With service levels at just 15% and abandonment rates climbing, a CX leader at an iconic US brand faced a daunting decision – turn off the phones or continue letting hundreds of customers wait on hold for hours.
Unpredictably, contact volume had doubled and the CX leader’s primary outsourced contact center partner was all but shuttered due to COVID-19.
His decision was resolute. Email would be the only channel for the foreseeable future. He then made a quick call to his Point of Contact at the second BPO partner, me.
At the time, I was the head of marketing and client services for a different BPO and doing the job according to lessons taught to me by my father. (See Lessons learned from my father for more insight).
At ClearSource, every decision is made through the lens of our Core Values, which align very closely with my personal approach to not only business, but life.
Collaboration is Key
Over the next hour or so, we cobbled together a plan to ramp up a nearshore team as soon as possible.
How quickly could we hire 20 agents?
How soon could we get to 50, 75 or even 100 if necessary?
Would the training be in person or virtual?
How quickly could we get products shipped to Central America?
What if the local government closes all businesses?
Should we launch in the center or use Work-From-Home on day one?
And what about an Ops Manager, we would need someone who could deliver under extreme pressure.
It all seemed plausible as we talked it through, but as the phone call was winding down, I personally promised to do everything possible to make sure the decision wouldn’t backfire.
In the end, my collaborative partner in this increasingly complex relationship agreed to give it a shot.
Our back-of-the-napkin plan was formalized into a Scope of Work and signed by the CEO.
We were off and running.
The first team of agents graduated as the phones were turned back on. Average Handle Time dropped steadily, and Customer Satisfaction inched up as the team gained strength.
Yes, there were problems along the way, but subject matter experts on each side worked together to solve them. With no time to argue, the work simply got done.
In the end, the new team exceeded expectations by restoring stability to a loyal customer base that just wanted the same stellar service they were accustomed to getting before the Pandemic struck.
All About Trust
How many CX pros would put their trust in a burgeoning relationship with so much on the line?
I would like to think the answer is quite a few once Trust is Earned.
So how was trust earned?
It was cultivated during the sales process, which took over a year.
The CX executive in question worked for a family-owned brand that had built its business with great products and a devotion to its customers.
He was meticulous and wanted data points to drive every decision for the business.
He demanded a live tech demo with the understanding that he could ask anything and expect an answer on the spot. He wanted each tool to perform as advertised and see them in action.
He also asked for a meeting with the Business Intelligence team to see if they knew their stuff. Only after passing each test, did we make it to a final presentation.
The conference room was full of CX leaders from both sides and the vibe was good from introduction to conclusion.
We had a handshake deal – a year in the making – before we made it to the elevator.
We made a lot of promises during that presentation and knew we’d be held to every one of them.
We only asked that the brand’s experts teach us everything they knew about their products and how to keep their customers happy.
Over the coming weeks, both teams spent much time together, driving the 4 hours back and forth from HQ to the call center.
Operations leaders, trainers, product experts – anyone who could help did so. Relationships were forged and sure enough, two teams began operating as one.
Over the next few months, the tech support team scaled with quality, and more contact volume came our way as our team began to outperform the other BPO partner.
By the time COVID struck, we had earned enough trust to launch a second location without the possibility of a site visit.
In my experience, True Partnerships take root during those one-on-one conversations between people in similar roles at each company. Sure, the executives must learn to trust each other, but that is easier when positive feedback comes from all departments.
Anyone reading this who has been hesitant to try outsourcing should know there are good BPOs that focus on building lasting relationships rather than making promises they can’t keep.
ClearSource is one of those companies. If you would like to hear more about our approach, feel free to reach out so Sean Sneed, our Head of CX Design, at 385-508-4015.
Larry Ruehlen is VP of Marketing for ClearSource. He previously held similar roles at Support Services Group and HKT Teleservices.