BPO, CallCenter, Contact Centre, Customer service, News, Outsourcing, theOutsourcing-guide

The multi-channel challenge

By Martin Conboy

The ability to offer customers the ability to communicate with a brand via a variety of channels has been the Holy Grail for the contact centre and BPO industries for quite some time. Now days customers are multi channel shoppers and business as a whole are struggling to meet the multi-channel expectations of their customers.

But how do you do this while maintaining consistency in the level and quality of service being provided. Adding new channels without a coherent and integrated channel strategy can lead to a chaotic and uncontrolled experience for customers. The exact opposite of what you want.

The goal of multi-channel customer service is to give customers a seamless experience irrespective of the channel they use to contact the organisation. Most companies recognise the importance of it, but acknowledge that they don’t have the systems or processes in place to do it effectively . Thus technology investment is critical to enabling exceptional customer experience. The ability to offer a multi channel experience is now a brand differentiator.

The challenge within

Most organisations cite internal structure as the main challenge. Silos within an enterprise means that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. One may well find that serious departmental brick walls, or silos, exist in the organisation that can hinder its progress in terms of process effectiveness and efficiency – or worse, profitability.

The help desk handling support questions via live chat is not integrated with customer complaints or billing enquiry phone lines. Each departmental silo has its own view of the customer, that’s very different to how the rest of the organisation views them. Attitudes can differ significantly between different sets of departments and industries around a wide range of categories – including timeliness, information quality, trustworthiness, professionalism and impact of service.

As such the customer may feel they are dealing with a different organisation depending on the channel and the type of interaction they require. Adding another channel can more than likely fragment that view even further and frustrate the customer rather than improving their experience.

The complexity of trying to integrate these various channels is enormous, where organisations lose site of the forest because of all the trees. Just maybe it is better to have 2 or 3 channels that are highly effective than a dozen or so that aren’t working so well.

The data challenge

Customers themselves are fickle creatures. They don’t all want the same thing and what they want changes over time. Organisations have access to vast stores of customer data stored in transactional databases, surveys and feedback forms, on emails, social media platforms etc., that can be used to better understand customer behaviour and expectations. But unifying these data sources to provide actionable insight can be tantamount to searching for a needle in a haystack.

Continuous Partial Attention (CPA), is the process of paying simultaneous attention to a number of sources of incoming information, i.e. customer feedback, warehouse withdrawals, and website hits, but at a superficial level.

Linda Stone coined the term in 1998. Author, Steven Berlin Johnson, describes this as a kind of multitasking: “It usually involves skimming the surface of the incoming data; picking out the relevant details and moving on to the next stream. You’re paying attention, but only partially. CPA lets you cast a wider net but it also runs the risk of keeping you from really studying the fish”.

Operating under such a value network might lead a company to “listen too much” to its main customers. As a result, it will not recognise potentially disruptive innovations that serve only marginal customers. Secondly, large companies will not be interested in small markets; they hardly offer significant growth opportunities. Again this will lead companies to completely ignore the disruptive innovation or to wait until the market is “large enough to be attractive”. That is exactly when new entrants attack incumbent’s turf, and by that time it is usually too late.

Don’t try to be all things to all people all at once

Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither is multi-channel customer service. Take the time to evaluate the performance of each channel and how it can be improved and integrated with your other channels based on customer feedback and preferences.

Improve gradually over time rather than attempting too much all at once. Customers are more likely to be impressed by constant gradual improvement than a massive project to re-engineer everything, which might fall by the wayside for being too difficult.

https://econsultancy.com/reports/multichannel-customer-experience-report

Originally Published in the Sauce eNewsletter – theOutsourcing-Guide.com

theOutsourcing-guide.com is the ultimate reference guide for the BPO and outsourcing industries and it will become the most comprehensive resource for organisations looking to engage BPO and outsourcing providers. As well as providing a range of eBooks, articles and whitepapers explaining the various aspects of BPO, theOutsourcing-guide.com provides an online directory of providers segmented by category and location.

theOutsourcing-guide.com is a vehicle for vendors and service providers to showcase their organisations and the outsourcing services they provide. Visit theOutsourcing-guide.com for more information.

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BPO, Contact Centre, Customer Servs, Technology

Dawn of the cloud Robots

RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and the cloud are on a collision course. This collision will have a significant impact on the BPO and outsourcing industries. Originally aimed at automating the actions and processes associated with managing existing software applications and manipulating data, RPA offers significant benefits and opportunities as existing applications are transferred to the cloud.

In a recent article, Jeff Augustin, Managing Director of outsourcing consultancy Alsbridge, was quoted as saying, “Smart robots will increasingly operate in the cloud, and we’ll see a ‘labor-as-a-service’ approach emerge as clients and providers find that intelligent tools and virtual agents can be easily and flexibly hosted on cloud platforms,” Augustin says[i]. “This will build even more momentum and interest in autonomics.”

RPA software can automatically process transactions, manipulate data, trigger responses, and communicate with other systems as necessary. It eliminates the need for people to perform high-volume IT support, workflow, remote infrastructure, and back-office processes, such as those found in finance, accounting, supply chain management, customer service, and human resources.It has the ability to eliminate many of the data entry and back office tasks and activities currently being managed by BPO and outsourcing contracts.When you bring the cloud and BPaaS (Business Process as a Service) into the picture, the level of automation matched with the level of flexibility in managing capacity offers enterprises significant cost savings through improved efficiency.

The original value proposition BPO offered in terms of labour arbitrage, according to Russell Ives Accenture Australia’s Operations Lead,  is fast eroding as the aggressive application of automation reduces headcount across BPO programs.Ives states, “There are two significant implications here, firstly clients are expecting to see more than just labour arbitrage from their BPO provider, as they are looking for a partner who can work with them to apply automation improvements to both retained and outsourced functions – this is no longer optional”.

“Secondly it will change the economics of BPO programs.  Providers will need to recognise and manage for a much smaller tail in the latter years of programs when the impacts of automation have significantly reduced outsourced headcount. Additionally providers will need to identify news sources of value and work with their to clients to establish commercial structures that have the right economic balance between lower value automated processes and knowledge related processes performed by higher skilled agents”.

Be prepared. The robots are coming to the cloud.

[i] http://www.cio.com/article/2864429/outsourcing/10-outsourcing-trends-to-watch-in-2015.html

Originally Published in the Sauce eNewsletter – theOutsourcing-Guide.com

theOutsourcing-guide.com is the ultimate reference guide for the BPO and outsourcing industries and it will become the most comprehensive resource for organisations looking to engage BPO and outsourcing providers. As well as providing a range of eBooks, articles and whitepapers explaining the various aspects of BPO, theOutsourcing-guide.com provides an online directory of providers segmented by category and location.

theOutsourcing-guide.com is a vehicle for vendors and service providers to showcase their organisations and the outsourcing services they provide. Visit theOutsourcing-guide.com for more information.

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BPO, CallCenter, Contact Centre, News, Offshoring, Outsourcing

The Balanced Shore approach

By Mark Atterby

Most leading BPO and outsourcing providers are offering clients flexible outsourcing location options. Datamark research highlights that these location options include at-home; on-site; off-site within the same city; off-site at a lower-cost-of-living city; nearshore; farshore; and blends of these arrangements [i].

It’s all about finding the right skills at the right price and how you manage and integrate them to deliver improved services based on economies of scope. Each scenario has its benefits and disadvantages. That’s why most providers, certainly the larger and more established providers try to use a blended approach.

Global Delivery Model – onshore, nearshore, farshore

A global delivery model allows a BPO provider to access the best talent at the best price in relation to the tasks and processes that need to be managed. The more complex activities that need greater involvement or collaboration with the client may need to be managed by operations situated locally to the client. Tasks that are fairly straight forward can be offshored or nearshored to a cheaper location.

Nearshore options, though not as cheap as an offshore location, may still be cheaper than local operations where strong cultural alignment is necessary. Travel to a nearshore or regional location may also be easier.

Peter Monk, Country Manager from Concentrix, believes that you need to have local operations if you want to be a provider who wants to deliver true innovation and collaboration. To build the teams that need to work together from the different organisations, they need to be in fairly close proximity to each other.

Homeshoring

The deployment of home based agents or homeshoring has become popular over the last decade. It often means reduced costs for the BPO provider as home based workers often provide their own telephone equipment and computer systems. The provider also saves on the associated costs of office space.

Using home based agents that are local to the client and its customer base can overcome the prejudice that is sometimes created from regional accents, mannerisms and rates of speech. Regional government departments and local government may tend to favour providers who employ people in their region.

Home shoring gives people with disabilities, who may not be able to travel to a workplace, the opportunity to work.   Research has highlighted that employees with disabilities often have a higher staff retention rate, which saves recruitment and training costs[ii].

By leveraging the right balance of locations, allows providers to build high quality, flexible and innovative solutions for their clients, yet keep costs down.

[i] https://www.datamark.net/blog/10-business-process-outsourcing-trends-2015

[ii] http://www.dwa.org.au/advantages.htm

theOutsourcing-guide.com is the ultimate reference guide for the BPO and outsourcing industries and it will become the most comprehensive resource for organisations looking to engage BPO and outsourcing providers. As well as providing a range of eBooks, articles and whitepapers explaining the various aspects of BPO, theOutsourcing-guide.com provides an online directory of providers segmented by category and location.

theOutsourcing-guide.com is a vehicle for vendors and service providers to showcase their organisations and the outsourcing services they provide. Visit theOutsourcing-guide.com for more information.

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BPO, Customer service, Human resources, Outsourcing

Learning how to tame your wicked problems

By Martin Conboy

Wicked problems are problems that cannot be solved. But they may be tamed. Obesity, climate change, the war on terror can be classified as wicked problems. To tame these problems the usual problem solving techniques based on rational linear analysis do not work. Customer service, particularly in the age of digital disruption, may be viewed as a wicked problem.

“It is hard to say what the problem is, to define it clearly or to tell where it stops and starts. There is no “right” way to view the problem, no definitive formulation. There are many stakeholders, all with their own frames, which they tend to see as exclusively correct. Ask what the problem is and you will get a different answer from each. Someone can always say that the problem is just a symptom of another problem and that someone will not be wrong. The problem is inter-connected to a lot of other problems; pulling them apart is almost impossible. In a word: it’s a mess.” – Jay Rosen of NYU

The term “wicked problem” was coined in 1973 by UC Berkeley scholars, Rittel and Webber. Essentially a wicked problem is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, conflicting and changing requirements. C. West Churchman, systems scientist, describes wicked problems as “a class of social system problems, which are ill-formulated, where the information is confusing; where there are many clients and decision makers with conflicting values; and where the ramifications in the whole system are thoroughly confusing”.

The ongoing challenge of satisfying and exceeding customer expectations, which vary from customer to customer and are constantly changing, meets the criteria of a wicked problem. In this age of digital disruption, where social media and mobility are redefining the relationship between brands and consumers, organisations need to be more creative and innovative in their approach.

We are seeing a whole new suite of service offerings around the ‘customer experience’ and there are plenty of people claiming to have discovered the holy grail of what defines the customer experience. The challenge is that each and every customer is unique and we can no longer lump customers into the easy to manage, and understand segments of a few years ago.

Within an enterprise there are numerous stakeholders with different objectives, including employees, partners, management and shareholders. They each have different perspectives and aims, which may vary, dramatically from the goals of the company.

There’s the basic conflict of trying to deliver improved service, so as to improve loyalty, value and revenue from customer relationships, versus the costs associated with restructuring the business to offer better service. And the needs and requirements of customers, as individuals and as a group, can be largely hidden from managers and executives within an enterprise.

To solve their customer service issues, which also impact their sales and marketing objectives, organisations try to design and build systems and implement strategies. However, many traditional problem solving and project design approaches do not work. And despite their verbal commitment to innovation and improving the experiences of customers, many organisations remain fairly inert and their initiatives are simply tick-the-box exercises.

According to John Kolko, in his article Wicked Problems: Problems Worth Solving[i], most organisations are focused on one type of problem – differentiation. Innovation entails some form of differentiation or newness. But in product design and product development, tiered releases and differentiation often replace true innovation. Every year there’s a new iPod or iPhone. Every year there’s a new version on a car model. Each new release incorporates only slight or cosmetic changes.

But improvement alone may not be enough. Look at what airbnb or Uber are doing to the hospitality and taxi sectors without actually owning anything. There are macro forces at play that are hard to understand i.e. The Cloud that is disrupting established and proven economic business models.

For most companies it’s all about staying ahead of the competition and ensuring quarterly results. This may very well prove to be very short sighted.

Just recently Apple shipped its 1 billionth mobile device, amazing success by any economic standard, but did anybody stop and think about what this really means? We are now so connected with technology that people are constantly burying themselves in their phones that we seem to have lost the art of real communication. So we had disruptive innovation on a grand scale but lost the ability to talk to each other – a very wicked problem. Depending upon your point of view that might be a good or bad thing!

Characteristics of a wicked problem

Horst Rittel highlights ten characteristics of a wicked problem[ii]:

  1. Wicked problems have no definitive formulation. The customer service issues facing one industry or organisation can be fundamentally different to another.
  2. Every wicked problem is unique.
  3. It’s hard, maybe impossible, to measure or claim success with wicked problems because they bleed into one another, unlike the boundaries of traditional design problems that can be articulated or defined.
  4. Solutions to wicked problems can be only good or bad, not true or false.
  5. There is no template to follow when tackling a wicked problem, although history may provide a guide.
  6. There are multiple explanations for a wicked problem.
  7. Every wicked problem is a symptom of another problem.
  8. No mitigation strategy for a wicked problem has a definitive scientific test because humans invented wicked problems and science exists to understand natural phenomena.
  9. Offering a “solution” to a wicked problem frequently is a “one shot” design effort because a significant intervention changes the design space enough to minimise the ability for trial and error.
  10. Designers attempting to address a wicked problem must be fully responsible for their actions.

How does one tame a wicked problem?

The term wicked problem emerged to address problems in social planning and designing public policy. Design problems are typically wicked because they are often ill defined (no prescribed way forward), involve stakeholders with different perspectives, and have no “right” or “optimal” solution.[iii] Thus wicked problems cannot be solved by the application of standard methods; they demand creative and unique solutions.

To tame a wicked problem requires collaboration and creativity. Processes need to be developed to ensure all stakeholders are involved in finding ways to manage the problem[iv]. This will make the planning process more complex, but it also expands the potential for creativity as well as achieving buy-in from all involved.

The ultimate aim should be to create a shared understanding of the problem and encourage a joint commitment to possible ways of resolving it. Not everyone will agree on what the problem is, but stakeholders should be able to understand one another’s positions well enough to discuss different interpretations of the problem and work together to tackle it.

[i] http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/wicked_problems_problems_worth_solving

[ii] http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/wicked_problems_problems_worth_solving

[iii] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicked_problem

[iv] https://hbr.org/2008/05/strategy-as-a-wicked-problem

Originally Published in the Sauce eNewsletter – theOutsourcing-Guide.com

theOutsourcing-guide.com is the ultimate reference guide for the BPO and outsourcing industries and it will become the most comprehensive resource for organisations looking to engage BPO and outsourcing providers. As well as providing a range of eBooks, articles and whitepapers explaining the various aspects of BPO, theOutsourcing-guide.com provides an online directory of providers segmented by category and location.

theOutsourcing-guide.com is a vehicle for vendors and service providers to showcase their organisations and the outsourcing services they provide. Visit theOutsourcing-guide.com for more information.

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BPO, CallCenter, Customer service, Customer Servs, Social Media

The social dimension of customer relationships III

By Mark Atterby

Social CRM is about generating conversations and dialogue with prospects to build higher value customer relationships. That’s higher value for the customer as well as the organisation. Social media is not simply a vehicle to push out content and your messaging, but a mechanism to receive feedback from customers that can be analysed and used to improve customer strategies.

Social CRM, when implemented properly, allows you to understand what is important to your prospects and customers and what influences their buying decisions. Customers annoyed or frustrated with poor service will vent their displeasure on social media. Making their grievances public and sharing them with their network allows them to finally be heard.  One poor experience can affect the reputation of the organisation with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of others.

In building you Social CRM strategy, don’t get too caught up with the technology. Technology is important, you will need it to automate as many processes as you can. But the most important thing to consider is the goals you want to achieve and defining the processes.

How do you turn a conversation into a customer

There are numerous approaches to Social CRM you can deploy depending on the nature of your business and customers. Regardless of what specific strategies you implement, one thing is for certain, you will need to allocate and train dedicated staff or contact centre teams to be Social CRM specialists.

The key social media activity where CRM intersects is with listening and monitoring conversations. There is a lot of noise created through social media. Sifting through this deluge and identifying the right voice and conversations to respond to, is one of the top challenges.

Your social media agents will need to listen, monitor and filter relevant conversations about the brand and its customers. They then need to assess whether a response is required and if a response is required does that need to be included in a CRM workflow i.e. are they responding to a customer or potential prospect.

If people are complaining about a product or service than you can safely assume they are a customer and the conversation needs to be tracked in a CRM system for later reference and analysis. The difficulty becomes that the name they use on their social media accounts may not directly correlated with the information you have stored as a customer.

Or if there is a conversation where someone is asking for an opinion about a product or service, this is likely to become a lead or sales opportunity. Organisations need to listen very keenly to differentiate and prioritise various conversations.

There are a plethora of tools on the market to help organisations monitor their social media interactions, but it’s about building the skills and processes to utilise them effectively that presents the greatest challenge.

That’s why one of the biggest growth areas for BPO providers in recent years has been social media monitoring and listening, and integrating these activities with other customer channels and CRM systems.

Originally Published in the Sauce eNewsletter – theOutsourcing-Guide.com

theOutsourcing-guide.com is the ultimate reference guide for the BPO and outsourcing industries and it will become the most comprehensive resource for organisations looking to engage BPO and outsourcing providers. As well as providing a range of eBooks, articles and whitepapers explaining the various aspects of BPO, theOutsourcing-guide.com provides an online directory of providers segmented by category and location.

theOutsourcing-guide.com is a vehicle for vendors and service providers to showcase their organisations and the outsourcing services they provide. Visit theOutsourcing-guide.com for more information.

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Uncategorized

Navigating the multi-speed economy in 2015

By Matthew Franceschini, CEO of Entity Solutions

navigateThroughout the mining boom, there was much talk about Australia’s two-speed economy. The idea that one portion of the economy was thriving while another declined was hard to deny, especially when, in 2012, the Australian Bureau of Statistics pointed out that sales growth across our mining states was five times that of the rest of Australia.

Mining slowdown contrasted by growth in other sectors

Mining has now slowed and the question of performance is more complex. Instead of two speeds, we’re seeing a multi-speed economy, with the construction industry growing strongly while, at the same time, the performance of the services sector has [pullquote]In our multi-speed economy, the freedom to bring in new skills, to ‘staff up’ or down as demand requires, is extraordinarily attractive and very powerful.[/pullquote]deteriorated. Deloitte’s report Positioning for prosperity? Catching the next wave predicts that the five sectors to experience steady incremental growth over the next 10-20 years will include agribusiness, gas, tourism, international education and wealth management. Collectively, these five sectors have the potential to plug the gap as the mining boom recedes.

As a result of the multi-speed economy, in 2014 businesses showed a marked apathy towards large investment decision-making. While Australia has staved off recession for over two decades, there is no denying we are in an economic slowdown, with recent figures indicating GDP growth slowed to just 0.5% in the last quarter of 2014. With these conditions expected to continue well into 2015, many organisations adopt a “wait and see” approach to anything requiring additional financial risk.

Contingent workers: The key to navigating lulls

Contingent workers (those work is characterised by non-permanent contract arrangements) have long been engaged by organisations looking for scalable technical expertise on demand. However just as the global workforce landscape has rapidly evolved from what it once was, contingent workers have developed and grown to be more than simply a gun for hire.

According to research by Oxford Economics, 3 of the top 5 labour market shifts affecting workforce strategy are increasing number of contingent employees (37%), increasing number of intermittent employees (37%) and changing work models (35%).

85% of Australian organisations were also seen to be increasingly using contingent, intermittent, seasonal, or consultant employees to help rebound amidst economic uncertainty, indicating this is no passing trend. Contingent work will continue to grow as a crucial mode of engagement to support businesses and individuals craving flexibility alike.

In our multi-speed economy, the freedom to bring in new skills, to ‘staff up’ or down as demand requires, is extraordinarily attractive and very powerful.

To read full article please visit http://blog.entitysolutions.com.au/navigating-the-multispeed-economy-in-2015/

CEO Entity Sol.

theOutsourcing-guide.com is the ultimate reference guide for the BPO and outsourcing industries and it will become the most comprehensive resource for organisations looking to engage BPO and outsourcing providers. As well as providing a range of eBooks, articles and whitepapers explaining the various aspects of BPO, theOutsourcing-guide.com provides an online directory of providers segmented by category and location.

theOutsourcing-guide.com is a vehicle for vendors and service providers to showcase their organisations and the outsourcing services they provide. Visit theOutsourcing-guide.com for more information.

Originally Published in the Sauce eNewsletter – theOutsourcing-Guide.com

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BPO, CallCenter, Contact Centre, News

The Internet of Things

By Martin Conboy

Internet-of-ThingsCan you remember the TV show the Jetsons? The Jetson family lived in a futuristic utopia with robots, holograms and space age inventions that seem very far-fetched at the time. Imagine that Jetson-esque world in the future where everyday objects such as fridges, air conditioners, cars and security systems, etc. are intelligent and can talk to each other and their manufacturer. Well that world is already here today! A new report reveals how consumer-facing brands can embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) to create actual value for businesses and consumers alike.

According to Cisco The Internet of Everything is a $19 trillion global opportunity over the next decade: Private-sector firms can create as much as $14.4 trillion of value while cities, governments and other public-sector organizations can create $4.6 trillion.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is where objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers embedded in electronics, software and sensors that can transfer data via a network. It connects the actual physical world with the digital world through the Internet[i]. The emergence of wireless technologies such as RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and other web-based technology has allowed IoT to emerge. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure.

IoT can refer to a wide range of devices such as heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders, appliances with built-in sensors and so on. These devices collect useful data about the object or person and then upload that data so it can be shared and viewed remotely.

Typically, IoT is expected to offer advanced connectivity of devices, systems, and services that goes beyond machine-to-machine communications and covers a variety of protocols, domains, and applications. The interconnection of these embedded devices (including smart objects), is expected to usher in automation in nearly all fields, while also enabling advanced applications like a Smart Grid.

The concept of a network of smart devices was discussed as early as 1982, with a modified Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon University becoming the first internet-connected appliance, able to report its inventory and whether newly loaded drinks were cold.

According to a new report by Altimeter Group, Customer experience in The Internet of Things by Jessica Groopman, IoT represents the next era of computing.

“IoT is a platform for connecting people, objects, and environments to inform and enable visibility, engagement, and innovation. Using a wearable fitness tracker to monitor your exercise is one thing.”

“Yet the real value comes when biometric sensor data in the tracker can connect to a post-surgical recovery plan, communicate healing progress back to the surgeon in real time, show how the patient’s progress compares to other (anonymous) patients’, and suggest more effective ways to expedite healing and mobility.”

At Apple’s March 2015 event, the company announced ResearchKit, a software framework that allows medical researchers to get data directly from iPhone users. The company said that users can sign up to participate in medical research and use their iPhones as diagnostic tools. One example the company gave is a study for Parkinson’s disease that asks the user to perform quick tests on their phone to help diagnose it. The company hopes that it will help change the way clinical studies are made; it’s currently very difficult to get people to participate in studies. A short video shown during the event noted that one study sent out 60,000 letters to potential participants and only received about 300 replies. Many institutions are hoping that making it easier to opt-in will provide unprecedented amounts of data for studies.

This ability to connect data with things and the Internet can transform and reinvent the consumer’s experience. It offers;

  • Greater insights and visibility into the needs and preferences of consumers and their respective communities
  • Enhanced and improved engagement between brands and their customers.
  • New areas for innovation and automation.

According to Gartner there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020.[20] ABI Research estimates that more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things (Internet of Everything) by 2020.

Empowering the consumer

Traditional media and marketing relied on a one way broadcast model where brands set the agenda. Social media and the Internet has transformed how brands and consumers interact. Establishing two-way communications between the brand and the consumer allows the consumer to set much of the agenda. The old command and control economy is fast disappearing and being replaced by businesses that devolve power back to the customer. Companies who fail to recognise this new normal will quickly become redundant. Future shock is a new challenge for businesses stuck in the last century.

According to the Altimeter report, The Internet of Things creates the opportunity for any element of the brand experience to have a voice. IoT enables multi-way communications between brand and consumer, brand and object, consumer and object, and object and object. The result is empowerment of each.

As well as empowering the consumer, IoT can offer significant benefits for sales, marketing, customer service and product development in terms of brand awareness, insight, contextual relevance, satisfaction, efficiency, loyalty, innovation, and conversion.

By leveraging sensors and data, IoT may allow brands to achieve the ultimate marketing objective of delivering the right content or experience to the right person at the right time via the most appropriate channel[ii]. Creating and monitoring sensor-based touch points in the offline world provides brands empirical, often customer-driven, insights that bridge the historically mysterious gap between how consumers behave online and what they do in conjunction offline.

The more consumers are inspired and enabled to do within the context of their brand interactions, the more brand and consumer agendas can align. Realising this requires an ongoing dialog between both sides, meaning brands must constantly prioritise utility, experience, service, and tangible value creation. IoT has the potential of being a key enabler in allowing brands and consumers to evolve together, where their priorities are better aligned.

As outsourced contact centres are currently in a unique position to capitalise on this trend, they will need to morph into ‘Listening’ posts rather than transaction processing facilities.

Overcoming the challenges

Even though IoT offers plenty of opportunities, its widespread adoption faces significant challenges. Privacy is obviously a major concern and perhaps the biggest test facing its development and deployment is the lack of shared standards for developing devices, infrastructure and applications. Electrical power is another significant challenge as most devices currently operate on batteries with limited shelf life. Then there’s a host of issues around data security and privacy. Solving these issues will take time and investment.

Adoption of the Internet of Things faces tremendous challenges—around power, latency, costs, industry alignment on shared standards, protocols, and infrastructure for interoperability; around data integrity, security, access, and control; and around risk aversion, trust, and privacy. it will not happen overnight but It will happen!

[i] http://www.altimetergroup.com/pdf/reports/Customer-Experience-in-the-Internet-of-Things-Altimeter-Group.pdf

[ii] http://www.altimetergroup.com/pdf/reports/Customer-Experience-in-the-Internet-of-Things-Altimeter-Group.pdf

theOutsourcing-guide.com is the ultimate reference guide for the BPO andoutsourcingindustries and it will become the most comprehensive resource for organisations looking to engage BPO and outsourcing providers. As well as providing a range of eBooks, articles and whitepapers explaining the various aspects of BPO, theOutsourcing-guide.com provides an online directory of providers segmented by category and location.

theOutsourcing-guide.com is a vehicle for vendors and service providers to showcase their organisations and the outsourcing services they provide. VisittheOutsourcing-guide.com for more information.

Originally Published in the Sauce eNewsletter – theOutsourcing-Guide.com

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