Category

Customer Experience

AI for Experience: From Customers to Stakeholders | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Automation/RPA/AI, Blog, Customer Experience

Everest Group’s digital services research indicates that 89 percent of enterprises consider customer experience (CX) to be their prime digital adoption driver. But we believe the digital experience needs to address all stakeholders an enterprise touches, not just its customers. We touched on this topic in our Digital Services – Annual Report 2018, which focuses on digital operating models.

Indeed, SAP’s recent acquisition of Qualtrics and LinkedIn’s acquisition of Glint indicates the growing importance of managing not only CX, but also the digital experience of employees, partners, and the society at large.

AI Will Usher in the New Era of the Digital Experience Economy

Given the deluge of data from all these stakeholders and the number of parameters that must be addressed to deliver a superior experience, AI will have to be the core engine powering this digital experience economy. It will allow enterprises to build engaging ecosystems that evolve, learn, implement continuous feedback, and make real time decisions.

 

AI’s Potential in Transforming CX is Vast

Today, most enterprises narrowly view the role of AI in CX as implementing chatbots for customer query resolution or building ML algorithms on top of existing applications to enable a basic level of intelligence. However, AI can be leveraged to deliver very powerful experiences including: predictive analytics to pre-empt behaviors; virtual agents that can respond to emotions; advanced conversational systems to drive human-like interactions with machines; and even to deliver completely new experiences by using AI in conjunction with other technologies such as AR/VR, IoT, etc.

Digital natives are already demonstrating these capabilities. Netflix delivers hyper personalization by providing seemingly as many versions as its number of users. Amazon Go retail stores use AI, computer vision, and cameras to deliver a checkout free experience. And the start-up ecosystem is rampant with examples of cutting-edge innovations. For instance, HyperSurfaces is designing next-gen user experiences by using AI to transform any object to user interfaces.

But focusing just on the customer experience is missing the point, and the opportunity.

 AI in the Employee Experience

AI can, and should, play a central role in reimagining the employee journey to promote engagement, productivity, and safety. For example, software company Workday analyzes 60 data points to predict attrition risk. Humanyze enables enterprises to ascertain if a particular office layout supports teamwork. If meticulously designed and tested, AI algorithms can assist in employee hiring and performance management. With video analytics and advanced algorithms, AI systems can ensure worker safety; combined with automation, they can free up humans to work on more strategic tasks.

AI in the Supplier and Partner Experience

Enterprises also need to include suppliers and other partners in their experience management strategy. Using predictive analytics to automate inventory replenishment, gauge supplier performance, and build channels for two-way feedback are just a few examples. AI will play a key role in designing systems that not only pre-empt behaviors/performance but also ensure automated course correction.

AI in the Society Experience

Last but not least, enterprises cannot consider themselves islands in the environment in which they operate. They must realize that experience is as much about reality as about perception. Someone who has never engaged with an enterprise may have an “experience” perception about that organization. Some organizations’ use of AI is clearly for “social good.” Think smart cities, health monitoring, and disaster management systems. But even organizations that don’t have products or services that are “good” for society must view the general public as an important stakeholder. For example, employees at Google vetoed the company’s decision to engage with the Pentagon for use of ML algorithms for military applications. Similarly, employees at Microsoft raised concerns over the company’s involvement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the U.S.  AI can be leveraged to predict any such moves by pre-empting the impact that a company’s initiatives might have on society at large.

Moving from Customer to Stakeholder Experience

As organizations make the transition to an AI-enabled stakeholder experience, they must bear in mind that a piecemeal approach will not work. This futuristic vision will have to be supported by an enterprise-wide commitment, rigorous and meticulous preparation of data, ongoing monitoring of algorithms, and significant investment. They will have to cover a lot of ground in reimagining the application and infrastructure architecture to make this vision a distinctive reality.

What has been your experience leveraging AI for different stakeholders’ experiences? Please share with us at [email protected] and [email protected].

 

SAP Accelerates Experience Pivot with a $8 billion Bet on Qualtrics | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog, Cloud & Infrastructure, Customer Experience, Mergers & Acquisitions

Just days before 16-year old Qualtrics was due to launch its IPO, SAP announced its acquisition of the customer experience management company in an attempt to bolster its CRM portfolio. Qualtrics, one of the most anticipated tech IPOs of the year, and oversubscribed 13 times due to investor demand, adds to SAP’s arsenal of cloud-based software vendor acquisitions.

Delving into SAP’s Strategic Intent

Seeking transformational opportunities, the acquisition will allow SAP to sit atop the experience economy through the leverage of “X-data” (experience data) and “O-data” (operational data). Moreover, the acquisition will enable SAP to cash in on a rather untapped area that brings together customer, employee, product, and brand feedback to deliver a holistic and seamless customer experience.

SAP had multiple reasons to acquire Qualtrics:

  • First, it combines Qualtrics’ experience data collection system with SAP’s expertise in slicing and dicing operational data
  • Second, it sits conveniently within SAP’s overarching strategy to push C/4 HANA, its cloud-based sales and marketing suite.

SAP’s acquisition history makes it clear it seeks to achieve transformative growth by bolting in capabilities from the companies it acquires. It has garnered a fine reputation when it comes to onboarding acquired companies and realizing increasing gains out of the existing mutual synergies. Its unrelenting focuses on product portfolio/roadmap alignment, cultural integration, and GTM with acquired companies have been commendable.

Here is a look at its past cloud-based software company acquisitions:

SAP has taken a debt to finance the Qualtrics acquisition, making it imperative to show business gains from the move. With Qualtrics on board, it seems SAP’s ambitious cloud growth target (€8.2-8.7 billion by 2020) will receive a shot in the arm. However, the acquisition is expected to close by H1 2019, implying that the investors will have to wait to see returns. Moreover, SAP’s stock price in the past 12 months has dropped by 10.6 percent versus the S&P 500 Index rise of 3.4 percent. While SAP has seen revenue growth, its bottom-line results have been disappointing with a contraction in operating margins (cloud revenues have grown but tend to have a lower margin profile in the beginning.) This is likely to be further exacerbated given the enterprise multiple for this deal.

Fighting the Age-old Enterprise Challenge

Having said that, SAP sits in a solid location to win the war against the age-old enterprise conundrum of integrating back-, middle-, and front-office operations and recognize the operational linkages between the functions. Qualtrics’ experience management platform, known for its predictive modeling capabilities, generating real-time insights, and decentralizing the decision-making process, will certainly augment SAP’s value proposition and messaging for its C/4 HANA sales and marketing cloud. In fact, the mutual synergies between the two companies might put SAP at an equal footing with Salesforce in the CRM space.

While it may seem that SAP has arrived a bit early to the party, given that customer experience management is still a niche area, the market’s expected growth rate and SAP’s timely acquisition decision may allow it to leap-frog IBM and CA Technologies (now acquired by Broadcom), the current leaders in the space. Indeed, over the last couple of years, Qualtrics has pivoted beyond survey and other banal customer sentiment analysis methods to create a SaaS suite capable of:

  • Analyzing experience data to derive insights about employees, business partners, and end-customers
  • Democratizing and unifying analytics across the back-, middle-, and front-office operations
  • Delivering more proactive and predictive insights to alleviate experience inadequacy.

Cognitive Meets Customer Experience Management – The Road Ahead

SAP’s Intelligent Enterprise strategic tenet, enabled by its intelligent cloud suite (S/4 HANA, Fiori), digital platform (SAP HANA, SAP Data Hub, SAP Cloud Platform), and intelligent systems (SAP Leonardo, SAP Analytics Cloud), has allowed customers to embed cutting edge technologies – conversational AI, ML foundation, and cloud platform for blockchain. SAP is already working towards the combination of machine learning and natural language query (NLQ) technology to augment human intelligence, with a vision to drive business agility. Embedding the experience management suite within next-generation Intelligent Enterprise tenet will play a key role in achieving the exponential growth targets by 2020.

Please share your thoughts on this acquisition with us at: [email protected] and [email protected].

Digital Initiatives Yielding Sour GRAPES? Gaps in Reality and Promises | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog, Customer Experience, Digital Transformation

GE’s search for a buyer of GE Digital, its apparent “non-core” business, and UBS’ sale of its Smart Wealth digital wealth management platform are causing the old guard to rejoice and claim that digital businesses are bogus and hogwash. Even Everest Group’s research suggests that 78 percent of enterprises fail to scale their digital initiatives, and don’t realize the benefits they envision.

It is easy to naysay the naysayers. But these developments do merit a discussion. Many enterprises are investing in digital transformation initiatives, and they have a lot to lose if they don’t do it well.

So, what is plaguing enterprises’ digital transformation agenda?

Not Moving the Revenue Needle

Most of the industrial enterprises we engage with as part of our research believe that, even in the coming two decades, 80-90 percent of their business will come from their so called “core” products. Though they acknowledge that their core products are not static and continue to be increasingly connected, software-driven, and service oriented, the incremental impact on revenue is not yet clear. Their business modeling and simulations provide numbers that are sufficient to fund digital initiatives, but are insufficient to move the revenue needle.

Digital Fatigue

Enterprises are realizing they have overdone some of their digital initiatives. Because business impact continues to be hazy, leadership is asking difficult questions. Our research suggests that 45 percent of enterprises fail to get funding for digital projects as the decision makers and purse string holders consider them vanity pursuits. Moreover, even strategic initiatives are struggling as the return on investment horizon is becoming longer as time progresses. Leadership is losing patience.

Challenges in CX to Business Attribution

Our research suggests that 89 percent of enterprises believe digital initiatives improve customer experience (CX). However, they struggle to attribute this improvement to business success. Therefore, business success becomes a secondary metric for such initiatives. Moreover, many enterprises confuse customer service – e.g., contact centers – with customer experience, which thwarts their ability to drive meaningful digital transformation.

We discuss another major reason for the gaps in digital promises versus reality in our research on digital operating models. Various enterprises assumed that digital transformation would create completely different businesses or business models for them. A prime example for comparison was about Google, a search and advertising company, getting into autonomous vehicles. Another was Amazon, an online retailer, getting into cloud services. These enterprises also assumed that they would disrupt their entrenched competition in their own and allied industries, just as Uber and Airbnb did.

Related: Important Lesson For Companies Undertaking Digital Transformation

However, I believe enterprises need such a dose of reality in order to separate the chaff from the wheat. As tech vendors, consultants, and system integrators brand everything digital, enterprises need a solid business case for digital transformation lest they spend precious money on worthless pursuits.

Enterprises’ needs of the hour are to develop a realistic digital transformation plan, rely on incubating multiple projects, be willing to fail fast, and leverage broader industry ecosystem. They must also remember that technology disruption always come with high risks.

Not acting is not an option, as the cost of doing nothing significantly outweighs the initial failures your enterprise may experience. Failing today is better than becoming irrelevant tomorrow.

What has been your digital journey experience? Please share it with me at [email protected].

The CX in CCO has Evolved – How are Pinnacle Enterprises™ Doing it? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog, Customer Experience, Outsourcing, Pricing

There’s no shortage of market discussion around a wide range of customer experience (CX) opportunities and challenges. It’s what everyone in your organization, from IT, to HR, to actual customer care, are talking about. But while ideas about what you should be trying to achieve and why you should care abound, insight on how to actually execute and what delivery outcomes to target is hard to come by.

Use of CCO Services

One approach drawing attention involves the use of contact center outsourcing (CCO) services. The traditional “butts-in-seats” model is evolving to more of a customer experience management (CXM) service model, where outcomes are assessed for impact as much as for cost management. The traditional view has been that the primary value delivered by CCO providers is operational cost savings through efficiencies, labor arbitrage, and scale. But that’s no longer enough. An increasing number of enterprises are raising the bar and looking to their CCO providers for an expanded value proposition targeting digitally-enabled and differentiated CX capabilities. We refer to this engagement approach as Customer Experience Management (CXM) services.

CX Outsourcing Pinnacle EnterprisesTM

We believe that companies really serious about reshaping their brand through memorable CX are more often turning to this new model of CXM services. We call this breed of buyers CX Outsourcing Pinnacle EnterprisesTM. And we believe these enterprises are very intentionally leveraging these advanced CXM services to enhance their corporate-wide CX strategies, and to achieve results more quickly and at lower costs.

We’ve launched a unique study to dig deep and identify how these Pinnacle Enterprises engage CXM services to drive both operational and strategic imperatives for their overall CX strategy. How can this emerging model help enterprises tackle high-value CX objectives such as digital enablement, greater insights on and visibility into consumer wants and behaviors, increased wallet share, and reduced customer effort? What are the mechanisms in play around technology, governance, talent models, pricing models, and others?

This is an all-around different approach to CXM services – a rethinking of which outcomes to target, what to measure, the role of technology, and the new relationship model.

Curious to know what leading CX Outsourcing Pinnacle Enterprises are doing? Want to know where your organization stands compared to others? Everest Group invites you to become part of the research process and take our survey.

Omnichannel CX: Conquering the Challenges | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog, Customer Experience

Customers have stopped thinking about channels. It’s the experience that matters to them now – regardless of the channel they choose at any point of time. Thus, it’s no surprise that 73 percent of buyers responding to Everest Group’s 2016/17 Contact Center Outsourcing (CCO) surveys and interviews rated omnichannel as their top priority for adoption, and that 23 percent of buyers want to integrate the face-to-face customer touchpoints with their contact centers.

Omnichannel is a Priority for Adoption among CCO Buyers

CCO omnichannel CX adoption

Regardless of this intention, very few enterprises have achieved delivering a true omnichannel experience or built competitive advantage through exceptional CX.

Six Challenges Enterprises are Facing in their Transition to Omnichannel CX

Challenge 1: Lack of strategic leadership support: Most omnichannel transition efforts lack direct involvement from senior leadership to prioritize investments, communicate urgency for transition, and mitigate any implementation roadblocks. This contributes to misplaced priorities and execution inefficiencies.

Solution: An internal transition team consisting of experienced senior leadership can be set up to manage and drive the organization-wide change towards omnichannel.

Challenge 2: Inadequate focus on human capital challenges: Omni-channel investment decisions are primarily focused on technologies and solutions. But even with sophisticated tools and technologies in place, lack of investment in human capital makes it difficult to practically achieve the desired outcomes.

Solution: Organizations need to place equal importance on investments in human capital and begin their omnichannel transition efforts by assessing the talent requirements to manage omnichannel CX.

Challenge 3: Organizational skills gap for omnichannel: IT teams often lack the necessary skills to support the integration of tools, channels, and databases. Contact center managers also require upskilling on sophisticated technologies, systems, and processes to effectively manage omnichannel contact centers. Agents, usually trained in supporting individual channels, have limited knowledge to work across multiple channels.

Solution: Enterprises should conduct a gap analysis to identify training requirements for the existing talent at all levels of the organization, with the necessary skills for omni-channel and hire for new profiles. They should also revise employee performance metrics and align the incentives with common omnichannel KPIs

Challenge 4: Historically siloed functions and channels: Lack of integrated front-office functions such as sales, marketing, and customer service with back-office functions such as business intelligence, reporting, procurement, inventory management, etc., makes it impossible to create a unified view about customers.

Solution: Back-to-front office integration is crucial for a great end-to-end customer journey. The first step to achieving this is through customer journey mapping for all end-to-end processes to identify changing behaviors, capture unmet expectations, optimize processes, and encourage cross-functional collaboration.

Challenge 5: Lack of clarity on requirements for data integration from all channels: Enterprises are not clear about the business and operational needs to support data integration across all channels. Management of disparate CRM, voice and other technology systems also hinder integration.

Solution: Enterprises need to assess the implications of data standardization and integration across channels and identify an appropriate mix of tools to achieve integration of disparate datasets and applications.

Challenge 6: Incompatible legacy systems: Most legacy systems in enterprises, especially CRM systems and voice technologies, are incompatible with omnichannel platforms and solutions. This leads to inconsistency in capturing and transferring data to achieve a unified view of customers in a single platform.

Solution: Enterprises should adopt non-invasive omnichannel platforms and solutions that can seamlessly communicate with their legacy systems.

To learn more, check out Everest Group’s two-part study on omnichannel customer experience: “From Multi-Channel to Omni-Channel Customer Experience,” and “Delivering Omni-Channel Customer Experience.” Both include checklists to help enterprises successfully plan and execute their transition to omnichannel. And, please feel free to share your omnichannel experiences with us: Katrina Menzigian ([email protected]) and Jayapriya K ([email protected].)

CCO Service Providers Missing Mark on Digital Pivot | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog, Customer Experience

Digital is driving dramatic changes to the contact center outsourcing (CCO) industry. Indeed, our recently completed buyer study – conducted over three years via surveys with more than 140 organizations and a large number of executive interviews – made it abundantly clear that outsourcing drivers are shifting away from the traditional (such as cost savings) to a digital orientation for capabilities such as analytics, access to better technology, and multi-channel solutions. Buyers now expect a lot more from their CCO engagements to delight their digitally-savvy customers.

Digital is driving the future of contact center outsourcing

While the importance of digital drivers has risen, service provider performance has remained below par on the new-age KPIs such as innovation, better insights, and proactiveness. As enterprises are now looking to associate with providers that are customer-centric, innovative, flexible, and able to serve as long-term strategic partners in their growth, providers must differentiate themselves by focusing their attention on improving their performance in these areas.

Digital KPIs leading the trend in Contact Center Outsourcing

So, what do providers need to do to cater to these changes in buyer expectations and, in turn, survive in the fast-evolving contact center outsourcing industry? Here are our three key action steps:

  1. Invest in new-age digital offerings – First, they should invest in new-age technologies and the required processes, roadmaps, and consulting capabilities to support buyers along their adoption paths of these tools. These investments will go a long way in ensuring that they are well placed to meet the expectations of prospective clients.
  2. Be proactive in solutioning – Buyers have highlighted proactiveness as an area of improvement for providers, irrespective of their size. Strong focuses on prescribing and implementing innovative solutions that help buyers achieve their overall business goals can create differentiation and improve buyer satisfaction levels.
  3. Adopt a consultative approach – With innovation and better insights among the top capabilities buyers are seeking from their providers, a consultative engagement approach is critical. As discussed in our previous CCO blog, adopting this type of partnership will assist in providing a seamless customer experience across multiple touchpoints.

To learn more about the evolving contact center buyer expectations and the corresponding provider performance, please read our recently released CCO Market Report 2017: “How Good are CCO Providers in Providing Digital Customer Experience.”

Chatbots are Getting Smarter, and That’s Good News for Contact Centers | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Automation/RPA/AI, Blog, Customer Experience

Enterprises and their contact center operations are increasingly adopting self-service technologies to improve the customer experience. Over the past several years, chatbots have become one of the most embraced. And it’s easy to see why.

chatbots in contact centers

Chatbots are evolving…

First generation chatbots were software programs that could hold a natural conversation on a text-based channel such as chat, email, or social media. Modern day chatbots’ capabilities – interchangeably called virtual agents – have leapfrogged ahead through use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, and Natural Language Processing (NLP), which allow them to understand free flowing language and generate real-time responses. They are no longer bound to a single channel, but instead cover the entire ambit of services, including voice support. This helps them fit well with enterprises’ broader omnichannel strategy, as they can deliver a seamless experience across channels.

chatbots in contact centers 2

…and they know your preferences

Unlike earlier versions, today’s chatbots can even contextualize information in a conversation. Here’s an example:

Jim: I would like to know the status of my flight. It’s booking # PNR AZ12356.
Chatbot: Hi Jim, checking into it. It appears that your flight’s departure will be delayed by 4 hours, due to scheduling changes.
Jim: Can you cancel it and check for an earlier flight in the morning?
Chatbot: Confirming…
As per your request, I have cancelled your flight American Airlines 235 from Boston to New York. Based on your past bookings, I have three suggestions for alternative flights on the same day:

  • Delta 2897: Departs from BOS at 0430 hours and arrives at JFK at 0550 hours
  • Delta 2471: Departs from BOS at 0600 hours and arrives at JFK at 0720 hours
  • Delta 3167: Departs from BOS at 0640 hours and arrives at JFK at 0800 hours

Jim: Book one ticket in the second option.
Chatbot: Confirming availability. Based on your preferences, would you like me to book an aisle seat, and select a bruschetta omelet with coffee for breakfast?
Jim: Yes, that will be great.
Chatbot: Excellent. Your flight Delta 2471 from BOS to JFK will depart at 0600 hours on October 30, 2017. Your seat number is 4C. I have sent a copy of the ticket to your personal email id. Have a safe flight.

Notice how the chatbot contextualized the information based on unstructured and more natural language flow, and offered recommendations based on the user’s past preferences. These degrees of evolution have made chatbots much more self-service capable, and are significantly enhancing the experience that contact centers deliver to their client’s customers.

As with all technologies, chatbots come with risks

The end goal for today’s enterprises is to deliver the best possible omnichannel customer experience. Chatbots can help customers solve problems on their preferred channel of communication (voice and non-voice). However, the technology does have shortcomings. The well-known example of Microsoft’s Tay – a Twitter-based intelligent bot that had to be pulled down within 16 hours of deployment due to offensive tweets – highlights one technology gap that needs to be addressed.

Everest Group’s just released viewpoint entitled, “Chatbots Delivering Enhanced Customer Experience: It’s Easy to Get It Wrong” details how chatbots can fit in enterprises’ omnichannel strategy, the risks they need to be aware of, and how they can mitigate them.

CX and the Philippines: An Evolving Value Proposition | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog, Customer Experience

For the last several years, the Philippines’ value proposition as the leading contact center delivery location has been availability of a large workforce with good language skills and high empathy, at very competitive costs. But to remain the top contact center destination, it will need to evolve its value proposition from customer service delivery to CX delivery.

This is because CX has emerged as a top priority for firms to build a loyal customer base in today’s digital age in which end-consumers are seeking a seamless, quality, personalized experience across channels. To support clients in this quest to deliver a superior customer experience, the contact center industry is transforming from an arbitrage-first to experience-first model. Everest Group research shows that the key to delivering the CX of the future is optimizing a blend of talent and technology.

The primary technology enablers

  • Fortify analytics solutions – Contact centers are blessed with access to a wealth of high-quality data. Customer analytics can help them provide personalized services and real-time support for query resolutions. Operational analytics will allow them to monitor processes, predict future demand, and optimize service elements to achieve the best outcomes.
  • Embrace automation solutions – The first step is using self-service offerings to manage simple queries, followed by leveraging rule-based chatbots and smart IVRs to manage high-volume transactional tasks for maximum automation impact on contact center operations.
  • Focus on delivering omni-channel experience – Delivering a consistent, seamless customer experience requires an integrated view of the customer across all channels. With a more case-driven approach, each interaction that the customer has with the organization feels like part of an ongoing conversation and relationship.

The key talent enablers

While technology advancement will help prepare the groundwork for CX delivery, talent enablers are equally important to ensure a smooth transition:

  • Build the right talent strategy – As contact centers adopt technology on a wider scale, the role their agents play will evolve to focus more on domain and technology expertise. Thus, recruitment and training programs must align to identifying new talent with the right skills, and strengthening existing agent capabilities and knowledge.
  • Rationalize KPIs/metrics – To measure agent performance, contact centers will have to establish metrics and KPIs that focus on digital enablement, business outcomes, and impact on the customer experience.

If you’re currently associated with a contact center in the Philippines, or are considering outsourcing contact center operations to the Philippines, we invite you to join us at the Contact Center Association of the Philippines’ annual conference at Shangri-la’s Boracay Resort & Spa, Boracay Island, Philippines on October 11 and 12. The Contact Islands conference, at which my colleagues Karthik H and Katrina Menzigian will be featured speakers, will focus on the evolving nature of CX, and how the Philippines is matching the pace of the global industry-wide disruption.

Designing an Engagement Model for the Contact Center of the Future | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog, Customer Experience

As the customer experience (CX) is becoming increasingly critical in the contact center space, buyers and service providers must take a significant relook at their engagement model.

Indeed, changing market realities are calling out for greater:

  • agility – to more effectively respond to changing buyer and process requirements
  • innovation – to meet seamless and consistent CX expectations
  • collaboration – to jointly work towards differentiated business and operational outcomes.

Over the past 12 months, Everest Group has had multiple conversations with contact center outsourcing (CCO) buyers and providers about what a more consultative, customer experience-oriented CCO engagement model might look like.  Here’s our view:

CX Contact Center Outsourcing

What are some of the specific differences between the current and the envisioned engagement model? Let’s take a look.

Sales process

Traditional model –Service providers have limited involvement in scoping requirements and shaping the desired outcomes. Thus, they are typically restricted in their RFP responses to mainly familiar core operational requirements and cost management issues.

New model – The new sales process aims to involve service providers earlier in the cycle through a collaborative solutioning phase, which can then shape an RFP that targets both operational gains and business objectives. This approach can lead to more targeted and impactful proposals that drive more value for the client beyond cost savings and core service level agreements (SLAs).

Innovation scope

Traditional model – Delivering a seamless customer experience across multiple channels requires co-innovation between buyers and service providers. The present engagement model falls short of delivering this, as innovation conversations are limited to defined checkpoints rather than happening throughout the process.

New model – The new model will involve a formal innovation cycle that enables buyers to make forward-looking investments, and helps leverage the collective expertise of both parties for continuous innovation. This is an iterative operational process loop that takes into consideration current operations, development of various customer journey maps, identification of process gaps, and implementation of needed changes across people, process, and technology.

Partnerships

Traditional model – Although an increasing number of buyers expect their providers to proactively suggest out-of-the-box solutions that can directly impact their business, providers are often neither given the opportunity to, nor incentivized to, prescribe innovative solutions, due to the existing guideline-based RFP process.

New Model – The new model positions providers to develop a more holistic understanding of buyers’ overall CX challenges and opportunities, enabling them to better identify improvement opportunities.  This, in turn, can lead to improved relationships and a rise in mutual trust, which ultimately leads to more productive, stable, and long-term partnerships.

Of course, the service providers with in-house consulting practices are better positioned than others to weather the disruption in the CCO industry. For example, Sutherland, Teleperformance, and Teletech have already displayed their intent to focus more on CX and move towards a more collaborative engagement with enterprise buyers.

To learn more about the evolving engagement model in the CCO industry, please read our recently released CCO Annual Report 2017: “Disruption is Here: The End of Contact Centers as We Know Them.” And, if you’ve initiated this journey towards the new engagement, or feel we are missing an important element in our view of this model, please email us directly at [email protected] and/or [email protected]

 

Sustainable Service Provider Strategies for Digitalized Contact Centers | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

By | Blog, Customer Experience

Is M&A required for growth in the hyper-competitive, increasingly digitalized contact center outsourcing (CCO) market, or are there still organic growth opportunities available to service providers?

This is a key question we pondered when developing our recently released annual CCO Service Provider Landscape with PEAK Matrix Assessment 2017 report. Before we address that question, let’s first take a look at the numerous changes that are impacting the (CCO) space:

  • Customers are demanding a seamless and consistent customer experience
  • Disruptive technologies are continuously redefining customer and buyer expectations
  • Buyers are shifting their focus towards better insights and increased agent performance
  • There’s a movement towards fewer but more meaningful CCO relationships, including vendor consolidation.

To address these phenomena, service providers continue to rely on acquisitions to bolster their capabilities in order to remain relevant and grow. Some of the large-scale acquisitions in 2015-2016 included those of EGS by Alorica, Minacs by Concentrix, and GoExcellent by Webhelp. Each of these acquisitions were focused on multiple pillars of capability enhancement – expanding geographic reach and delivery footprint, deepening industry focus, and boosting next-gen technology capabilities.

The following exhibit highlights the nature of these multi-capability, and other single capability, acquisitions that took place in the last 12-18 months, and how they are positively impacting the provider’s short- and long-term growth.

 

Contact Center Outsourcing, CCO

 

In addition to M&A activity – which delivers varying degrees of short- and long-term growth – many service providers are increasing their investments in multiple next-gen technology solutions. While these moves result in stronger client relationships that do grow over time, they don’t drive immediate revenue growth; this is often because these very solutions are around lower price point non-voice and self-service offerings which, inherently, challenge the providers’ growth rates.

Given the degree of competitiveness in the CCO market, we believe that M&A will continue to remain intrinsic to the growth of service providers and their capability enhancement strategy. But, as the market evolves and the competitive consolidation wave troughs in the next 12-18, service providers need to prepare themselves for sustained organic growth in the digitally-enabled business environment.

And, circling back to the question with which we opened this blog…organic growth is indeed still possible. Some service providers, such as HCL, HGS, Sutherland Global Services, and WNS, are registering strong organic growth driven by focused internal investments over the last few years. But the way forward for all service providers is to bring together a blend of people, process, and technology changes in order to transform themselves as strategic partners able to support their clients’ quest to achieve best-in-class customer experience.

 

Here are Everest Group’s recommendations for CCO providers’ organic growth strategy:

  • Move towards a consultative-led approach to engage with buyers as strategic partners, and understand key customer pain points and how to improve the customer experience through each one of them
  • Evolve the client engagement model to a more agile and business outcome-oriented sales and solutioning model
  • Invest beyond traditional enabler technologies such as analytics and multi-channel solutions, and focus on next-gen solutions such as robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence. If these capabilities cannot be built in-house, look at partnerships
  • Redesign the agent talent model to achieve the right skill set by relooking at recruitment strategies and learning & development practices to ensure the agent of the future has domain and technology expertise.

The contact center services market is at an inflection point which is creating both challenges and opportunities for service providers. M&A has played a key role helping leading players counter market disruption, but is not a long-term growth path. They need to bring out changes in their outlook, and enhance their capabilities to position themselves as strategic partners for enterprises. How well and swiftly they manage these changes will determine, which providers win in the market, and which ones risk falling off the radar.

To learn more about the growth strategies the leading and contending CCO service providers are employing, please read our report, “CCO Service Provider Landscape with PEAK Matrix Assessment 2017.”