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Fast, Good and Competitively Priced: How the Right CX Outsourcer Can Do All Three

April 13, 2023

If you’ve ever contracted out a service, you’ve probably heard of “triple constraint”. It’s the old adage that you can have a project delivered “Fast, Good, or Affordable” but you can’t have all three. The rule says you can be fast and affordable, but it won’t be good. It can be good and affordable, but it won’t be fast. And fast and good are both possible, but it will likely cost more. Can a good customer experience (CX) outsourcer defy that rule, especially when many e-retailers are gearing up for their peak shopping seasons? Can your CX partner offer services that are fast, good, and competitively priced? The answer is, yes, you can have all three, but only with the right outsourcer.

eCommerce Customers Want the Same Things as You

Any industry that’s affected by seasonality, like retail, travel, tax preparation services, or even health insurance, knows what it’s like to navigate seasonal peaks. But retailers, and eCommerce providers, know more than anyone the importance of the Big Three shopping days of the year: Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. Last year, Americans spent US$9.12 billion online during Black Friday, and US$11.3 billion on Cyber Monday, and this year, a quarter of all retail purchases during the holiday season are expected to happen online.

Why are we talking about holiday sales this early? Because most retailers make between 25%-36% of their yearly sales during the holiday peak alone, some even as high as 50%. That’s why retailers and eCommerce companies are looking right now for CX partners. In 2022, more than half of Americans began their holiday shopping as early as October. Now is the time to begin preparations for peak season, including scaling customer support channels.

The holidays are also the time of year when customer expectations are the highest, and customer loyalty has never been weaker. According to Shopify’s 2023 Commerce Trends Report, seven out of ten customers have switched to a competing brand this past year. If e-retailers want to secure people’s loyalty, here’s where the triple constraint comes into play.

Consumers want it Fast…

Online shoppers want to know that their holiday gifts will arrive on time. According to Shopify, fast and free shipping is the new standard and 62% of shoppers expect orders to arrive in less than 3 business days. Failure to do so often results in a loss of sales. Over 50% of abandoned shopping carts are thought to be caused by issues related to speed of delivery.

Speed is also important when it comes to issue resolution. When faced with a problem, customers are 2.4 times more likely to remain loyal to a brand if their issues are solved in a timely manner.

Consumers want it Good…

Regardless of age or income, 73% of consumers say that CX is an important factor when making a purchasing decision. Most agree that a positive customer experience means speed, friendliness, helpful service, and convenience. But here’s where brands may be shocked – 65% of Americans find a positive experience more influential than the best advertising and they’re willing to pay 16% more for a product or service to get it.

There’s also a downside if you get it wrong. In a recent study, two thirds of consumers say that they’ve switched brands after a negative contact center experience. There’s also a gap between what some companies think is a ‘good experience’ versus what is delivered. Almost 80% of contact center managers think they’re exceeding customer expectations, but when consumers are asked, only 37% agree.

Consumers want it Competitively Priced…

Most customers have noticed the increase in retail prices, whether caused by inflation or a lack of supply. Consumer spending power has also decreased as prices have outpaced gains in employment earnings. As a result, a 2022 survey showed that almost 50% of U.S. consumers are now more price sensitive, with two-thirds reporting that inflation has now replaced COVID-19 as their top concern.

Because of this, 44% of shoppers are delaying purchases of nonessential items or changing the way they spend. People now look for increased value in what they buy, and consumer studies show that 43% of customers would be willing to pay more for greater convenience, while 42% would spend more for a welcoming one.

Looking for a Partner that Delivers Fast, Good, and Competitively Priced CX

With peak season just around the corner, brands and eCommerce retailers are on the search for the perfect CX partner. Whether you’re looking to supplement your in-house customer service teams, or 100% outsource, there are three things that most clients want in an outsourcer, and you guessed it, it is the perfect trifecta that the triple constraint rule says is impossible.

Clients want it Fast…

Many companies find themselves with a short timeframe in which to ramp up their customer support. There is a lot of planning and preparation required, that often involves recruiting and hiring large numbers of seasonal agents, sometimes with specialized skillsets or certifications. Then agents need to be onboarded and trained. There also must be sufficient contact center space, equipment, and infrastructure to accommodate the extra numbers. A good CX outsourcer can ease some of this stress by taking on the responsibility of sourcing and training seasonal hires. They can do this more quickly, and can source for specialized skills, by using their widespread recruitment network that often spans several geos. They can also tap into their existing pool of agents and can temporarily reassign them to serve accounts with large seasonal peaks.

But what if you only have 90 days to ramp up operations? Is it possible? Yes. Find out how we were able to support one of the largest and fastest growing hospitality brands in the world during peak travel season. We had to scale their customer support by over 30%, increasing their agent headcount from 400 full-time equivalents (FTEs) to over 1,000 in under 90 days. Then, we had to recruit an additional 160 agents in under two weeks, all while achieving a customer satisfaction score (CSAT) of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Clients want it Good…

Almost 45% of business leaders agree that customer experience is today’s primary competitive differentiator and brands with superior CX also bring in 5.7 times more revenue. This is what drives high expectations among outsourcing clients. Often, their objective is to not only find a partner that can assist with higher call volumes, but one that can outperform brand competitors by delivering that exceptional customer experience. The quality of CX is often measured by contact center metrics such as CSAT, Average Hold Times (AHT) and Issue Resolution (IR). But the ultimate goal is to deliver fast, convenient, and friendly customer service, consistently, across all channels.

Can the right outsourcer deliver high quality CX that meets or exceeds client expectations? Of course. But many can claim that capability, while the proof is in the pudding. It’s critical to partner with ones that have a history of delivering channel leading CX services. Look at their success stories, such as, when we partnered with one of the largest, U.S.-based global retailers that needed greater operational capacity for their seasonal peaks. What began as a pilot project soon became an ongoing partnership, where our reliable staffing and training model helped us achieve the number one spot for CSAT, consistently remaining in the top quartile in overall performance out of 14 customer experience vendors.

Clients want it Competitively Priced…

Consumers are not the only ones worried about costs. Commerce growth has been slowing down as concerns around inflation ramp up. According to Shopify’s report, total retail sales in 2022 climbed 15% and are expected to rise to more than US$31 trillion by 2025. However, this will be a slow climb and some predict sluggish growth in 2023. This has led to increasing worry among business owners, with 82% saying that inflation is affecting sales, forcing them to find ways to manage costs. That’s when outsourcing becomes an attractive option. It allows businesses to keep consumer prices low by streamlining operations. Outsourcers can also source talent with greater ease and less cost, while taking on the management of day-to-day CX operations, so companies can focus on other areas of their business that drive innovation and growth.

Yet, according to the old “triple constraint”, there’s no way that a CX outsourcer could provide competitively priced services that are also fast to proficiency and high quality. But here’s a great example of how a well-known insurance agency saved over US$200K a year by partnering with itel. By introducing a cost-saving method, and flexible staffing model that works with peak sales periods, we were able to triple this client’s contact center productivity and manage the increase in call volume across two different lines of business, all while meeting the client’s KPI objectives.

Defying the Rules of Triple Constraint

As you can see, the right outsourcer can defy the rule that says you can’t have it all. We can be the triple threat partner that your business has been searching for, one that is flexible enough to serve seasonal peaks or to manage your day-to-day CX operations. We can ramp up and down easily and efficiently and we are focused on providing the best customer interactions that drive loyalty and revenues. That’s why the choice of business process outsourcers is so important. We won’t make you choose between Fast, Good, and Competitively Priced CX. Your business deserves all three.  

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