The customer care outsourcing world is in the midst of a race to the bottom when it comes to profitability. Cut throat competition including price arbitrage from offshore destinations has driven down prices and with it margins. This is great for clients but less so for the outsourcers and their shareholders. So where does the industry find salvation? Where is the next big thing? How do outsourcers leverage their strengths and economies of scale? The answer may reside in social media, which presents the opportunity to deliver good ol’ fashion customer service combined with sales, marketing and feedback opportunities. The lines are becoming increasingly blurred so let me explain.
The first thing to consider is that social media as a customer care channel is growing substantially. At Conversocial we’ve seen 30%+ year-over-year growth in the volume of social messages our customers are receiving. And the impact of social media on customer care is being felt across industries with organizations reporting that social is set to account for up to 11.5% of interactions in call centers this year according to data from Business Systems. For the outsourcing community a huge opportunity exists in supporting clients with this growing volume of social messages. This is not something for the future, this opportunity exists today and the graph above from SocialBakers illustrates this point beautifully. Look at the huge gap between questions and responses. Nearly two million unresponded questions on Twitter alone! Outsourcers are uniquely suited to fill this gap as they have for their clients across other care channels. They need to step up now or risk losing this space to upstarts such as moderation agencies who’ve been involved in the social game for many years.
The second point to make is the impact social is having on marketing and sales or 'social selling' as it is known. The interesting point about social customer care is that it’s not just customer care. The mere fact that it is public and sharable means that it takes on an importance and has an impact that traditional, one-to-one customer care channels lack. This visibility is a double-edged sword, of course. When it highlights an organization doing an amazing job of resolving a customer’s issue, it puts them in a good light. When it shows the opposite — a customer being let down — it can damage the brand. In the process and along the way, people’s perception of a brand are created for better or worse. Brands who realize this are using social to engage in conversations with customers, promote their products and services at the appropriate time and create a sense of community in the process. The ability to actively listen, moderate and engage is crucial and something that the outsourcing world is well equipped for.
The final point to consider is around customer feedback and data collection. The problem with feedback surveys is that people don’t complete them. When was the last time you phoned a brand just to give advice or feedback? It rarely happens. The interesting thing about social media is that it allows people to comment in the moment, as they observe and react to products and services in their daily lives. It’s where they go to share these experiences, to rant and rave, and therefore social represents a wealth of insights waiting to be harvested. Given the importance placed on data and analysis these days this could prove a lucrative addition to an outsourcers portfolio.
Outsourcers are missing a huge opportunity within an emerging channel to answer customer queries while at the same time promoting their clients’ products and services and providing valuable feedback. The opportunity is now and organizations of all shapes and sizes need support in handling increasing social volume. Why would outsourcers not step up with a compelling offer? Social might just prove to be their greatest opportunity yet. Mind the gap.