Sitel: Top Customer Care Trends to Watch in 2016

BLOG: By Karl Brough, general manager for UK, Ireland and Nordics, Sitel

The customer contact industry is going through a monumental period of change and I believe 2016 will be no different as brands look to connect better with their customers. When it comes to customer care in 2016, great service will again be defined about feelings; it will be about “experiences”.

The challenge of delivering outstanding experiences to customers has been steadily transforming the BPO industry for the past decade but we can also point out other forces that will influence how companies shape their strategies in 2016. These are some of the top trends to watch in our industry in 2016:

People focus will be one of the most important elements for businesses to deal with in 2016.

Customer contact providers and their clients will be compelled to improve their ability to handle complex client interactions and customer experience through increased investment in complementary and new service offerings, including non-voice multichannel services and analytic services driven by client need. Equally important will be continuous investment in people. The BPO sector – like any other knowledge industry – is based on the talent of its human capital and that focus on talent and training will be vital in driving customer experience.

Increased complexity across the industry due to changing consumer expectations and the unstoppable and accelerating change brought by new technology.

The BPO industry is going through a fundamental transformation process. As all manner of businesses hasten their digital transformation programmes, customer care providers will accelerate the implementation of integrated digital business strategies to respond to customers’ redefinition of markets.

Offshoring & nearshoring pace will remain stable and grow in some regions.

Sitel expects global sourcing to be $500 billion industry by 2020. Outsourcing and offshoring will continue to be major drivers for the industry, especially in industries such as Information Technology and Business. However, increased focus on experience and complexity, along with cost concerns, have resulted in higher demand of mixed service models (offshore + nearshore) in order to offer first class experience to customers at a very reasonable price. This is a trend that is set to continue in 2016 and beyond.

Rise of home-based agents with the stage set for broad adoption of virtual agents now that technology has addressed bandwidth, security and reliability concerns.

It is becoming common for home agent infrastructure to meet or exceed the security standards of a brick-and-mortar site. At a basic level the home-based agent solution is a mutually advantageous model where the company saves in terms of rent, energy and sometimes hardware costs, while workers save commuting time and expenses, whilst increasing productivity. According to Sitel Work@Home Solutions team data, home-agent productivity is typically 15% – 20% higher on average than the equivalent “brick and mortar” agent. As a result, we will see increased adoption of home-agents across the UK and Europe, particularly during traditional ramp-up periods such as Christmas.

An aggressive shift in control from organisation to consumer will be dictated by consumers’ desire to have greater control over their experiences.

This will continue to challenge the processes, organisational structures, and systems companies have put in place to communicate with customers. Since consumers expect a consistent level of service from an organisation at any given time, regardless of their initial point of entry, the most successful companies in our industry in 2016 will continue to invest to provide a holistic view of the customer across all divisions, business areas, and even branches. The key will be: right place, right time, right channel, to meet consumer expectation.