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Webinar: 14th November 2023

How to cut down customer service costs without damaging customer loyalty

Webinar featuring Shamas Aziz (ex-Selfridges), Alexandre Morey (The Nest by Concentrix + Webhelp) and Luba Chudnovets (Cordless)


In this webinar, Luba Chudnovets from Cordless, Sham Aziz from Selfridges and Alexandre Morey from The Nest by Concentrix + Webhelp got together to chat about how to run a customer service centre more efficiently without damaging customer satisfaction.

More of a reader? Take a look at the summary blog of the conversation below:

Reducing contact volume

Sham covers the use case of e-commerce, where the top three customer queries often relate to deliveries, returns, and website issues. One approach is to implement self-service options, allowing customers to book their own returns seamlessly. The goal is to analyze the reasons behind customer contacts and find ways to address them outside the contact center.

Alex highlights the effectiveness of a comprehensive FAQ and knowledge base on the website to guide users and reduce first-level volumes. He suggests transforming a well-structured template library and knowledge base into a bot automated system, where the bot handles routine queries, leaving the human team to manage more complex issues. The transition may require initial investment but can result in long-term cost reduction.

The discussion extends to voice channels, with the mention of interactive voice response systems (IVRs) for providing information in a phone call setting. The speakers acknowledge the challenges of developing complex bots for voice interactions but note the potential payoff if implemented correctly.

Overall, the key theme is understanding customer contacts, dissecting top queries, and finding ways to address them efficiently, whether through self-service options, automated systems, or improved knowledge bases. The speakers stress the importance of investment and strategic planning for long-term benefits in reducing contact volumes.

Self service nudges and customer satisfaction

Alex emphasises the importance of understanding the specific customer base and their preferences. He suggests analyzing services individually and adapting the approach based on the nature of the service.

Sham builds on this by highlighting the key role of alignment with the business's vision and mission. He recommends considering how the desired customer interaction aligns with the brand and suggests A/B testing to evaluate different approaches. The idea of surfacing live chat or phone options more prominently, based on higher contact resolution, is proposed. The emphasis is on testing various strategies using website analytics and customer satisfaction scores to make informed decisions.

Luba adds that understanding customer sentiment by the type of question is crucial. For straightforward information requests, using FAQs may be effective, but for sensitive issues like fee increases, direct communication may be more appropriate. Automated sentiment analysis of calls is mentioned as a valuable tool to gauge customer feelings without relying on direct feedback.

The role of outsourcing

Sham emphasises the need to align outsourcing decisions with the business's mission, vision, and purpose and talks about the three main approaches to customer service: in-house, outsourcing, or a hybrid model. Even though the is lower, Sham points out potential challenges with brand immersion when outsourcing.

Alex echoes the importance of alignment and mentions that customer support should not be viewed solely as a cost centre but as a means to ensure retention and brand loyalty. He talks about the reduction of costs related to infrastructure, facilities, and human resources when outsourcing. Alex also stresses the significance of selecting outsourcing locations that understand start-ups' dynamics and cultural nuances.

In response to tips for outsourcing complexity, Alex recommends identifying the specific tasks at hand and ensuring internal processes are well-prepared for outsourcing. He stresses the importance of having a point of contact in-house for effective collaboration and partnership.

Sham highlights the speed and agility of outsourcing in recruiting specialised profiles quickly and the benefits of outsourcing when there's a need to scale up or down rapidly, especially during seasonal shifts.

The discussion concludes with insights from Luba, who shares experiences from Monzo, highlighting the need to treat the outsourcing team as part of the company. She stresses the importance of ongoing involvement, training and access to tools to effectively represent the brand and provide excellent customer support.
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Empowering your team

Sham emphasizes the importance of finding the right balance between productivity and maintaining quality service. He suggests protecting the team's quality level while understanding the optimal headcount and customer journey to minimize wastage. Sham recommends focusing on repetitive tasks, building templates, and implementing automation to improve productivity. Additionally, he suggests considering channel specialisation to leverage individual strengths.

Alex adds that a solid training plan should be in place and regularly reviewed, especially for fast-growing startups. He stresses the importance of avoiding turnover by recruiting well and being transparent about the job's challenges. Alex suggests creating a bonus scheme tied to productivity, adjusting it according to business needs and peak seasons. He also highlights the impact of an intuitive and easy-to-navigate knowledge base on productivity and motivation. Alex concludes by emphasising the role of leadership in maintaining a motivated and productive team.

Luba underscores the impact of dedicated engineering teams in building internal tools to improve processes for customer support staff and making information easily accessible and intuitive reducing the need for extensive training and improving job satisfaction.

Automation and AI

Alex is excited about the impact AI had for translation and for multilingual clients. He emphasizes the cost reduction achieved by setting up teams in locations with lower language-related expenses and leveraging AI-driven translation tools. Additionally, Alex mentions AI platforms that reduce accents in customer support, particularly in voice channels, enhancing productivity and reducing costs.

Sham mentions the effectiveness of email automation tools in handling email inquiries and reducing costs per contact. He also talks about the use of AI in augmenting human capabilities rather than replacing them. Sham envisions AI as a tool that can provide customer service advisors with access to vast knowledge bases, order management systems, and information, ultimately enhancing the quality and efficiency of customer interactions.

Luba talks about how AI can help customer service teams better understand the content of their calls and how this would save a lot of manager time on QA, process compliance and improve decisions about training and coaching.
Luba Chudnovets
Co-Founder and CEO