EDS: Staying Customer Focused - Alex Halikias

In a challenging economic climate, the need to provide quality customer solutions has never been more vital. Alex Halikias, BPO services executive at EDS, tells CEO about the current services environment.

CEO: What are the biggest challenges facing organisations when it comes to enhancing service quality in expanding customer-driven markets?

Alex Halikias: Customers expect a higher level of service than in the past, with personalised products. Our clients must meet these expectations in a cost-effective manner.

How does a company like EDS help organisations to provide not only multi-channel, but multilingual, customer care solutions while simultaneously reducing costs?

We work with our clients to segment their customer base. We then offer services based on the most appropriate channel. From a multilingual standpoint, EDS has more than 26,000 contact centre agents supporting over 450 clients in 26 countries, speaking more than 48 languages. We have established centres in locations that provide multilingual capabilities. An example is our centre in Budapest, Hungary, where we cover 12 European languages.

How important is the contact centre in establishing competitive differentiation and building customer loyalty?

Improving customer satisfaction and loyalty is imperative in a world of increasingly sophisticated and demanding consumers. The contact centre is one of the primary intersection points between you and your customer. It must provide customers with a positive experience during each interaction.

At the same time, customer transactions have become more complex. The contact centre must be structured so that every step of the customer’s lifecycle (learn, shop, purchase, receive, use, maintain/upgrade, and extend/dispose) is supported by a matching contact centre function.

How is new technology influencing CRM?

We have established a leveraged CRM technology ecosystem to provide the means for managing the contact centre, routing calls or interactions, monitoring the performance, and developing our resources. This ecosystem includes technology from leading companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, Avaya, Cisco, Genesys and others.

In analyst Datamonitor's recent report, technology reliability was cited as the leading pain point for contact centre operators. EDS’ technology platform and ‘zero outages mindset’ provide embedded security and business continuity countermeasures.

What are the main steps necessary to transform a business into a customercentric operation?

First, it is critical to assess and correct short-term operational issues. Establishing consistency helps reduce costs and mitigate risks. Secondly, we work to establish processes that focus on driving customer satisfaction and loyalty. Finally, we provide customer personalisation, segmentation and knowledge management to ensure a differentiated customer experience. This roadmap increases business value and customer satisfaction.

Where do you see the future of contact centre outsourcing, especially in the challenging economic climate?

We have built our CRM delivery capability based on EDS’ BestShore model to offer our global clients the flexibility and service they require. This delivery strategy provides a full range of high-quality, cost-competitive services from targeted offshore, nearshore and onshore locations. Successfully deploying a multi-shoring strategy for contact centre operations requires the capacity to effectively match the right support to the best location at the right price. Our at home partner network, part of BestShore, offers further advantages.

What are the biggest challenges enterprises face when enhancing the experience of their customers?

One of the biggest challenges is ensuring a consistent message and brand identity across all customer-facing channels. Multi-channel consistency requires that you utilise automation tools to route calls to the most appropriate channel.

How important is relationship management in an outsourcing agreement, especially when there are multiple vendors involved?

Multi-vendor management is critical for supporting multiple centres. At EDS we offer contact centre management services that provide governance for the organisation that streamlines the contact centre on behalf of our clients. It integrates people, processes, and technology into a single enterprise solution.

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Alex Halikias, BPO services executive at EDS.