CX-first outsourcing starts with support service agents equipped with technologies that empower them.
By Sagar Rajgopal, Ubiquity
For many fast-growing challenger brands, business process outsourcing is all about the numbers—cutting costs, smashing KPIs and stretching to ever-higher customer volumes.
But this laser-focus on metrics can obscure—or worse, impede—long-term service quality and brand reputation.
We believe that a CX-first approach to outsourcing can get you both winning numbers and a winning reputation. This blog explores why Relationship-based Outsourcing (RBO) can help brands maximize their customer service satisfaction, minimize costs and increase customer lifetime value.
Let’s dive in.
Why RBO is different
Every emerging brand knows CX is important, but it can be challenging to quantify. Traditional metrics like NPS (Net Promoter Score) and CSAT (Customer Satisfaction score) can help, but they’re really a baseline—they don’t tell the whole story.
The problem is that this is where traditional BPO stops.
A CX-first BPO partner goes further. We empower service agents to go deeper, by integrating typical feedback mechanisms with an active participation in boosting your brand’s reputation. RBO isn’t just about capturing and measuring in-the-moment satisfaction—it’s about creating it across the course of the whole customer relationship.
When challenger brands marry traditional satisfaction metrics with a CX-led outsourcing strategy, customer happiness and brand reputation grow together. Next up, we’re going to explore a few ways to do that.
But first, what’s the difference between NPS and CSAT?
NPS is a commonly used measurement of customer satisfaction and loyalty. It’s a reliable indicator of future growth and of the quality of customer relationships.
NPS orients around a single question sent to respondents—”On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our brand to friends and colleagues?” To get your score, you subtract the percentage of detractors (who score 0-6) from the percentage of promoters (who score 9-10).
NPS scores range between -100 and +100. A top-performing company with exceptional customer experiences skates above the 70 mark. Meanwhile for big players in sensitive sectors—like financial services or telecom— negative scores are the norm. (We’ve helped quite a few companies turn that around—more on that later).
While NPS is great for getting a broad view of your end-to-end customer experience, CSAT can help you get feedback from specific interactions.
A CSAT survey asks respondents about a recent service experience using a three-, five- or seven-point rating scale—from highly positive to highly negative. The CSAT score gives brands an understanding of what customer experience looks like in the moment rather than a broader, generalized picture.
So which is better? That brings us to our first technique…
1. Educate your own people about NPS and CSAT
We know some outsourcers evangelize using one metric over the other without giving their clients an option. But we believe brands should use both NPS and CSAT to see the short-term and long-term effects of their customer experience strategy.
We train customer service agents at our contact centers in why these scores matter and their impact on businesses performance and brand perceptions. But all brand employees should recognize them too. Agreeing on what matters—and then measuring it—gives your brand’s reputation a clear path for improvement.
To embed them in your organization, you can introduce objectives around NPS or CSAT as part of employees’ annual appraisals and bonus schemes. Providing staff with a forum for feedback on results or to explain process changes helps beef up your scores, too. Make NPS and CSAT key parts of the agent experience.
2. Keep customer effort low to keep satisfaction scores high
One simple way to ramp up your loyalty and satisfaction scores is to reduce the effort expended by your customers.
Customers value convenience and resent exertion. And crucially, they remember both. Customers are four times more likely to be disloyal after a service interaction than before it, according to Gartner.
High-effort customer experiences—such as switching service channels, finding information and repetitious interactions—can chip away at a customer’s impression of your brand. Identifying and attacking the root causes of high-effort interactions boosts service quality and lowers costs in the same motion.
Gartner finds that NPS is 65 points higher for the top-performing, low-effort companies than for the high-effort ones. Therefore it makes sense to orient CX around maximizing low effort interactions. The less customers need to expend energy to get what they need, the more satisfied your customers will be—and your metrics and reputation will soar.
But what if a customer has a problem that needs a bit more involvement?
3. Give service agents the authority to turn problems around themselves
Everyone in the customer service industry knows the story about the Zappos customer rep call that lasted a record-breaking 10 hours to solve the customer’s problem—because that’s how long the customer needed the agent’s support for. This level of dedication could only come from a culture where agents are trusted to deliver customer service using their own judgment. When you grant true autonomy that allows for genuine care, trust, amazing PR and individual customer LTV can result from it.
At Ubiquity, we believe in the potential to turn those stickier, challenging customer moments into positive, memorable outcomes that keep customers for life. That’s why we empower agents to take matters into their own hands and go beyond the call of duty to help customers out.
For example, if a customer problem requires escalation to a manager, that could prolong their resolution. Sometimes risk and information sensitivity prevents an agent from exercising full autonomy. But more often than not, it makes more sense for the agent to solve an issue themselves. And that initiative can make all the difference between a negative and a positive CSAT score for that moment and for the long term.
This idea forms a key component of our Relationship-based Outsourcing methodology. Resolution Acceleration drives those better customer experiences that lead to stronger brand reputation.
4. Support service agents with technologies that empower them
We have a suite of technologies to support service agents, from interactive voice response technology to drive more relevant customers to agents, to a performance-management platform that supports service agents’ progress.
One of our technologies is Aigent, a companion AI-driven tool for agents that listens to calls in real time and suggests the next-best course of action.
In the first few months after deploying Aigent, the financial services brand BankMobile broke their own records in first call resolution (91.85) and NPS (65.2, which is incredibly high for a bank). Their detractors also dropped to an all-time low of 12.8%. The technology continues to help agents perform at the highest level with FCR reaching 94.1 in Q1 2021.
With the right technologies, agents can deliver CX to turn around satisfaction and loyalty scores and stabilize reputation.
5. Time your customer feedback requests carefully
Depending on the client’s objectives, the pacing for feedback requests can affect their quality and utility. Many companies take overarching NPS feedback less frequently than moment-specific CSAT. The latter is best for highly charged situations, both positive and negative, rather than neutral or irrelevant situations.
You should also ask for context with the scores. Use follow-up questions in surveys such as “Why are you giving this score?” and “What can we do to improve?”. That extra qualitative, emotional line of inquiry really helps you and your outsourcer understand how to improve that customer experience journey for the future.
As critical as NPS and CSAT scores are to elevating understanding and signaling success, it’s important not to get so caught up in the KPIs. They can’t capture everything.
For instance—no news can mean good news. Your most loyal customers are sometimes your most quiet ones, particularly if you’ve established low effort, high satisfaction processes. The best frictionless brand experiences are often invisible.
That’s why it’s a good idea to take your CX strategy beyond communication touchpoints and consider, for example, how the product or service itself performs, or whether a new policy is going to affect future interactions. Smoothing out issues past the usual service remit and eliminating reasons for customers to contact you builds up those next-generation customer experiences.
Partner with a proven outsourcer that really gets CX
High customer satisfaction scores help give some objectivity about the more nebulous reality of customer experiences. Where traditional outsourcers chase numbers at the expense of long-term growth and service quality, we believe Relationship-based Outsourcing can get you both high scores and high reputation.
To skyrocket NPS, CSAT and brand reputation, partner with a CX-first outsourcer who has proven they can turn companies around with agent technology, thoughtful feedback mechanisms and a deep understanding of what makes customers tick. Contact Ubiquity today to get started.
Want to know more about Relationship-based Outsourcing? Read how challenger brands are making deeper relationships work for them.
Sagar Rajgopal is president and chief customer officer for Ubiquity, where he works with clients to ensure that Ubiquity serves as a strategic partner that goes well beyond delivering KPIs.