In our recent white paper with Frost & Sullivan, we discussed the need to design a customer service strategy that’s right for your business. How do you know if yours is right? In this blog Simon Garabette, Webhelp’s SVP of Operations for North America digs a little deeper into what a business needs to consider when working with a BPO, and why a framework can be helpful in designing customer-centric service.

When we meet potential new clients looking to outsource some (or all) of their customer service, our initial conversations always begin focused on a couple of initial key questions. Who are your customers? Where does their demand for customer service come from?

This early conversation is fundamental to understanding the role of customer service in a business. Is customer service core to supporting the products and services of the business? Or is a business merely servicing failure demand built into the current system?

Seeing service strategy through the customer’s eyes

Asking these questions – in effect trying to see through a customer’s eyes – is something anyone needs to do when beginning to think about the best service strategy for a business. Looking at the work itself and the systems that produce it can help you understand why customer service exists for a business and realize that ultimately, anything and everything is possible. Any company needs to ask itself what its risk appetite is though because ultimately it’s this, aligned to its business maturity, that will define its approach.

The answers to these questions can create the potential for change, and the opportunity to re-engineer the customer journey from first principles (we’ve looked at this in more detail in another recent blog).

The how and where of your customer service strategy

What you do and why you do it is the starting point, before moving onto where you’re going to do it. And how you’re going to do it when it’s there: working out which parts of the work are best where. For example, which pieces stay insourced, which is to be nearshored or offshored, or in fact which may be designed out all together through improvement in process and customer experience design

Take an example of a client who has never outsourced before. It’s their first time looking at BPO partners, so they need to be taken on a journey, with the benefits clearly explained of putting their customer experience into someone else’s hands. How it allows them to focus on their product, while a dedicated BPO handles their customer service for them.

There is always, for example, a balance to be struck between risk and cost. At one end of the spectrum there might be a solution that supports advisors using a proprietary translation (like our own Polyglot) to work in new languages using AI.

Alternatively, a business might look at an option to outsource customer service to a different country, in a different time zone, one in which they have easy access to bilingual advisors. The costs will be higher than utilizing AI but the risks are lower.

What to consider when designing a service strategy

As we’ve seen, for any client setting out to re-think their customer service strategy, it’s good to have a roadmap to guide them through the decisions and choices they will need to make. Each market has different aspects to consider, whether it’s cultural nuances or infrastructure maturity. The how and the where that a business opts for will reflect all of that, and the

myriad decisions and choices they need to make. There’s a lot to consider.

It’s why we’ve developed Webhelp Anywhere, the framework for our customer service operating model that guides a business through the decisions it needs to make (and gives them the tools to implement the outcomes), based on the kind of services they want to provide for their customers.

Webhelp Anywhere is the complete customer service methodology we developed out of COVID, on seeing how the pandemic changed the paradigm for working anywhere. Using it, you can design your future CX operating model and make sure it has the right people in the right place at the right time, complete with a flexible, scalable hybrid-cloud platform to deliver it. Let’s sample some of the considerations you’ll need to make:

What do you want to be for your customers? What’s the service you want to provide them? How do you want to provide it? What are the brand promises your company is making to its customers – and you should be making some – that must be delivered?

On the flipside, what do customers need to talk to your brand about? Do they align with where you think you can add value? Or are you servicing customers due to failing to demand the first time? Channel your energy into those channels. Make them your focus. Where you are simply remedying a problem, try and fix it.

How does it link to overall brand strategy? Service strategy has to align with the brand intent in the first place and the service promises you to want to make. How does it link to the overall brand strategy, and its tone of voice and brand values?

How does a brand want to communicate with its customers? Does it want to be hyper-contactable? Use bleeding-edge messaging tools rather than voice. In near real-time? What does demand look like? Where you do need to speak to the customer, how can you make it brilliant?

What IT infrastructure is required? From an IT perspective, there is a lot to consider. So whether it’s a CX team that can operate from a single office or a distributed remote team, or a hybrid of the two, Webhelp Anywhere can help assess and recommend all the infrastructure, security, processing and tools needed.

Look after your people. It’s crucial to support your employees’ health and well-being, and it’s harder to do it remotely. Not impossible by any means but something to consider. Whereas with hybrid working there is the opportunity for a mix with “traditional” face-to-face engagement.

How will training in your people work? You might need to factor in setting up and resourcing remote training for example. How do you keep up to date? More long-term, how will you keep your team engaged?

Using a system like Webhelp Anywhere enables you to take its framework (and the tools and processes that sit behind it), and use it to help you make decisions like this. In turn, these decisions deliver the best outcomes for a particular business and the markets it works in – or need to start working in if they wish to be successful.

As we’ve discussed, there are benefits and trade-offs to be had in designing a service strategy, depending on a company’s appetite for risk and innovation. One of the crucial things any business needs is a BPO partner that’s honest and transparent in those conversations, and a framework to help guide and inform those conversations. If you’d like to dive any deeper into any of this, please feel free to get in touch and let’s start talking.

If you’d like to learn about our approach to designing service strategy, please get in touch by clicking the link below.

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