February 2009 | Volume 27 / Number 9
The Importance of Quality In a Recessionary Economy
By Nadji Tehrani
The Aftermath of Offshoring Madness
Around the turn of the century, as I predicted in a number of my editorials, many companies decided to take their call centers offshore primarily for one and only one reason, “cheap labor.”
Companies ignored myriad problems associated with offshoring, which included lack of experience, over promising and NOT delivering, poor attitude, rudeness, cultural hurdles, and the poor communication skills of offshore agents.
I predicted that the companies who go offshore primarily for cost reasons, will eventually lose many customers and unavoidably, after losing millions of dollars, will learn the expensive lesson that if you like to do it right, you need to keep your call centers in the United States or near-shore or in an area where communications, experience, quality and cultural similarity exists. Yes, one might save a few dollars by offering lower compensation to an offshore agent, but if that situation causes the company to lose a $100,000 per year customer, then that is no bargain.
When I predicted the eventual return of the companies, people thought I was crazy. But today, I can share with you that with a few exceptions, many of the offshore companies have decided to return to America, and in fact that has been a key reason for the continued growth of the contact center industry in America. A great example of that is Infocision Management Corporation, who provided us the following information, which I think is relevant to our comments:
“Some offshore contact center businesses are returning to the U.S., no question about it. There has and will continue to be a real shake-up of the Indian market. A call center is the voice of your company, so it’s crucial to have mature, experienced professionals on the phones who can truly understand the regional and cultural nuances of your customers. Companies that sacrifice call center quality for short term savings in operations end up losing customers in the long run. Ultimately you want to look at the same things as you would on any outsource decision, paying special attention to important metrics such as talk times, wait time, reporting, security and lifetime value of the client interaction.”
To do a good job of customer service, one must know the customer’s business, they need to know the customer’s preferences, one must provide appropriate services and technologies to the customers and above all, if customer care is not your company’s core competency, then it is highly advisable to outsource your teleservices and customer care function to a reputable teleservices agency.
Quality is the Only Sustainable Competitive Advantage
As we all know, competitive advantage among many other things is another vital tool necessary for survival and growth of any company. One must not underestimate the necessity for the highest possible quality in any service or product offering because outstanding quality leads to customer satisfaction which also leads to customer retention.
As indicated in my January 2009 editorial, customer retention is a vital ingredient of remaining in business. One of the greatest things that I learned early in my career was that, “Companies live or die from repeat business.” This makes it crystal clear why we need to focus not only on quality, but also customer care, CRM, etc.
For Doing a Good Job
To do a good job of customer service, one must know the customer’s business, they need to know the customer’s preferences, one must provide appropriate services and technologies to the customers and above all, if customer care is not your company’s core competency, then it is highly advisable to outsource your teleservices and customer care function to a reputable teleservices agency, preferably company that is a member of Customer Interaction Solutions® (CIS) Top 50 Teleservices ranking and preferably a Top 50 company that has been a recipient of CIS’s MVP Quality Award. Infocison Management Corporation is one such company, having exclusively earned 15 consecutive MVP Quality Awards. When it comes to quality teleservices, Infocision is in a class by itself.
Congratulations to all of The MVP Quality Award winners recognized in this issue.As indicated in the December 2008 Buyer’s Guide issue of CIS, we asked two leading companies to offer their opinions relating to the above discussions and here are their invaluable comments:
I’d like to take this opportunity to extend heartfelt congratulations to all the honorees of the 16th annual MVP (Marketing Via Phone) Quality Awards. This year’s winners exemplify the search for excellence. They have demonstrated to the editors of Customer [email protected] Solutions their ability to build a feeling of community within their companies, while providing the best they can give to their clients.
These contact centers exist to get the job done while respecting the wishes and serving the needs of both the business world and the consumer world, providing both the technical and human sides of customer care. I know how difficult it is to win this coveted award, given the amount of competition, both domestic and overseas. We recognize and appreciate your major contributions to the growth and prosperity of our industry.
In my judgment, you are the cream of the crop and it is always a great pleasure to work with you.
— Nadji Tehrani
“The greatest technological need in the contact center right now is for solutions that will help transform the contact center into a value-added profit center, rather than a cost center. To achieve this critical goal, contact centers need comprehensive solutions that integrate quality management (QM) integrated with interaction analytics, agent coaching and a post-call customer feedback solution. This integrated approach enables call center supervisors to dramatically improve service levels, resulting in increased customer loyalty — one of the requirements for sustainable profitability.”
“Companies must understand customer preferences and utilize the right technologies to make this transition to a value-add model. It requires understanding why a call was made or what the drivers are for initiating a query or complaint.
To provide a proactive and seamless customer experience, companies need to know their customers and their pattern of behavior over time. So, it’s important to have analysis of customer behaviors and intimate knowledge of call types and customer segments. How that information is deployed to agents at point of service is also very important.”
In short, to be successful in any economy, you need to combine all of the above guidelines and follow them religiously.
As always, I welcome your comments. Please email them to me at [email protected].
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