfront and then committing into this in the whole hog allows you to build the customer base and your vendor though the transition phase. Partnering in the transition and managing the business in the long-term through great governance model and a vendor managed group within the client’s side, I have seen works very well from both accounts because that allows you to be far more subjective, far more high level and less transactional in your solution design.