EDS: Keep the Customer in Focus - Steve Ditto

A tight market is no reason to skimp on excellent customer service. However, as Steve Ditto of EDS, an HP company, explains to CEO, the use of customer management outsourcing can provide the results companies need in hard times.

Many companies are facing the toughest economic climate in generations. Driven by the crumbling housing sector and seizure of the global credit markets, economies the world over have slipped into retrenchment and recession.

In the face of these changes, organisations may be tempted to reduce the level of service and support they extend to customers in stores and through contact centres.

However, reducing customer service is the last thing companies should do in a downturn. When customers receive multiple offers from aggressive competitors, they expect their current suppliers to react based on their perceived value. As companies risk finding out, customers are placing service above brand when making their decisions and are so sensitive they will switch supplier at the first sign of poor service, usually without providing any explanation or warning.

Customers are the most important thing companies need to survive and succeed in a shrinking economy. For that reason, astute executives recognise the need to make prudent, strategic investments in customer service. Here’s the good news: by partnering with outsourcers that specialise in customer management, organisations can achieve results faster and create a more manageable and predictable cost structure while improving customer experience and enhancing their product and service value.

A reliable outsourcing partner can consolidate and streamline the contact centre footprint, while ensuring customers are served by agents with the right languages, skills and cost points. This is achieved through the leverage of vendor-owned technology and the application of network and data centre resources to quickly and economically deliver a standardised and consolidated operating environment.

Managed technology services allow organisations to reduce capital requirements, create a variable cost structure and obtain significant service improvements. By leveraging software as a service, companies are able to quickly and economically deploy new applications, manage sales and satisfy customers. They can also reduce costs and drive increased revenues by automating many customer interactions. ‘Click-to-talk’, for example, enables website visitors to bypass IVR menus to reach an agent when required.

Service solution

Forward-looking organisations are also successfully applying outsourcing and self-service to better serve their highest-value customers. Indeed, experienced outsourcers can help build, implement and manage a multichannel customer service capability, thereby accelerating service delivery and allowing consumers to communicate via the channel of their choice.

For the delivery of proactive communications such as status updates, reminders and other outbound messages, an outsourcer can provide the required technology and applications. Outsourcers can also improve a company's performance by moving towards a ‘virtual' contact centre-model, capable of linking customers to the best resource within a company, at a remote home/office or at an outsource partner location.

Outsourcers can also provide broad pools of well-educated, well-trained, home-based workers capable of providing a flexible, cost-efficient alternative to traditional bricks-and mortar contact centre operations.

Outsourcers can also provide centralised data management, integrated technologies and applications, and more usable reports and dashboards enabling organisations to optimise their customer's experience while improving bottom-line performance.

Because many organisations rely on multiple vendors to deliver customer services, an experienced outsource partner can help manage supplier networks, improve performance and reduce costs. Advanced data capture and analytic and decision support solutions can also be used to deliver better customer service, improving an organisation's revenue and profitability.

By outsourcing selected customer-oriented technologies and business processes, organisations can weather the current economic downturn, retain their customers and position themselves to succeed in the projected recovery.

Steve Ditto of EDS.