Customer service outsourcing in the public sector is on the rise.
A new Local Gov report has revealed that local authority outsourcing has increased 50% year on year in the first half of 2016. But what is the actual cost beyond the seemingly great financial savings for local authorities?
Here is a private sector example that we can all relate to. A supermarket customer has booked a delivery online and spent one hour completing the transaction. The customer waits in for the delivery that doesn’t turn up in its one-hour slot. After one and half hours, the customer calls the supermarket customer service line and after being on hold for a few minutes, gets put through to an ‘agent’ who asks a number of security questions before asking what the issue is. The customer advises the agent that the order has not arrived and expects the agent to have sight of the problem. The agent then calls the store where the order was picked and sent from. The customer waits on hold for a further eight minutes. The agent returns to the call with the given reason for the problem and to get to the bottom of it, the customer spends a further 45 minutes being put on hold, making repeat calls and finding out that the store and the agent are working off two different systems and that system updates have caused the problem. Add to this that the Agent doesn’t easily understand the customer (perhaps they were based in another country). The agent doesn’t have any authority to offer any compensation but merely apologises on behalf of the supermarket. The customer is left frustrated and decides not to buy online with that brand again.
It’s a good example because it shows the damage that an outsourced company can do to the customer journey. With misinformation, system integration difficulties and a ‘middleman’ mentality, how can that supermarket ensure that customers’ needs are being met?
That’s not to say that they’re all bad. Of course not. Recent Customer Service Excellence (CSE) standards are making it easier for companies to outsource to businesses that have agreed to meet them. And depending on the sector, there are many good companies out there.
Is there a better way?
Can outsourcing ever replicate the quality of interaction that a local authority or housing association employee can ever have with a customer? With greater insight into the organisation, the target audience, experience and knowledge across departments, customers can generally tell when they are dealing with someone who knows what they are talking about. With most public sector organisations trying to change customer behavior whilst servicing those same people, brand and care of duty cannot be underestimated.
Is Cloud the new outsourcing?
With Cloud CRM (Customer Relationship Management) technology, the budget restraints and cost pressures from unnecessary admin, staff training, staff turnover and complicated processes can almost be eradicated. Not only does that mean you don’t need a middleman, you also gain a huge amount of customer service advantage and data insight that will inform decision making in the short, medium and long term. Your staff are empowered to deliver a better customer journey from start to finish with improved collaboration, communication with customers, productivity and clear next steps in every case.
If you’d like to know more about the ways local authorities and housing associations could benefit from Microsoft Dynamics CRM, you might enjoy reading Top 10 Housing Association Outcomes of Microsoft Dynamics CRM infographic