Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Call Centre Growth in India Faltering – The Beginning of the End for Outsourced Contact?

According to new research the call centre industry in India, from a position of prominence is now faltering in the wake of companies wishing to move their operations back to the UK and to countries in South East Asia.

The reasons behind this stalling are multiple. As always customer difficulties with the Indian accent have been presented, despite extensive ‘neutral accent training’ at Indian call centres. Adding to the problems for Indian call centres however is the decreasing kudos of call centre jobs within India and the result of rising living costs in cities such as Mumbai and Delhi.

There are now an increasing number of companies bringing their call centre operations back to native shores. One is Santander, the Spanish owned bank which now has a contact centre within the UK; another is Aviva, which has moved part of their operation to Norwich.

These developments can be seen as part of a wider u-turn made by many companies who originally outsourced to India and other off-shore centres primarily to save money. At the time their perception was that customer service and experience levels would be maintained but in many cases that proved not to be the case.

The resulting customer frustration has often arisen because of the inability of off-shore agents to converse with customers ‘naturally.’ Cultural differences, language barriers and rigid, scripted call structures have all led to a general feeling of dissatisfaction amongst UK consumers. Eventually this reflected poorly on the brands which jumped on the off-shoring bandwagon.

Recently however this bandwagon is faltering and both Aviva and Santander form part of a growing trend for “on-shoring,” or bringing call centres back to the UK. This trend actually began some time ago with a number of brands now using the fact they are returning as both a USP and a positive PR story.

Rather than the spin associated with this PR however, the real reason why such companies are coming back to the UK is that they have finally realised hanging on to customers during tough economic times is as important as cutting costs. Providing a good customer experience is now a priority ... something which in many cases was not paramount in the off-shore model.

Is it the beginning of the end for off-shore call centres? Perhaps in the Indian example it may be, although ultimately it is the realisation that a good customer experience is the most economically viable way to retain customers which will signal the death knell for off-shoring.

Monday, 12 September 2011

B2B Marketing Fundamentals – Your Identity & Target

In a recent blog I outlined some of EWA’s fundamentals when it comes to B2B marketing. Within the blog 3 main areas were explored, which if understood could help you to make positive changes in your marketing efforts. The first of these areas is Your Identity & Target, which are both vitally important if your marketing is to be effectively focussed. Consider the following in order to achieve this marketing fundamental.

Who are you and what do you offer?

As a business you should have a clear idea of who you are but it is equally important to define this in a concise statement. This statement should combine your company identity with the types of services where you excel, clearly showing any potential clients your positioning, whatever the communication medium.

What is your target market?

Marketing without targeting is unlikely to be effective or profitable making identifying a target audience for your B2B marketing essential. Any targeting exercise should consider who you are planning to sell your services or products to by defining the size and type of businesses they should be.

Why should businesses buy from you?

By now you will have established your own identity and even the role that your specialities play in this, however, it is also important to consider your USPs (Unique Selling Points). These USPs are what sets your business apart from the competition and should consist of specific features and benefits customers will gain if they choose you.

Who do you need to speak to?

The final area of your identity and targeting is to define exactly who you need to contact. Ideally these contacts should be someone within a business with the power to make decisions as to arranging meeting with the key stakeholders in the company. For some businesses this may purely be the MD, but with others this could be a marketing manager or commercial director.

B2B differs from B2C in that the people you deal with have different considerations to make and are driven by different purchasing factors. By asking yourself these questions and setting your stall out early on in the marketing process you should be able to find ways to appeal to these purchasing factors from the outset, greatly improving the chances of success for your marketing.