What Will The Customer Service Partner Of The Future Look Like?

What is the future for customer service outsourcing? Sensée has certainly shaken things up in the UK with the purchase of The Contact Company. The acquisition almost doubles our employee base, adds new capabilities, and provides greater flexibility for clients who can now choose from the options of a 100% work-from-home (WFH) team, one based at our secure contact centre in Birkenhead, or a combination of both.  

We can also offer powerful hybrid solutions for clients who prefer to build their own core teams inside the office, but with the support of a flexible WFH or hybrid team to optimise resources in response to forecast (and actual!) customer demand. 

We will talk more about what this means for Sensée in future posts, but how does our ability to offer more flexibility to customers look when contrasted to the market more generally? 

There has certainly been a ‘bigger is better’ approach to business process outsourcing (BPO) in the past year or so. Foundever was created by the merger of SYKES and Sitel. Concentrix and Webhelp are in the process of merging. Teleperformance acquired Majorel. That’s six big global companies that have now merged to become just three.  

The moves have happened at a time when AI is getting better and more powerful, driving greater productivity for customer service advisers by performing many of the manual admin tasks they used to have to manage – like writing up notes after a call for example. AI chatbots are also starting to become useful, after years of arguably being the opposite. 

So there is clearly a view amongst the very largest outsourcing groups that human interactions are still an essential part of the customer service process. When we interact with our favourite brands we often want to talk to a real person. There are many basic services that can be automated, but when a question or request is urgent – or needs empathy – then a bot isn’t the experience that anyone wants, at least not yet anyway. 

So what will the customer service partner of the future really look like in this environment where human experience remains important, but blended alongside automation and self-service? 

We believe that specialist and more flexible partners are needed. Experts in designing customer experiences and focused locally on the markets that they serve. 

We call it having ‘talent on tap’. Having the scale to respond to peaks and troughs in customer contact volumes, but being able to cope with this variability in a smart way – by using technology to predict volumes and plan the right number of people that need to be available. 

Think about it like this. The BPO providers that operate ‘traditional’ aircraft hanger-sized contact centres with thousands of advisers have been like the oil tankers of the industry. Big and unwieldy, demanding multi-year service contracts, and often unable to easily diverge from what has been agreed in a contract. 

This isn’t how customer service planning is going to work moving forward. Nobody can plan how their business will look in 3, 4, or 5 years. So clients need partners that are prepared to work alongside them to provide the scalability and flexibility they demand. 

It’s like contrasting the unchanging British civil service with ChatGPT. One service has not changed in decades and is highly resistant to any rapid change. The other is constantly being reviewed, improved, and updated. 

This is what a modern customer service partner looks like. Agile, flexible, and able to predict how customers might behave next year. Ready to scale and evolve alongside your business. 

We have seen the automation of basic customer service questions over the past few years. It’s very unusual now to ever need to talk to an adviser if you are resetting a password – this has become normal and accepted. Automated services are getting better. AI interactions will only improve this. 

But it will be a long time before AI can answer all customer questions and even when AI can technically manage most customer interactions there will be many occasions when it is preferable to have a human-to-human customer interaction – just to create a connection or demonstrate empathy. Sales opportunities are often created from these service conversations. 

So the customer service partner of the future will be one that embraces the different paths a customer can take to get help. One that can improve your self-service options – including chatbots – as well as provide highly flexible and adaptive human advisers that know your products and services inside out. 

This doesn’t sound like the traditional contact centre services we’ve seen marketed for 20 years or more. The pandemic forced many business process outsourcing companies to explore more flexible options such as variable shifts and working from home. Something that has been entirely normal at Sensée for years – it didn’t take a crisis for us to have to explore them. 

So if your organisation requires a specialist customer service partner, what kind of partner is the best fit? A mature service outsourcer that delivers along traditional lines, or a next generation partner that delivers highly flexible teams to optimise your workforce and technology resources? 

Here at Sensée – and especially since the addition of the bricks and mortar capabilities of The Contact Company – we’re able to deliver the best of both these worlds. A solid and proven outsourced contact centre proposition that’s underpinned by nextgen collaboration, comms, scheduling and management solutions – with AI-driven solutions supporting skilled advisers. And all flexibly delivered via home and office-based resources to match client needs and ensure outsourced and internal teams ‘work as one’.

In essence, a powerful new co-sourced and co-managed delivery proposition…. and a boutique service partner you can trust.

For more information about us, and the brands we serve, please take a look at our website here

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