Tag: social media

Multi-Channel Solutions – Defining the New Age Contact Centers | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The customer care industry is going through myriad changes, but none as far-reaching and impactful as the rise in the adoption of non-voice channels. Recognizing this shift in customer behavior, enterprises are working to ensure their customers have a seamless experience across the channels of their choice, in order to increase customer acquisition, retention, and loyalty. This change in buyer expectations is having its effect on the global Contact Center Outsourcing (CCO) market as well.

One of the key findings in Everest Group’s Contact Center Outsourcing Annual Report 2015 is an almost 10 percent erosion between 2011 and 2014 in the voice channel’s revenue share, even though it remained the dominant channel of customer interaction. While voice has grown at a sluggish pace (3 percent CAGR between 2011 and 2014), non-voice channels have witnessed robust growth, led by email, which experienced a handsome 22 percent CAGR revenue share growth between 2011 and 2014. Chat and social media account for smaller proportions of non-voice channel revenue, but grew at 43 percent and 53 percent, respectively, in the same period.

CCO revenue across channels over time

Increasing adoption of non-voice channels has also given rise to solutions specifically targeting multi-channel requirements. Everest Group research shows inclusion of channel management as a value-added service had almost tripled from 7 percent of the contracts signed in 2008-2010 to 19 percent in 2013-2014. In fact, multi-channel solutions have become so pervasive that growth opportunities for players supporting the voice channel predominantly are diminishing rapidly. Barring contracts focused on outbound sales services, 60 percent of new contracts focused on operational or value-added services have a non-voice component.  As discussed in our recently published viewpoint, it is becoming increasingly imperative for service providers to design solutions with a portfolio that combines value-added services and non-voice channels.

As service providers make investments to augment their capabilities and build expertise in managing non-voice channels, below are some implications they should keep in mind:

  • Outlining the right shoring strategy. Our research shows a clear move towards onshore delivery as CCO clients increasingly prefer agents closer to home, especially for the voice channel. The changing channel mix will dictate the direction in which the shoring strategies evolve in the future
  • Defining the right skill-sets. Non-voice channels provide productivity gains by allowing agents the opportunity to juggle multiple channels without impacting quality. Service providers must ensure agents are upskilled through the right set of training programs and hiring requirements, which are different from those for voice
  • Leveraging analytics. Non-voice channels are more digital-friendly by definition, and are suited for use of advanced analytics tools. Close alignment of analytics solutions to derive incremental insight and information from the data generated from non-voice channels will be critical
  • Using sophisticated pricing models. Non-voice channels align well with output- and outcome-based pricing models, and have witnessed higher adoption of these pricing models than the voice channel. As they build capabilities on the non-voice front, CCO service providers must also look at how to best align their processes and metrics around non-voice channels to support clients’ desired business and customer experience outcomes. This essentially involves redefining CCO’s value proposition beyond cost savings to include business performance
  • Supporting clients through the journey. CCO clients require guidance and clarity on where to begin the non-voice channel journey, and how to move forward with it. We have already seen consulting practices within BPO firms helping clients confidently undertake this transformative journey, and could be a very critical component in the successful adoption of non-voice channels.

In a heavily commoditized market, non-voice channels give service providers an opportunity to differentiate themselves and stand out from the crowd. While some providers have taken the lead and become front-runners in the multi-channel solutions race, others have more recently started augmenting their capabilities in this space through acquisitions and partnerships. Building capabilities is a key success factor, but as highlighted earlier there are other factors for service providers to consider to ensure they make the best use of these capabilities.

Why Are Organizations Leaning on Contact Center Outsourcing Providers to Tackle Their Social Media Analytics Challenges? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Our last blog on social media analytics outlined the challenges organizations can face in developing and launching their social media analytics capabilities. The challenges ranged from organizational issues to technology solutions. Given that many organizations channel their social media interactions through contact centers, it’s not surprising that an increasing number of companies have turned to contact center outsourcing (CCO) providers to help them get their social media house in order. Here’s why.

Among all non-voice contact center channels, spending on social media support, while the smallest at 3.4%, is the fastest growing, at 53% CAGR. This spending occurs both within existing CCO engagements with expanded scope thatinclude channels beyond social media, as well as those engagements developed specifically around social media interaction. At the same time, Everest Group has seen the inclusion of customer analytics as a defined element of CCO engagement double in the past five years, from 19% of deals including analytics to now 40% inclusion. These two developments are clearly linked.

Realizing the stakes in play of a successful social media effort versus one that fails, clients often seek specific benefits from their working relationship with CCO providers. The table below outlines the key challenges in play and how CCO providers can address these.

Key Client Social Media Challenges and CCO Solutions

Social media challenges and CCO solutions

CCO providers have been on the frontline of social media and analytics adoption – in fact they’re ahead of the curve on this one. Providers have proactively invested in best practices, staff training, and technology capabilities in order to meet clients’ current needs and help them envision the path forward. These engagements will often begin with a consultative phase to determine strategy and run through implementation and service delivery.

One key area of investment by CCO providers has been in enabling technology in support of social media, which can be both proprietary in nature (60%) and through partnership models (40%). Below we capture examples of proprietary technology tools developed by CCO providers specifically to take on their clients’ social media and analytics needs.

Investments in social media and analytics by ownership model

Share of instances

Investment in social media and analytics by ownership model

If you take a close look at these solutions, a few identifiable trends appear:

  • Social media interaction tools and analytics tools tend to be closely paired. The ability for analytics to shape and govern the unstructured nature of social media and drive value from these interactions is a key consideration here
  • CCO providers have taken a total solution approach in order to address the various social media needs of clients including channel monitoring, proactive issue resolution, and integration with other channels
  • Providers of CCO are ahead of the market. More specifically, with the exception of a limited number of mature adopters of social media, client organizations needing social media and analytics support perceive CCO providers as a means to access technology capabilities and expertise they lack internally

The level of investments made by the service providers clearly outpaces that of most organizations and provides a solid starting point for those that like to go-it-alone. Along the evolving frontier of social media and analytics, for some organizations, their CCO providers are valuable scouts leading their explorers to brighter horizons.


Photo credit: Flickr

What’s Holding Back Organizations from Deploying Social Media Analytics in Their Contact Centers? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Adoption of social media as a commercial interaction channel continues forward at a rapid pace, both among consumers and the companies they engage. Nowhere is this impact felt more profoundly than in the contact centers charged with supporting these customers. One of the advantages, and some would say disadvantages, of social media is the vast amount of data generated by every click and every keystroke. A potential treasure trove of information about consumers and their behavior, the social media channel offers the chance to apply analytics to volumes of information only dreamed of in the past. So why aren’t more organizations actively leveraging social media analytics in their contact centers? Why are only a small number of mature social media adopters figuring out how to leverage this channel proactively instead of reactively, to drive their own business agenda? Everest Group research shows there are five main obstacles getting in the way:

  • Stakeholder alignment
  • Immature social media adoption
  • Lack of adoption roadmap
  • Channel integration challenges
  • Shortage of social media and analytics skills

Stakeholder alignment: Unlike past interaction channels, interest in social media cuts across various internal department, including marketing, customer care, and IT. Each department has its own objectives with social media, measures success by different metrics, and often funds and budgets for social media investments independently. These dynamics create complexity and misalignment in how social media is managed.

Immature social media adoption: Where companies stand on the social media adoption continuum greatly impacts the nature of their investments. To date, the more mature social media adopters looking to leverage existing pools of data have implemented the most advanced analytics capabilities. To date the majority of companies continue to focus primarily on their fundamental social media capabilities of interaction, monitoring, and brand perception, with a lesser focus on the associated analytics.

Lack of adoption roadmap: Getting off the social media analytics block is easier said than done for many organizations. Identifying where to start and how to implement analytics effectively to drive business and process value often creates hesitation in some organizations, slowing adoption timelines.

Channel integration challenges: Consumer expectations about an integrated interaction experience continue to grow. Integrating various interaction channels (voice, e-mail, chat, web self-service, mobile) is already high on the corporate priority list for many. However, the public dialogue nature of social media combined with the high volume of data captured create a situation where social media implementation cannot be separated from the corresponding analytics components.

Shortage of social media and analytics skills: The successful implementation of social media and analytics require specialized skills in two distinct categories: the IT professionals that implement and maintain these technologies and the customer care services staff that engage customers via this channel. In both cases, organizations often experience a lack of internal skills and find a shortage of experienced people in the broader market. Again, another obstacle slowing the social media analytics adoption timeline.

No doubt organizations are working their way through these challenges and developing the internal resources to support their social media and analytics strategies. Compared to other interaction channels, social media not only requires analytics to effectively utilize the channel, but also offers the greatest potential for impacting the consumer experience, whether positive or not. We will hear about this topic for quite some time to come. In our next piece on social media analytics, we’ll explore how some organizations are turning to contact center outsourcing providers to shorten their learning curve and get them out of those starting blocks more quickly.

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