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CIO - Call center outsourcing customers are looking for more than just cost cutting from their deals today. They want providers that can help them deliver business outcomes.
The inclusion of value-added services, such as customer retention, multi-channel management and customer analytics is on the rise, according to outsourcing consultancy Everest Group's contact outsourcing annual report.
"With our global economy being more in a growth mode than it has been in last couple of years, companies are focused more now on creating a differentiating experience for their customers," says Katrina Menzigian, Everest Group's vice president of research relations. "And they're expecting the same thing from their service providers."
Call Center Services Making a Comeback
After hitting a low in 2009, buying activity has picked up with the U.S. market for call center services revenue growing 7 to 8 percent in 2012 from $65 billion to $70 billion, according to Everest Group. (The global call center market was worth $300 billion to $350 billion.)
"Customers also understand more than in the past that the customer interaction opportunity is huge in terms of driving growth," Menzigian says. "They want to be smart about how they spend, but they understand that there are other things they need to offer their customers."
One of those things is a seamless experience no matter what channel the consumer uses -- online chat, 800 number, social media, mobile app. "Buyers want to create a positive and productive multi-channel experience for their customers," says Menzigian.
"What we are finding is that it's becoming more prevalent to outsource by channel not by consumer need," says Menzigian. "So you might see outsourcing happening by line of business or product or geography. Service providers are working very hard to position themselves as being able to support that integrated channel experience."
While voice remains the dominant customer service channel, non-voice channels grew 35 to 50 percent in the last year, according to Everest Group. In particular, call center clients are looking for social media management from their providers.
"It's not so much the technology itself as how it is used to effectively shape the customer experience," says Menzigian. "That requires dedicated effort." One service provider, for example, had invested in a social media response center -- a kind of innovation lab that would enable it to move beyond social media monitoring to social media response. Another conducts internal exercises simulating the customer experience across channels.
Call Center Outsourcing Contracts are Broadening in Scope
The Everest Group report, which examines more than 400 call center outsourcing contracts, found a broadening of contact center contract scope over the last two to three years. "In order to create needed differentiation in the market, more service providers are focused on offering clients end-to-end service," says Menzigian. "They're moving beyond the customer interaction touch point to helping fulfill the value chain of that industry."