Which customer service model is right for your business?

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PHOTO: Charles Deluvio


When it comes to innovative workplace design, the contact center, the contact center, is not known to break new ground. Long associated with rigid work schedules and rigid environments, the contact center has been a much maligned part of the industry. Recognizing that some employees wanted to work outside the confines of the contact center, many began to allow employees to work from home.

The real evolution of the contact center, however, is happening right now, as brands and tech companies are leveraging the odd-job economy to improve customer service in a cost-effective way. The pandemic will only accelerate the use of customer service at concerts: more than half of employees Pew Research Center survey said that, given the option, they would like to continue working from home.

Currently, the customer service industry benefits from concert customer service in three ways:

  • A subset of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) that relies heavily on on-demand workers to handle customer service requests, a model known to be problematic for both workers and brands that they serve.
  • “Superfans” from the crowd who use their personal experience with a brand to meet customer service demands, a model with natural limits.
  • The Human Cloud, an emerging adaptive working model that is expected to have a transformative impact on the way customer service is delivered.

Traditional Gig vs Human Cloud model customer service

The Gig BPO customer service model

Much of the BPO customer service model relies on outsourced customer service representatives to provide 24/7/365 customer service coverage. This dependence has helped businesses achieve scale while providing broader coverage and potentially shorter response times.

Ironically, the outsourced construction of these BPOs does not allow the flexibility that businesses and on-demand workers seek. They rely on workforce planning, much like internal contact centers, prohibiting scalability and requiring long-term contracts that make it difficult for companies to scale up or down. quickly according to fluctuations in customer demand in a cost-effective manner. In essence, this construction reproduces the limits of an internal contact center model.

Glassdoor reviews will tell you that the flexibility you want doesn’t always extend to current workers. Concerns have escalated due to worker complaints about BPOs that force workers to set up their own businesses in order to do business with them, forcing them to make expensive investments in specific equipment and devoting time and attention. training for which they are not paid.

Related article: Customer Service Friction: A Double Edged Sword

The traditional participatory source Superfan model

Superfans are a hard-earned gift for any brand. These passionate brand voices use their social media channels to amplify and advocate for their favorite products and services. Some concert customer service platforms take this fandom to a new level, using superfans as an extension of customer service teams.

While fans can express brand appreciation and voice for the product experience, there are some distinct limitations. The reliance on the knowledge of powerful tribal users is constrained by personal preferences and opinions which can become static, leaving some superfans ill-prepared to adapt as brands rapidly evolve their products and messaging.

By its nature, this model takes advantage of a shallow labor pool, leaving the burden of recruiting talent on the brands themselves. It works for companies that can look to their communities of customers and partners who have fans ready to take on this work, but if a company doesn’t have that community with in-depth knowledge of products and services, then this approach is. a non-starter. And if a business has a substantial pool of super fans, without a sophisticated unified communications platform, then scaling that medium remains a challenge, providing 24/7/365 digital coverage that is both competent and capable. responsive. Such inherent limitations could make it difficult to generalize this concerted approach, used by companies of all sizes.

Related article: Apple doesn’t hide its customer community, so why are you doing it?

And then: the human cloud model

The alternative that is growing in popularity and opening up a new path in the world of customer support is the Human Cloud.

The fastest growing subset of today’s tech-powered odd-job economy, the Human Cloud, is an emerging set of work models that help establish and complement modalities of work. work of different types (including payment of workers) entirely through a digital / online platform.

The technology platform is the key to the Human Cloud customer service model. The platform allows workers to work accepting digital customer service tickets with machine learning-based guidance that is provided at the moment. In other words, without training, a gig worker can log into the platform and take a ticket from any brand and respond immediately based on the advice that appears on their screen, whether it’s a question on a return policy, product availability, order status … you name it. They will have the necessary answers and they will be served in the look and tone of the brand.

This technological model makes it easy for companies and workers to take advantage of the flexibility inherent in the system. Companies can increase the number of requests they share through this technology platform as they see fit and workers can connect whenever and wherever they want, responding to as many customer requests as they want. Ticket-based payment resolution also supports model scalability.

In customer service, workers who adopt the Human Cloud model are often highly educated, underemployed talents who cannot do traditional jobs or even many non-traditional jobs: stay-at-home parents, for example, or individuals. whose work partners require long journeys. They’re guided on everything from product and service information to brand voice, by advanced AI and machine learning tools, meaning they don’t need training. The digital model means that workers only need to connect to the cloud via their computer: no expense for specialized equipment.

There is an incredible sense of worth that a worker gains when not only having the power to choose where and when to work, but doing so in the context of a team that sees, appreciates and supports them. . Treating them like your own customers is one way to make sure they feel good about their work and your organization.

Related article: Call Center Employees, Customer Experience Superheroes

Considerations When Choosing a Customer Service Model

So how do you know if your business is better suited to a traditional model versus a Human Cloud model for your customer service needs? If you experience any of these issues, you can best resolve them with a Human Cloud customer service agent model.

A remote customer service team that doesn’t feel connected to the business and to each other.

Employee experience creates a differentiated brand CX. To thrive with a remote workforce, you need to change the way you think about your employees. Listening and strategically thinking about what you offer them beyond compensation will be critical to long-term success, especially with Gen Z. You can also model how SaaS companies view everyday active users to measure how your employees interact with your systems to gain insight into what adds value to your employee experience and what doesn’t.

When we chatted with our customer service specialists, we realized what they missed most was talking about things that seem so natural in person, but unnatural when working from home. Apps like Slack may seem too formal to solve the water cooler problem. So we switched to a community software called Tribe which looks like an internal version of Facebook, where the team can post vacation photos, introduce themselves, ask a question about a work issue, and more. the team consumes and participates in the exchange. On a recent average of 7 days, 83% of our team are engaged in the community.

A long and costly integration process.

Integration into a traditional contact center can include up to six to eight weeks of training for new agents. This outdated commitment to initial training requires a considerable investment in human and financial resources, considering that the staff turnover rate can reach well over 50% per year. Providing instant advice to your Human Cloud customer service agents not only saves time and money, it is also a great morale booster to have the opportunity to immediately be a productive and productive member. remunerative of a team.

A struggle to evolve without creating arrears.

How does your business deal with seasonal, or even daily, fluctuations in customer service requests? The value of the digital customer experience is that you can meet your customers where they are, but it’s no secret that businesses struggle to respond to 24-hour requests, which is where the most important are. Traditional BPOs have brought relief. But the ability to staff from top to bottom to meet fluctuating demand is well served with the Human Cloud model. Trying to solve a variable problem with fixed resources, like full-time contact center employees or fixed BPO contracts, means the risk of incurring the high fixed costs of underutilized resources. The flexibility inherent in the nature of the Human Cloud model gives businesses the flexibility to scale their customer service experience as needed, often in partnership with a third-party service provider.

The past year has taught us that a successful customer service transformation will depend on an organization’s ability to be flexible, reliable and scalable. Plus, you can’t rule out the human connection. Incorporating the human touch into these elements may seem impossible, but this is where the Human Cloud comes in, enabling companies to fit the transformation of the workforce into a sustainable model that gives workers an outlet for their talents and values ​​those talents in such a way that a purely concert plays out. the model can’t quite match – and doesn’t even try to.

Daniel Rodriguez is a seasoned marketing manager, entrepreneur, family man and musician who uses daily meditation to manage the intense moments in life. He is currently the Marketing Director of Simplr, where he leads a team that is redefining the way brands deliver customer service.

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