Outsourcing In The Era Of Customer Centricity
Some businesses are still dwelling on the stigma associated with customer contact outsourcing.
Customer-centric ones, on the other hand, are embracing the pivotal role outsourcers can play in elevating the customer experience.
From new channels, to complex technology, to data protection concerns, to workforce transformations, to rising customer demands, customer-facing organizations are facing a myriad of challenges. Attempting to overcome each challenge from within can be costly and cumbersome, if not impossible.
By partnering with credible, customer-centric, innovative third parties, organizations can ease the burden. They can tap into the power of these organizations to quickly – and successfully – address specific (and overarching) customer contact needs.
When pursuing partners, organizations cannot ignore the “credible, customer-centric, innovative” requirement. Their relationship with customers – and reputation within the industry – is on the line within each and every interaction. Their outsourcing partners must be gung-ho about satisfying customers – and wholly capturing the spirit of the brand.
Acquire has worked to establish itself as an ideal business partner – the kind that elevates customer experience operations rather than furthers negative perceptions about outsourcing. Its efforts have paid off; the organization made the IAOP’s Global Outsourcing 100 in 2017 and 2018.
CEO Scott Stavretis recently joined CCW Digital to discuss the achievement – and Acquire’s vision.
Acquire BPO just made the Global Outsourcing 100 list for a second consecutive year. What does that distinction mean to your organization?
The Acquire team is made up over 7000 individuals that all have made remarkable contributions to our company. Receiving this great recognition year on year highlights to our entire team that our work is valued and we’re succeeding in delivering great outcomes to our clients.
The distinction also helps confirm that from the company we started just over a decade ago, we’re now recognized, can compete AND WIN on a global stage.
What qualities do you believe resulted in your placement last year?
Acquire is a values‐led people business. Our success is driven by our key asset—our people. Our team is laser‐focused on delivering the best outcomes for our clients. We’re never complacent and always push the boundaries to find innovative and smart ways to deliver the best solution for our clients. Sometimes this comes as a short‐term detriment to our revenue as we constantly find ways to improve our client’s processes and streamline their business functions. This continuous improvement eliminates cost for them and often revenue for us. However, we know that in the long run, this will amplify our growth and enable us to become true partners of our clients.
What improvements did you make this year? Were there any lingering challenges you finally conquered? Any specific initiatives and/or innovations worth celebrating?
We have always focused on building the best systems to help our clients improve their business processes. Over the last year, we migrated those various parts of our business that developed innovative business solutions to a new Automation and Intelligence business unit. This business unit has a strict mandate—to cannibalize our contact center and back office revenue. Being a privately‐owned business, we’re able to truly have this unique mandate which will see the new business unit lower our traditional labor‐driven revenue by focusing on automating our clients’ business processes. Not only is it best to do this before someone else does, we know we’ll continue to show the value our clients need to grow their business and in turn, ours will grow with them.
What challenges are you still working to overcome?
As we operate in a fast‐paced environment with a workforce of over 7000 full‐ time employees across 12 locations around the globe and across multiple time zones, team communication and collaboration are always challenges. This is an area, especially as a leadership team, that we always need to be mindful of. And while we have implemented new software and systems of late to help aid the collaboration between the teams, there is still nothing like face‐to‐face discussion and training. Therefore, we all need to travel extensively to ensure the business continues to operate as one. This, at times, can be challenging, but a challenge well worth accepting.
Let's focus more broadly on the role of outsourcing. There's no denying the practice has developed a stigma in the customer contact space. Why is it important for businesses to dismiss that stigma ‐ and embrace outsourcing in their quest for customer centricity?
When companies get outsourcing right, it’s an absolute asset to their business. The companies that have a strong appetite for growth know the best way to maintain this growth is to focus on their core business and leave the customer interactions with the outsourcers that are best equipped to deliver on their customer demands. The right outsourcers can invest much more heavily in customer‐centric systems and really understand the voice of the customer and provide that feedback through to the client’s business operations. Not just to the contract stakeholders, but as a respected partner, they are able to deliver and work with all operational areas of the client’s business as if the outsourcer is part of the business. One of our great operating models is called Co‐Sourcing and this is where our clients and us really join as partners to deliver customer contact solutions to their customers.
On the other hand, enormous issues can occur when companies partner in the wrong way with their outsourcer. This happens as both parties attempt to manage a relationship purely through contracts and KPIs. This can be disastrous to all involved as the contracts and KPIs cannot adapt quick enough to the constantly changing customer environment.
Today's version of contact center outsourcing is not strictly about "random representatives in another country answering tech support calls." It involves assisting with the full spectrum of business processes. What are some particularly innovative ways outsourcers like Acquire are contributing to stronger customer journeys?
Acquire provides the full spectrum of outsourcing through our offshore teams. The functions are not only limited to the traditional customer care and phone‐based support functions. As a true partner of our clients, we become an offshore extension of their business. We work with them, looking at all functions within their business, and recommend what can be offshored to capitalize on the benefits of better processes, more advanced systems and of course, cost benefits that outsourcing can provide. Today, we manage, from the people side, the typical non‐face‐to‐face customer transitions, from customer care to support, retention and sales and all other aspects of people services, including financial services, such as payroll, accounts payable and receivable, bookkeeping, as well as advanced IT areas including software development, data scientists and analysts and marketing functions such as design, animation and digital performance advertising. We also manage and look after business processes through systems and robotics that don’t have or have very little human interaction.
How can outsourcing help achieve the following goals?
Acting on voice of the customer
When companies know how customers are feeling, taking steps to translate this into service improvement is key. Omnichannel platforms and QA tools can provide 360 views of live channels of customer feedback, survey responses, comments and ratings after each interaction.
Translating that feedback into actionable insight will be a successful combination of human touch and technology. Technology can help integrate all feedback channels and perform actions that meet and improve customer expectations, such as creating automated workflows to improve CX and help frontline staff understand what they need to do to improve.
Digital transformation and omnichannel engagement
Omnichannel environments are the basic foundations for customer engagement nowadays. End consumers expect to engage with businesses when they want and how they want and therefore you need to have a holistic approach and blended solutions across all channels.
Today, it’s about moving beyond basic digital to the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to eliminate the traditional consumer‐to‐agent interactions and to not only serve your consumers how they want but to pre‐empt what their interactions and demands may be.
Implementing artificial intelligence and other cutting‐edge technology:
Our Automation & Intelligence business provides a holistic approach to automation and AI. Using the latest technology through our aggregation layer of solutions, we provide AI and RPA across our client’s business processes, then leverage the ability of machine‐learning to continuously improve those functions. Our data intelligence insights highlight where improvement can be made, and the processes are adapted accordingly.
Today we enable our client’s consumers to interact via much more than the traditional methods, including via home assistance or smart speakers such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home and Apple’s HomePod, where we enable consumers to not only interact but also buy products and manage their services and subscriptions. We can also ensure consumers are not bothered with repetitive functions such as verifying who they are if they do decide to call, through our voice biometrics system that recognizes them via their unique voiceprint. We also provide real‐time speech analytics offering back to our clients where they can get real‐time feedback on trends and insights of what is happening.
Customer data security
Data security is paramount to all businesses now days. We all understand the importance of personal data security and therefore ensure compliance and security is at the forefront of everything we do. We’re compliant with some of the strictest global standards including SOC II Type 2 and we’re one of a few known companies that have global PCI certification. As a provider to many industries across multiple jurisdictions, we also need to manage and be compliant with a range of jurisdictional and industry‐based data security regimes.
When evaluating outsourcers, many customer contact leaders consider the brand reputation impact. What are some recommendations for building a partnership with outsourcers to ensure they accurately and effectively represent the brand?
Building the right partnership involves complete transparency of needs and requirements between the outsourcer and service provider. One product solution we have created is our Co‐Sourcing model which allows companies to leverage the benefits of outsourcing and offshoring, by engaging us for our talent personnel, system, support and infrastructure while giving the client significant day‐to‐day involvement over the direction and culture of the team. For clients that have the resources and desire, this can be a perfect solution to ensure they maintain a presence over brand reputation while gaining all the benefits that an offshore outsourcing provide such as ourselves can provide.