For Sitel Group Founder and Global Chief Operating Officer (COO) Olivier Camino, organizations that don’t look inward and at the way they care for their employees – from recruitment to onboarding to recognition to engagement – won’t be able to look outwards to see and share the future of their customer experience (CX).
At this year’s CallMiner Listen conference, the annual event dedicated to the future of customer engagement analytics, Olivier Camino, offered valuable insights into the future of CX and the future direction of business process outsourcing (BPO) in an omnichannel world.
“If a company wants to make sure they offer customers an engaging, emotional experience, they need to start by looking at the associate experience,” he said as he began his keynote address.
The economy is booming. Demand for people with the skills crucial in a modern contact center environment is at an all-time high and as a result, the challenges faced by BPOs looking to recruit, train and retain personnel have never been greater.
“The profile of the agent is changing,” said Camino. “There is a greater focus on soft skills and on being able to create an emotional interaction with the customer.”
Sitel Group’s solution to this problem is to start by making sure the company is where the next generation of associates are – on social channels.
“We have built social media hubs packed with multimedia content and insights,” Camino explained. “They’re helping us reach more people, at a lower cost and sharing our company’s personality and tone.”
Since targeting millennials in this way, these hubs have generated 345 million views, created 60,000 recruitment leads and cut recruitment costs to $4.55 per lead.
The hubs are part of a larger organization-wide transformation that seeks to understand how every aspect of the business can be improved or optimized. It’s why, for example, Sitel Group now has a MOOC that enables potential hires to learn about what it takes to be a contact center associate and even complete the initial training, before the hiring process begins. This innovation cuts the recruitment process down from two weeks to four hours.
Being able to identify and recruit new associates quickly and smoothly is crucial for responding to clients’ changing customer experience needs. But the hiring process is simply the first step of a bigger challenge of delivering on CX. Companies need a clear, effective and above all, engaging approach to onboarding.
“The first 90 days is the most critical moment in an associate’s life,” warned Camino. “Manage it poorly and you will have a large attrition rate.”
Indeed, the Bureau of Labor data shows that it takes less than six months for 90 percent of U.S. employees to know whether to stick with or leave a company and that one-in-five employees that have quit a job within the first 45 days has done so because of a negative onboarding experience.
This is why Sitel Group has developed an on-demand platform that can even be accessed via social messaging apps that helps employees get into their comfort zone. It offers all the information and insights needed regarding company culture, plus access to initial training modules for developing the skills to succeed. It takes a multimedia approach to content and leverages gamification to encourage employees to go further and complete more modules.
Aberdeen Group research shows that gamification boosts engagement in the onboarding process by upwards of 48 percent while a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that by making onboarding engaging and consistent – i.e., the same experience for every new recruit – the chances of keeping an employee at your organization for three years or more increase by 69 percent.
Moreover, all of this underlines why the future of CX is the employee experience. According to Camino, the only way to be a customer-obsessed organization is to ensure your employees are engaged. And this means keeping employees at the center of the company at all times and at each stage of their career.
In turn, this means thinking of your people as you think of your customers.
“We’re all customers and as customers we want to be treated as individuals,” explained Camino.
It’s why all Sitel Group associates have access to ongoing training across a host of subject areas. As well as modules relevant to a person’s current position or career trajectory, everyone has the opportunity to study topics that truly interest them. This in turn highlights employee talents, strengths and motivation and feeds back into the promotion and recruitment process.
Deloitte’s Talent 2020 report found that 42 percent of employees looking for a new job are doing so because their current company isn’t making good use of their skills, while 37 percent of those that are switching to a new company are doing so because of a lack of career progress.
This learning platform, alongside constantly highlighting the value of the role associates play in the business, not only retains and motivates employees, it gives them the tools they need to continue meeting and exceeding customer expectations as technology continues to redefine the nature of CX.
“We are living in a world where technology is transforming the way we work,” pointed out Camino. “In contact centers that means facing more and more complex, digital and emotional interactions around moments of truth.”
To illustrate this point, Camino pointed to the fact that customers now expect not just a personalized but also a proactive service – one that can anticipate and meet their needs ahead of time – and to do it all across whatever channel they happen to be using at the time, whether it’s email, social, live chat or the phone.
Sitel aims to support this move from transactional to conversational, emotional exchanges by leveraging the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI). The idea is that this technology will enhance Sitel Group associates’ skills.
For example, an AI-powered chatbot can engage with customers seeking generic help or advice, leaving associates free to deliver added value by handling the customer interactions that really matter. Those instances where emotional understanding, and empathy are key to resolving an issue.
“AI will enable rather than replace,” said Camino. “We are implementing this technology to better equip our people to focus on emotional conversation.”