5 Ways to Improve Customer Experience and Cut Costs Onshore and Offshore


Introduction

The last few months have been a disaster for some industries in Australia. The trend for business to relocate to lower cost locations has been well publicised in manufacturing and mining. But the offshoring trend in back office and customer facing work, has been just as profound in many other industries, over the last five years.

As a business, we are agnostic about offshoring. If companies have pulled all the other levers that they can pull to cut costs and still need further savings, then of course it may make sense (see papers The Myth that Offshoring is the Only Way to Cut Costs Quickly and other paper Offshoring: 5 Things to get Right). However, three of the examples in this paper demonstrate that major savings are possible from which the customer benefits without going offshore. The last two examples illustrate ways of making offshore work even better, so that customers get better experiences as well as the organisation.

Case 1: Complaints Process Initiation: Shrink the Call – Everyone Wins

In this organisation, the contact centre was a key first point of contact to initiate the process for complaints investigation. They seemed to be working under the false assumption that the more they told the customer, the better the experience. We didn’t agree. This was a grudge call. The customer wanted resolution, process certainty and then to get back to their lives. By rethinking every aspect of the call, the organisation managed to save the customer nine minutes of effort. The organisation got 60% more capacity and the staff also felt better, as the right way to do their job was now far clearer.

Case 2: Insurance Claims Process: Back to Front Re-engineering – Make the Work Disappear

We think everyone would agree that work elimination is even better than offshoring; because everyone wins. This example is from an insurance claims process. In the old world, every call would require downstream effort from a whole series of expert areas. By rethinking the process, the company “brought the work forward”, hence ‘Back to Front (office) Re-engineering’ and was able to get the work done on the call. That wasn’t easy. It meant rethinking the process, the business rules and the associated risks, but the results were better for everyone. Many more customers got their claim processed without any further contact and it freed up the downstream experts for more complicated cases. The chart below shows the decreased ow of work to the downstream teams in the two months after this change.

Case 3: Back Of Office Problem Investigation: Leverage the Experts to Cut Demand and Backlog

In this example, the company had severe backlogs in the processes that investigated customer problems. Work on hand was rising and customers were waiting up to a month before their request was processed. That was unacceptable. The solution didn’t involve more people just two changes. The call centre process was changed to set the customer’s expectations of the process. Secondly, the organisation set up a triage team of experts at a key stage in the process. This expert team resolved problems and reduced the ‘downstream work’ dramatically. The net result was that in six weeks the back log disappeared and work on hand fell dramatically. Clearly the customers won out of this. They got faster resolution and their follow up calls and work fell to sustainable levels. The company also won; while they moved ten experts into this new process, they saved nearly thirty people in the process as a whole.

Case 4: Back Of Office Exception Handling: Show the Offshore Operation How to Operate Smarter!

In this example, a major utility company had trusted an offshore outsource provider with all its back of office processes. While that saved money, it didn’t improve things for the customer unless they hit their targets. One crucial goal was to get through “today’s work today”. This meant that customers were getting a fast turnaround on any request of process. However, the offshore provider seemed stuck at 75% complete “today”.

The trick in solving this problem was teaching the outsourcer how to manage their operation more effectively. They were given an improved operations framework in which they prioritised better and managed work dynamically across the teams. This framework also taught team leaders how to coach their team members to do the work more ef ciently. This new way of working cost less rather than more (as it used the staff more efficiently) and resulted in rapid turnaround of almost all work. The company was happy, the outsourcer was happy and the customers got their work processed within a day.

Case 5: Credit Card Processing: Use Process Definition and Structure to Help Offshore Staff Perform Better

This company like many others had shipped work offshore to a call centre provider. However, the staff in the Philippines struggled with the ambiguity in the process. Calls were extended and customers clearly weren’t happy with all the outcomes. The answer was a combination of a new tiered structure that leveraged the more experienced staff, combined with rede ned processes for handling each call. This was implemented with a new Operations Framework that made sure all the resources of the centre were applied efficiently. The results were instant. Customers saved almost a minute of effort on every call and received more consistent speeds of answer. The outsourcer was delighted to be exceeding the expectations of the client and the company won through improved satisfaction and service levels.

Conclusion:

You may have guessed that we designed all the changes in the examples above. For us, improvements in the customer experience can be tracked through hard measures of customer effort, such as those shown in these cases. To bring about these improvements involves changes to process, structure and management disciplines. These are just a few examples of organisations, which, through our work, have saved money whilst improving the customer experience they deliver. We’re very proud of our track record of results delivery and our reference clients will attest to these outcomes. If you’d like to discuss how we can help your business, please get in touch.

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