Seventhman Blog

  1. Outsourcing Customer Service in the Digital Age

    "outsourcing customer service"Everyone in business knows that good customer service is not an option; it is a MUST.  When customers are the very blood that’s keeping your organization alive, will it be a smarter option to outsource service to vendors so you can save on cost?  For the past few years, support functions have been a major contributor in globalization as companies outsource their workforce to call center hub spots like India and the Philippines.  Still, the very question these days is how you can find balance in the human and technical side of things when providing service to your customers.

    Customer Service in the 21st Century

    No matter how technology allows for instant connection, there are people who still feel assurance speaking to a live person.  For this reason, contact centers have fully integrated online, mobile, social and landline communications.  This means monitoring customer queries and conversations online and offline, 24×7 – from phone queries, call routing, live chat, fax, website queries, emails, SMS, mobile touch points, interactive voice response (IVR) and social networks like Facebook, Twitter..  Whether you choose to outsource to vendors here or abroad, or hire the services of a home-based agent is not the focus these days.  Those who provide an awesome customer service knows that empowering your team to personalize each call for help will win your business more loyalty.  Your front-liners must reflect your genuine interest to help and add value to your customers.

    Motivating your team to go beyond the usual service metrics and customer satisfaction scores can be tough if you’re working with a hundred or more.  Are you ready to encourage them to take chances in making your customers happy?  Read This First:  To Create Innovation, You Must Inspire Loyalty First

    The Rise of Unsourcing

    You probably haven’t heard of this word yet and many are speculating it to be the next gen of customer support.  Instead of outsourcing support to a third party, the company sets up an online community that enables peer-to-peer support among its users.  Not only will customers get help from those with the same experience, but they get to interact with someone who’s local.  This way, advocates of unsourcing can lessen instances of irate customers and minimize the cost of customer service via outsourcing.  This knowledge-sharing is further encouraged through gamification, like awarding badges to top contributors and giving out perks.  Still, there are limits to this where confidential data is concerned, like billing.  Will this mark the end of outsourcing services as we know it?  Too soon to tell, I’d say.

    Should You Still Outsource Customer Service?

    The answer is YES – if only you understand how to do it right.  You have to carefully analyze the risks and benefits, the skills and resources you will need.  It’s not an easy path or a band aid fix to your business problems.  It’s stepping away from the usual cost saving notion and thinking about ways on how to manage customer relationships for real.  Just in case, you need to have that realistic approach before you even sign that contract with your vendor.  The key to a successful customer service lies not in training your team to deal with irate calls or tough questions; it’s all about teaching them how to listen to your customers’ wants and needs.

    It’s an evolving process.

  2. Top 3 Qualities of a Great Customer Service Team Revealed

    "winning customer service team"Trust is the keystone where everything else comes into place when it comes to business.  You hired your team because you trust them to do their job.  But with trust, comes expectations that need to be met and most often, risks were overlooked.  The truth is that trust alone can’t guarantee your safety from cyber liability – from social media blunders, password mismanagement and data loss on unsecured mobile networks.  But the greatest burden of them all is how you can trust your employees to solve your customers’ problems.  Do you even measure what really matters most to your customers?

    Balancing Quality and Quantity

    In my participation on this #custserv weekly chat, most often, the brand name Zappos is mentioned, all in the name of customer service.  My curiosity got the best of me so I took on my sleuthing hat to examine further.  I have discovered that unlike your regular contact centers, Zappos don’t focus much on cost, but the opportunity to market.  This is why they don’t follow the usual call metrics where time per call is measured.  Instead of getting customers off the phone quickly, they take the customer experience to the next level by creating that ‘intimate’ level in building a relationship that speaks loyalty.  Isn’t that how business should be done?  Now, I understand why folks hoist their glasses in salutation.

    What Should You Expect from Your Customer Service Department?

    Whether you have an in-house team or an outsourced contact center handling customer service queries, you have to make sure that:

    1. They Have Total Commitment to Quality

    Because no two customers are alike, your customer service team should be able to assist in the best way they can and exceed customers’ needs, even after sales.  This can be achieved through proactive listening and taking responsibility in assuring the customers of finding a solution to their problems.

    2.  They are NOT afraid to talk to Unhappy Customers

    It’s every contact center representative’s nightmare to attend to an irate caller.  Take note that your most important source of improvement comes from those who are not satisfied with your product or service – their feedback can be an invaluable tool for business growth.  Your team shouldn’t just listen, but seek for a permanent fix.  It doesn’t have to mean giving away freebies all the time just to appease frustrated customers.

    3.  They are Passionate in Bringing Customers In

    It’s tough to get a hundred or thousands to be motivated about what they do.  Great customer service goes beyond training and call scripts.  While having a standard response may save on time, it does hurt employee morale in the long term.  Trust your agents to come up with small ways of bringing that ‘wow’ factor that goes a long way.  And when they do bring in more sales and retain subscribers from closing their accounts, it’s high time that you reward your people for these wow moments.

    Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to step in your customers’ shoes to get a clear picture of the service they’re getting.  The next time you plan a revamp of how your customer service team works, just stick to one goal in mind:  Solve problems, for real.

    It doesn’t have to be complicated…

  3. Outsourcing and Job Creation: A Two-Way Street!

    "outsourcing"I have always wondered if the world today can survive without outsourcing and if it can, just how will the economy look.  Last year, I have asked a couple of folks if they think that outsourcing is a one way street ( see responses here ) and I’m amazed at the clashing insights I have received, and each answer has a point to make.  It’s pretty much obvious that the term ‘outsourcing’ is still a misnomer for many and the debate over this topic grows with favor ( and disdain ).  It’s not really a question of how emerging outsourcing destinations can become more attractive to investors, but more of a question on how to get jobs back to the U.S. – and if the latter is even possible to start with.

    Outsourcing: The Beginning of a One-Way Exodus

    Like many people who have asked the same question, they are inclined to think that outsourced jobs aren’t coming back, that unemployment rate will soar higher.  This may be said in the manufacturing industry where we see factories shut down and work is outsourced offshore to cut down on costs while staying competitive.  Should we blame the demand for a faster, cheaper and better product these days?  When customers demand the best value for the best price, most often, sacrifices are made and for this reason, repetitive tasks ( and a large number of it ) are outsourced and may never come back.  It’s simply a play of numbers, where lower wages and operating costs in developing countries tip the scales.  More American workers are out of work while outsourced work is reaching a saturation point. Before, it’s only low-skilled jobs which are outsourced overseas but now, we are experiencing a loss in intellectual capital as highly-skilled work is sought outside.  Is it lack of talent onshore that finally drives businesses to seek skills offshore?

    A Peek at Outsourcing’s Controversial Loophole

    While many fear that jobs won’t be coming back, there are those who say that offshore outsourcing is a two-way street.  In this age of globalization, many firms are doing businesses across the globe and this means creating jobs in first world countries too.  Just take a look at India’s Infosys with onshore facilities in the U.S.  Then, there are multinational firms who are insourcing as they do outsourcing.  Small businesses have also reaped rewards in finding help offshore so they can grow in a competitive market.  Not only can they control capital costs and increase productivity while reducing labor costs, but outsourcing helps them focus on their core business so they can start on new projects much faster than before.  Yes, there were failures along the way and yet, many are transforming their business model in a flat world.

    It All Comes Down to Cost, Quality and Time

    Going back to the question if outsourcing is a one-way street, I’d rather say that it isn’t.  In the end, it doesn’t matter where you source, for whatever investment is made will always come back in new forms ( jobs, companies, business opportunities ).  Perhaps, western media may be biased in educating people about facts where matters of outsourcing offshore is concerned.  Besides, there are other reasons why companies outsource and it is directly proportional to attrition rate.  We  should also be asking why people change jobs too.  Let us start asking ourselves how we can deliver the best service, a class-A quality product… in the shortest time at the right cost to satisfy our customers instead.. What do you think?