Outsource Magazine Issue 29 - (Page 12)

Call Me Maybe? We shine the Outsource spotlight on the customer contact space, looking at some of the biggest challenges facing the industry now and going forward. I n many ways these are great times for the customer contact business, with new technology providing hitherto-unthinkable opportunities for smarter and more effective contact; new delivery locations emerging almost day by day; and expertise and best practice deepening with every interaction. Nevertheless, there are clouds on the horizon; with every opportunity comes a new challenge, some significant – even existential – ones for individual providers and the industry as we know it today alike… Technology As any professional even half-familiar with the customer contact space will be well aware, technology is driving change at an incredible rate in this industry – and in a great many different ways. Most obviously, there is the increased use and capability of technology within traditional call centre operations: more efficient call handling and smarter IVRs, cost-efficient VOIP the increasing deployment of , artificial intelligence. But there is also the deeper transformation being wrought by technology in the form of the move from a call centre to a contact centre philosophy, with more and more customer interactions taking place via purely electronic means as smartphones proliferate (a recent Rapide survey revealed that 86 per cent of businesses believe mobile communications will be indispensable to future customer experience systems), the use of social media explodes (see below) and consumers become more and more happy interacting with non-human touchpoints. There is also the cloud factor – the development of the cloud model is impacting upon customer contact as much as, if not more than, it is anywhere else in business – and the contribution customer contact makes to an organisation’s big data mountain. These of course represent wonderful opportunities for those responsible for customer contact, either in-house or outsourced. But there are also huge challenges being thrown up here. One of course is cost: as businesses are required to cater for an ever-greater array of formats, platforms and types of interactions, so to do their costs rise in areas such as infrastructure, development and training. The complexity of today’s multi-platform content environment is much greater than that at play at the start of the call centre business and this has its attendant price – and risk. Furthermore, there is uncertainty about the long-term viability of any given platform; huge investment might go into adopting certain technologies only to find that they are obsolete within a comparatively short time (the speed of technological advancement here colliding with an increasingly fickle consumer base). The move from call to contact centre is specifically challenging because it calls into question the economics of the whole industry: if the human factor is to be removed as much as possible from customer contact, the traditional pricing models become obsolete – along with things like established career development paths and sought-after skill sets (especially at managerial level). The balance of power in the provider space shifts significantly too, from the suppliers of people – who have access to high-quality affordable talent – to the suppliers of technology. While it’s unlikely even in the long term that the human factor will be removed “The mobile channel is emerging as the consumer’s primary choice for all possible service activity with service providers” – Michael Moaz 12 ●● www.outsourcemagazine.co.uk http://www.outsourcemagazine.co.uk

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Outsource Magazine Issue 29

Call Me Maybe?
Optimising Your supplier Portfolio
Application Development Outsourcing
Are You Fat?
The Future of BPO
Digital by Default
The Face of Finance
Procuring Excellence
The Importance of Being Secure
NOA Round-Up
Steering the Flow
Changing Shape
Legal Transformation
Getting to the Real-Life Win-Win
What’s the Point of Outsourcing?
The Legal View
Top Ten
NelsonHall Round-Up
The Oral Review
Online Round-Up
Inside Source
The Last Word

Outsource Magazine Issue 29