When many companies are considering outsourcing -- particularly offshoring -- customer service and contact center operations overseas, many believe that cost reduction is top-of-mind for these decisions. While that can play a major role, there is more than meets the eye.
Particularly in today's economy, when it is arguably more important than ever to deepen relationships with customers deemed high-value, ensuring they receive the best possible service is paramount.
Looking to fill this need in the outsourcing space, industry giant Teleperformance recently unveiled its latest offering targeted at companies looking to combine the benefits of offshoring with a special touch for high-value clients: Teleperformance Platinum.
Alan Truit, chief business development officer for Teleperformance, explains his company has seen a growing need among its client base for proving outsourcing does not have to be simply a cost-slashing proposition. "We've been concerned that the industry has become somewhat commodity driven, and there has been lot of pricing pressure based on the economy," he explains. "At the same time, there has been a lot of customer desire and pressure to drive up satisfaction."
In addition to this perfect outsourcing storm, Truit explains there has been a lot of misinformation about the true benefits offshoring can deliver for organizations. "For years, comparisons made with in-house contact centers versus outsourcing that is really apples versus oranges," he says.
Teleperformance wants to change that with Platinum, which executives say is a mix of the latest technology with highly trained agents. The client company's environment is reproduced at agent workstations in order to address myriad service needs when they present themselves.
Truit says this begins by compensating agents at a premium of 30 percent to 50 percent above typical wages, with supervisors paid 20 percent to 30 percent above what they would normally earn. For businesses interested in utilizing Platinum, the vendor comes to the organizatoin and conducts an assessment to determine pain points and opportunities in improvement with regard to customer service. The two parties then agree on predetermined metrics -- Truit says this can include first call resolution, customer satisfaction, or a combination of disparate statistics -- upon which Platinum agents must deliver.
Stephen Loynd, program manager for business process outsourcing (BPO) research at IDC, was able to tour a Teleperformance Platinum facility in Brazil. He believes that the vendor is innovating the way business executives perceive customer service agents. "To walk into any Teleperformance contact center, it tends to be very professional and well-run," he says. "The Platinum section, even more so ... I was very impressed by the appearance and professionalism of the physical environment as well as the agents, the serious and enthusiasm approaching their jobs."
Admitting he hasn't seen this anywhere else yet, Loynd says the issue of keeping offshore agents committed and motivated to deliver high-quality service is a historical problem Teleperformance is trying to tackle. "Attrition tends to be relentless in the customer care industry, with [agents] going from one provider to another," he says. "This is perhaps a way to put a stake in the ground, and give agents a real opportunity to aspire and move up within the organization. This is one of the most real ways that I've seen a provider try to do that while at the same time offer clients a higher level of service."
Truit explains this offering is not vertical-specific, rather it is for organizations looking to retain and grow high-value customers. "Some clients made a conscious decision to segment certain types or levels of customers for higher, more-consistent treatment and care," he says. "Those are definitely perfect situations for the Platinum environment. The reality is with the economy today, most companies don't have the budget to provide this for all customers. But for the higher value ones you want to make sure are handled with very best care, this makes a lot of sense."
Loynd is not sure if other competitors in the BPO space will replicate what Teleperformance is doing, but believes if that is to happen the vendor will find other ways differentiate itself. "One of the reasons why Teleperformance has been at the top of [IDC's] leadership grid for past couple of years now is that it is constantly thinking of ways to innovate not only technology, but also people," he says. "It remembers at the end of the day that as important as technology is ... you must step back and remember the people-aspect blending in as well."
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