4 min read

Great customer experience doesn’t ‘just happen’. It’s a journey.

By Fiona Campbell on 20-Jan-2021 10:06:16

Today, most companies understand the urgent need to focus on customer experience (CX). But in their efforts to offer the best experience, some fail to establish CX-goals which truly crystallise their ambition for success.

 

All companies align sales targets to revenue forecasts. However, many understate the extent to which sales and revenue are only possible if the customer is happy to use those products or services.

 

And while we are all seeking to serve our customers well in a way that is consistent with our brand, when it comes to the customer experience many companies aim to ‘exceed customer expectations’, or an equally familiar and vague goal is ‘to improve the customer experience’.

 

Both great aspirations, but neither are practical.

 

With 86% of consumers willing to pay more for a great customer experience, it’s worth considering when establishing CX-goals; you must first focus on getting the basics right before attempting to exceed your customers' expectations. You can’t deliver exceptional customer service if you’re not first starting from the point of just being ‘good’.

 

Ascensos Awarded Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year

 

And customers value consistency. Merely meeting customer expectations means; reducing customer effort - the work they must do to get their problem solved - across the entire customer journey, with helpful brand ambassadors on the frontline, who deliver friendly service and are quick to respond and resolve customer issues.

 

Research from Gartner proves that customer loyalty increases when expectations are met – and it doesn’t change when expectations are exceeded, with 32% of customers walking away from a brand they love after a single bad experience. 

 

Poorly defined CX-goals with no timeframes that are never measured and originate from disparate data sets will quickly become barriers to success. As will customer satisfaction measurements, if they fail to align with your CX-goals, or if the customer's voice is undervalued.

 

Nearly every company knows that its customer experience must be better if it wants to win and keep customers. But you can’t achieve this without a solid strategy and the expertise to implement that plan, which the team at Ascensos excel at.

 

hike-in-salmon-glacier-PTY86V8 698x400📷 Image by Galyna_Andrushko

It’s a journey, with concrete and well-defined CX-goals as the north star, which will enable your team to achieve sustainable improvements to your customer experience, as they work towards and measure the success of one common desired result.

 

Working to define what success truly looks like for your brand requires getting as specific as possible to make realistic and measurable improvements. And at Ascensos, we don’t believe in an “off-the-shelf” approach or a "one-size-fits-all" solution. For us, it’s all about personalisation and partnership, as we combine our experience and expertise to create intelligent and bespoke solutions that are tailored to your individual needs.

 

So if you need a safe pair of hands to guide you through your CX-journey confidently, then get in touch and let’s talk or email us at partnership@ascensos.com.

 

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Topics: customer experience
2 min read

‘Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year’ Winner 2020

By Fiona Campbell on 20-Nov-2020 10:40:00

Ascensos has been named ‘Contact Centre of the Year’ in the outsourced category, at the 2020 South West Contact Centre Awards (SWCCF), in relation to our partnership with retailer Wickes.

During an entertaining and interactive virtual awards ceremony on the 20th November, the Ascensos Team, based on the Isle of Wight, celebrated industry recognition for their delivery of Wickes specialised kitchen and bathroom customer engagement programme.

Built on the success of our Wickes team in Scotland, who since the beginning of our partnership, have delivered inbound customer engagement on behalf of Wickes. The opportunity, to expand the scope of our core delivery through the introduction of a specialist Wickes team from our contact centre in England, has been a game changer for both businesses.

Ascensos and Wickes📷 Image: The team at Ascensos, SWCCF 2020 winners of 'Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year' in partnership with Wickes. 

Best in class partnership.


To Ascensos every client is unique. We recognise the people behind each brand as individuals who are accountable, with corporate and departmental objectives and an individual vision for what they want to achieve for their customers.

Likewise, Ascensos are determined to reimagine the 21st century contact centre environment where we immerse ourselves in our clients’ brand as we create a culture and workplace where every voice, idea and opinion is key to our employee experience.

It is only possible to align these two visions to drive the right corporate behaviours, through committed time spent in each other’s working environment. This is how the Wickes and Ascensos teams have worked from the outset to understand the Wickes brand's objectives and goals.

An outstanding commitment to collaboration.


The annual South West Contact Centre (SWCCF) Awards is a celebration of contact centre excellence for businesses operating in the South West of England.

Richard King, Business Unit Director at Ascensos, said “I am so proud of the team for the work that they have done to elevate the Wickes customer experience, across every customer journey and all areas of the business.

They work hard to ensure Wickes customers receive the same exceptional service regardless of channel and I’m delighted Ascensos has been recognised as a best in industry benchmark at the SWWCF Awards.

We work in complete partnership with Wickes, with the ultimate success criteria for us as a partner, being the impact, we have on making Wickes business work more effectively and efficiently.

The measurement of that success, day to day, across all our client partnerships is our performance against agreed metrics, but over the lifetime of each partnership, it is the degree to which our clients deepen our engagement with their business”.

About the SWCCF
Established in 2008, the South West Contact Centre Forum (SWCCF) covers one of the largest regions in the UK, which includes Bristol, Bath, Swindon, Cheltenham and Plymouth. The Forum delivers extensive support to the region’s 250 employers who collectively employ circa 52,000 people in both the Public and Private sector. It represents clients in the highly professional and regulated areas of financial and legal services, ICT, retail, utilities and creative sectors, and boasts some of the biggest companies in the UK.

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Ascensos Awarded Excellence in Customer Service 2020

Topics: Corporate
3 min read

‘Excellence in Customer Service’ Winner 2020

By Fiona Campbell on 12-Nov-2020 10:23:00

Ascensos tops the shortlist at the National Global Sourcing Association, 2020 Professional Awards.

The entire team at Ascensos were honoured to receive this years’ award for ‘Excellence in Customer Service’, in relation to our partnership with retailer ALDI.

Ascensos and Aldi📷 Image: The team at Ascensos, GSA UK 2020 winners of 'Excellence in Customer Service' in partnership with ALDI UK. 

The Professional Awards are a set of accolades recognising talented individuals and teams behind the strategic sourcing industry.

In making their decision, GSA judges looked for evidence on how Ascensos deliver client benefits with vision, strategy and innovation. Industry winners were announced on 12th November 2020, during the GSA's first glittering virtual awards ceremony.

Ascensos competed against best in industry finalists, across multiple sectors, markets and geographies, to be recognised as the UK's 2020 benchmark in 'customer service excellence'.

Elevating ALDI’s customer experience.


From onboarding to training; our Team approach, true to the Ascensos vision, is built on communication. And together with ALDI, we designed a colleague engagement programme, based on Ascensos and ALDI combined values and principle, aligned to ALDI’s unique ethos.

The result was a simple yet highly effective employee experience which continues to positively impact on ALDI’s business and is fundamental in elevating ALDI’s customer experience.

With significant contact centre experience supporting many national and international retail brands, Ascensos has extensive experience creating strategic sourcing partnerships based on trust, collaboration and continuous improvement.

Claire Sixsmith, Business Unit Director at Ascensos, said “We’re incredibly proud to be recognised at the GSA awards, it’s recognition for our team and all the hard work they’ve done on behalf of our partnership with ALDI.

Our goal from the very beginning was to elevate the ALDI customer experience and amaze both ALDI’s customers and internal stakeholders. Across our industry it is well understood that a happy employee means a happy customer. In creating Ascensos, we wanted to build on that and go deeper.

We recognised that what makes an employee happy is the respect, integrity and flexibility we show our staff as an employer. This means providing the right training and working environment, the right technology to do the job well and as an employer, an empathic approach to our colleagues changing needs".

Raising the bar on industry standards.


Kerry Hallard, CEO of the Global Sourcing Association UK said: “Huge congratulations to all the winners. Well-deserved wins across the spectrum of the sourcing industry demonstrating the great talent in this space, but also showcasing the great work delivered by teams around the world. These were highly competitive awards again this year and as such I must also recognise the great work of all those individuals and organisations that made it to the shortlist”.

About the GSA
The Global Sourcing Association UK (GSA) is the industry association and professional body for the global sourcing industry, and home of the Global Sourcing Standard. Its overriding objective is the ongoing development and dissemination of the Standard and supporting portfolio of qualifications in order to improve the benefits from, and positive reputation and therefore size of, the global sourcing industry.

The GSA also serves to share best practice, trends and connections across the globe and to bring the global community together in a wholly interactive manner for the first time. The Global Sourcing Association UK, also known as GSA-UK, was formerly known as the National Outsourcing Association in the UK.

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Ascensos Awarded Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year

Topics: Corporate
3 min read

Major expansion into Turkey announced by CEO

By William Carson on 08-Jul-2020 09:43:58

Contact centre operator Ascensos announces major expansion into Turkey – part of planned Pan-European push.

Customer management and service provider Ascensos is to open its first contact centre in Turkey as part of an expansion into eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

The move by Europe’s leading independent customer experience operator will serve clients that plan to expand across western, central and eastern Europe. Ascensos will also support brands flowing in the opposite direction.

The new operation by the rapidly growing Motherwell-based company will be located in a central business district of Istanbul, the largest metropolitan city in Europe.

Ascensos Awarded Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year

 

John Devlin, Ascensos CEO & Co-Founder, said: “We see the same global growth opportunities that our clients do coming out of the Covid-19 lockdown, particularly looking deeper into Europe and Asia, although this is a move we began planning before the coronavirus pandemic. We will help them develop those opportunities, using our strong regional connections and innovative, agile customer support culture.”

Turkey sits at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, retaining its historic position as a global centre for international trade. Much of its workforce is fluent in languages such as English, German, Russian, Greek, Spanish and Arabic.

“Turkey is the perfect cosmopolitan hub from which to seize growth in a profoundly changing retail trading landscape. It opens up opportunities for Ascensos to compete in new markets, such as Germany and the Middle East, helping brands reach into the UK and EU as well as to better serve their domestic and regional customers.

“Our expertise in managing omnichannel customer engagement in the UK, one of the most competitive and demanding markets in the world, is invaluable to retailers based in other parts of the globe.


the-view-over-the-bosphorus-strait-istanbul-turkey-P95J8L9 698x400

📷 Image:The view over the Bosphorus strait, Istanbul, Turkey. Source @twenty20photos

Executive Chairman & Co-Founder, Dermot Jenkinson added: “The launch of Ascensos Turkey is a key strategic move for us, and Istanbul is the appropriate place to be geographically because of its long history as the bridge between trading worlds."

The move into Turkey is the latest stage of an expansion strategy developed by Ascensos last year that includes reaching into substantial untapped consumer markets across the world.

For further information visit www.ascensos.com

Ascensos Awarded Excellence in Customer Service 2020

About Ascensos:
The company, which is headquartered in Motherwell, Scotland, was founded by Dermot Jenkinson and John Devlin in 2013 and has six contact centres across the UK, Central and Eastern Europe. It is a gold medal winner at the European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards and supports more than 20 clients, including high street names such as KFC, Aldi, B&Q, Wickes and JD Sports. Revenues in 2019 were £30 million.

Ascensos Media Contacts:
Toby Moore
E: toby@applebycomms.com
M: +44(0)7976 942209

Fiona Campbell
E: fiona.campbell@ascensos.com
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Topics: Corporate
4 min read

Retail's new foot fall: the customer service team

By William Carson on 20-May-2020 11:40:00

COVID is with us now and into the foreseeable. Retailers with an active or soon to be active ecommerce solution and strategy can best support their ROI by running a great customer management operation handling voice and non-voice channels. Supported by dynamic, analytical insights and operationalized sales through service initiatives, the customer management team effectively becomes the new ‘foot fall’ for the retail sector.

As perfect is the enemy of good, and procrastination is the enemy of accomplishment, right now we’re beginning to see how pessimism, particularly in the mainstream media, will fast become the enemy of vision, growth and success. The opener in an FT article this week ran: ‘With the economy in recession, government borrowing and debt piling higher and unemployment set to rise sharply, the journey no longer looks so enticing.’ While the article dealt primarily with the issue of ‘exceptionalism’ in British politics, it also painted a grim landscape for the economy. This week was also the first-time panelists on webinars were talking openly about recession - as a reality, not a possibility.

And yet businesses like at Ascensos in CX BPO are busy. Ecommerce clients in retail are benefiting from customers’ inability to get out on the high street and into shopping malls.

This has led to increased volumes in customer contact across all contact channels and already we are reuniting our fabulous staff with their teams – albeit remotely. Retail brands’ internal contact centres too are also experiencing an uplift in customer business and along with increased productivity, lower absenteeism and sickness with W@H, there is clearly a disconnect between the headline writers and readers.

Retail New Foot Fall2_WC 698x349 By Aldi📷 Aldi & Deliveroo announce partnership. Photo credit Aldi.

This week Aldi announced its partnership with Deliveroo which speaks loudly of innovation and seizing the moment. It’s a great example of what one Everest Group analyst referred to recently in a webinar as a shift away from the ‘not invented here’ and ‘best in breed’ towards ‘fit for purpose’ and partnership. Deliveroo customers will be able to select Aldi products including bread, milk, fruit and vegetables, which will be packed by the grocer’s staff in stores. Deliveroo’s riders will then deliver the items to customers’ homes in half an hour or so. It’s the perfect solution to that old conundrum – there are no corner shops on a round-about which are built into many new-build estates in the UK these days.

Ascensos Awarded Excellence in Customer Service 2020

Meanwhile online retail association IMRG has reported that multi-channel retailers have seen online sales grow 35% during the period, compared to a more modest 8.3% increase for pure-play retailers. The online retail index showed online sales surged in April to a 10-year high, up 23.8% year on year.

There is a danger with this unexpected success to simply touch your rabbit foot, expel a great big sigh of relief and get back to work in whatever form of normal you can. But that’s missing the point. The global pandemic is driving new consumer behaviours. This is the time to truly engage CX analytics and insights as drivers for growth that in turn drive customer contact programmes to deliver effective sales through service initiatives.

According to the latest Global Webindex report on consumer behaviour, retail customers are seeking experiences as much as products with 57% stating they would ‘rather spend money on a unique experience than a status brand’ and 36% would ‘buy a product/service simply for the experience of being part of the community built around it.’

The report was compiled pre-covid and a great deal of the ’unique experiences’ referred to were in-store, harnessing VR/AR, smart mirror technology and customer labs. With stores remaining closed, an unknown customer appetite for returning to the high street, and social distancing measures potentially limiting the impact of ‘the in-store experience’ for some time, the customer management team provides a real opportunity for customers to experience the brands voice and story in a direct and ‘unique’ manner.

Ascensos Awarded Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year

Sales are central to the customer experience. Rather than discover a great deal post-sale, when purchasing an individual item, brand advocates as customers, would rather hear about an accessory or complementary purchase from an experienced advisor who has just helped a previous customer place an order for similar products or services. At scale, predictive analytics are key to support advisors with qualified suggestions for incremental sales i.e. those item ‘bundles’ or clusters that have the most propensity to be taken up by the customer as the ‘next best offer’ or action. Solutions are available now to achieve this, linking customer personas, stock, purchasing behaviour and likelihood of a successful sale.

As all of us head into the unknown for the remainder or 2020, what we do know has to play a greater part in our strategic planning and tactical approach to retaining and developing customers. We operate in a data-rich economy, where digital and automation solutions can feed real time, ‘right first time’ customer contact scenarios to customer management teams on live chat, on email and on the phones. Retail has proven more resilient than many imagined this year, the retail apocalypse has happened elsewhere, indeed the pandemic, regrettable as it is, has re-calibrated the mighty and the ‘just starting out’ brands through their common limitations on opportunities to engage with customers. The visionary customer management centre and empowered teams built around the interoperability of agile ‘humanodigital’ sales through service solutions will be a game changer.   

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4 min read

Normal sucked. Let's make sure new normal doesn't

By William Carson on 21-Apr-2020 11:06:00

Since lockdown, it's been easy to mythologise 'normal' as if the markets and economies generally were taking full advantage of what 21st century CX had to offer.

Many people in fact, were simply coping in their different ways, with internal struggles, professionally and personally, with tech trends and acronyms - from AI to IVA, NPS to CES. Analysts meanwhile continued to point out areas of opportunity for truly agile and adaptable businesses while suggesting remedial strategies to avoid irrelevance for those that were dragging their heels.

In that pre-pandemic reality of course, the 20th century continued to hold sway over large sectors of business thinking, modelling and deployment, while one person's normal, professionally or otherwise, was another's history lesson. I hear of bosses who want to 'see the whites of their eyes' rather than allow staff to work from home (not in the BPO sector I must add), while others are so comfortable with video calls that they need to be reminded not everyone needs a guided tour of their home, or an introduction to the cat.

Ascensos Awarded Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year

As customers, what is 'normal' has always meant different things dependent on the market served, the products or services on offer, and the age, or more broadly, the generation of the individual engaged, and channels available. These overlap of course and in some cases are linear for most while others are more nuanced and determined by one or other of these parameters.

From company posts and comments shared online with industry colleagues over the past weeks, there can be no doubt that the clear direction of travel is towards a more tech-enabled CX paradigm, as stakeholders in automation and AI solutions vie for attention with cloud-based tools and infrastructure. Meanwhile, 'normal' board-level debate regarding solution development and attendant business decision making, involving months of meetings and sub-committees, has been truncated to one-hour Zoom calls and follow up emails - proving in a moment, such an approach was always possible.

home working featured📷 Image: Home working, the new norm. Photo credit: twenty20photos

Indeed, to some degree the response needed to the pandemic has accelerated brands along the 'righteous path' towards blended solutions: the appropriate application of automation, machine learning and RPA, alongside focused, empathetic and intelligence-led advisor populations handling complex, emotive customer engagement. At the same time, the W@H requirement has reduced site occupancy to zero or essential personnel only, with record increases in productivity and reduced absenteeism, with cloud technologies being tested to the max in real time, every time.

But in operationalising the new normal, we must reflect on what we've learned in our collective response to the regrettable circumstance of the pandemic.

We don't need to travel so much, even those of us with a face for radio can do a video call. Sure, we've lost the water cooler chat, but we've also lost the frustrated daily commute, and managed to weaponise the Zoom Party with Shiraz, Prosecco and beer! And we don't all need to work from an office all of the time. CEOs and CFOs are already doing the maths, revising, and in some cases, curtailing commercial property leases and expansion. Yes, there are security and regulatory concerns, but there are health concerns too. A tried and tested vaccine is months away, if not longer, and nobody is predicting a relaxation of lock down means crowding back onto public transport and office floors. New health and safety measures and working practices will require immediate implementation, and companies that proactively seek solutions that put employees at ease will more quickly re-populate their sites.

Ascensos Awarded Excellence in Customer Service 2020

As customers we're also re-calibrating. What we considered a valuable purchase in February 2020 may seem rash right now.

Whatever the product or service, if we can't enjoy it, need it or find a use for it in and around the home, it's likely to fall to the bottom of the wish list. However, that includes a significant slice of ecommerce, retail and essential markets in food, grocery, consumer electronics and those all-important 'office consumables'. Subscription services too are growing offering content and entertainment for distraction-hungry kids, education and keep fit programmes. The real losers here may be those brands that have come to depend on an ill-defined relationship between footfall and online, they may not have invested enough in either.

Normal sucked3_WC 698x400 Getty featured📷 Image: Demise of the High Street. Photo credit: gettyimages

Some markets won't recover or at least will need significant consolidation to survive. Automotive, travel, leisure and luxury - as Instagram influencers are finding out, when FOMO (fear of missing out) is no longer a thing - the high value purchase needs a far greater justification. The real danger for the economy lies in the impact on employment. Those products and services we only enjoy when away from the home are supported by a multitude of primary and secondary industries with a significant workforce.

And then there's the most expensive sector of all - housing. Both the financial crash in 2008 and the EU Referendum vote in 2016 deflated house values to a greater or lesser degree across the UK, it's doubtful with an economic slump of this magnitude that bricks and mortar won't take a hit, with London estate agent Knight Frank forecasting the three Ds - devaluation, divorce and debt - putting a major brake on house sales in 2020.

In the end, lock-downs will lift, and however its organised, people will go back to work, will begin to travel once more to see family, friends and lovers, and will begin to socialise once again as before.

5G will arrive and with it new smart devices, IoT, VR and a slew of innovative products for home and corporate use. It would be a fitting testimony to the sacrifices so many have made if investments were made immediately in how these could benefit the medical and care fields in particular, as well as the forward planning and preparedness for future crises.

Finally, whatever the challenges that beset us as adults, it is the next generation whom we must support and encourage to see a future full of opportunities and possibilities, with energy and enthusiasm, that should no longer resemble the normalcy of the 20th century we took so long to shake off but give way to the potential exuberance (some might say 'chaos') of the 21st.

Pre-pandemic 'normal' wasn't all that - let's make sure the 'new normal' is the best of us!

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3 min read

Plan early for peak success

By William Carson on 13-Mar-2020 12:19:41

For many brands, last year’s Golden Quarter has ended and the subsequent ‘deep dive’ reviews and lessons learned now form the basis of planned strategies and tactics for next year’s peak.

To truly benefit from such an intense programme of reflection, planning needs to start immediately to ensure that retailers can deliver on their objectives and achieve their goals. This will allow time to explore in detail everything from better use of automation tools, workforce management, resource structure and forecasting, to use of partners and suppliers.

Get ahead of the game on traditional peak season planning


According to Statista, the most recent UK governmental figures placed the value of UK e-commerce sales at £586 billion.

By 2021, roughly 93 percent of UK internet users are expected to do online shopping, the highest online shopping penetration rate in Europe.

At the same time, what constitutes ‘peak’ in retail and ecommerce is extending across multiple quarters, with annual public holidays and discount and promotional events augmenting traditional seasonal sales and celebrations. Combined with the ubiquitous use of smart mobile device and ‘in-app’ purchases, the demands on customer contact channels are only going in one direction.

Ascensos Awarded Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year

Peak preparation then should incorporate all available tech tools, examine opportunities for automation in front and back office, and review the structuring of teams to include ring-fenced specialists and blended activities. Volume forecasting and subsequent resource modelling is also crucial, and that includes social media teams, to ensure 360 degree coverage of channels where brand reputation can fall foul of third party challenges including logistics such as delivery issues.

blog-analysis-people-technology-mission_t20_VKNvmP📷 @FotoArtist via Twenty20


People remain core to customer contact and many retailers will continue to offer overtime at their busiest periods. For many employees, overtime is attractive for obvious reasons, but contact centre operators need to ensure staff want to be there. By providing good down time activities and amenities, and by being cognitive of staff burnout, it will be easier to put in place processes and facilities to address employee ‘wellness’. Well-being is important to morale at any time of year but especially when teams expand for peak.

Partnering with a customer management services provider is also a core component for many national and international brands. With their focus on scalability and flexibility across multiple channels, sites and geographies, they can help retail brands reduce the pressure on in-house teams. The added complexity of resourcing multi-lingual customer contact for peak can also be passed to the services provider and will benefit from in-country recruitment knowledge and expertise.

Ascensos Awarded Excellence in Customer Service 2020

According to the Sabio CCMA Benchmarking report 2019, for the first time, voice is no longer offered by 100% of participants. Email remains strong, offered by 95% while Social is offered by 79%, and Webchat continues to grow. Once again, a partner can be the right choice where contact channel capability or capacity is insufficient to accommodate spikes in customer demand and helps avoid service degradation and associated reputational risk.

Whatever the options retailers choose to consider, early co-planning is critical, both internally across sales, operations and marketing, and externally with partners and suppliers. And communication will remain key between all stakeholder partners and is never more important than during peak to achieve success and business goals.

Partner with Ascensos to discover a fresh approach to customer service outsourcing

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Topics: customer service outsourcing peak planning
4 min read

Helping brands & their customers stay in love

By Fiona Campbell on 14-Feb-2020 16:12:02

Love is certainly in the air at Ascensos today. There’s been a flurry of love notes exchanged among teammates delivered by a couple of nominated colleague cupids and a sea of people wearing the colour of love as far as our eyes can see. Kudos to our Marketing Team who most definitely nailed todays’ love theme in honour of the great hallmark celebration that is Valentine's Day.

But dare I say that we are in fact switched onto the love vibes all year round here at Ascensos. As engagement experts, our goal is to help brands and their customers stay in love. It’s something that we’re extremely passionate about. All day, every day.

valpic📷 #theAteam colleagues enjoying Valentine's Day celebrations at our Motherwell Contact Centre /Ascensos

As every retailer is fully aware, for consumers the next best thing is always a mere click away, making brand loyalty a battlefield for any business that doesn’t take their customers’ expectations seriously, or make their customer experience a priority.

So, because we’re good at it (but mainly since it’s Valentine’s Day), we’ve been mulling over our ‘Top 6 Romance Rules’ essential to ‘keep that special spark’ alive between a brand and their customers.

Romance Rule #1: Speak the same love language.

Simply put, if you want your customers to love your brand, you need to keep it real. Brand loyalty has everything to do with how consumers perceive your brand, whether it be through marketing activity, reputation or service. Consumers want to believe in brands that represent something true and authentic – and that requires consistency and trust. For our frontline Customer Service Advisors, every interaction matters as they are empowered to play their part in delivering your brand story, adopting your brands’ tone of voice and understanding your product offering inside out, to ensure long lasting relationships with your customers.

Romance Rule #2: Maintain high standards.

Setting the right standards in customer service is crucial for performance. It gives frontline Customer Service Advisors something to aim for, an incentive to improve. But using the right combination of metrics as a measurement of success is key to that continual improvement. Be that speed of response, first-contact resolution, Customer Effort Score (CES) or Net Promoter Score (NPS). The essential questions are; was the customers problem resolved efficiently? Did they leave happy?  Are they still in love?

Romance Rule #3: Listen with the intent to understand.

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. To successfully build a rapport with customers, be that over the phone, via email, live chat or on social media, demonstrating empathy and understanding is an extremely important factor when it comes to providing a great service experience.

Whether customers call about a problem or complaint, our job is to make them feel heard, respected and understood. Acknowledging customer concerns with empathy and understanding is essential to good communication and great service. Imagine yourself in that customer’s shoes and make their problems your own. Would you do anything different to meet their expectations?

Ascensos Awarded Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year

Romance Rule #4: Ask questions.

Ask the right questions and then use the data to build more in-depth customer profiles. Translating customer data into insight will keep your brand relevant and make a huge difference in the way you relate to your customers, the products you recommend and/or the solutions you provide.

Customers expect a personalised experience full of personality, attention, respect, and appreciation. Being smart with data will help to strengthen their connection with your brand, making your customers feel valued. And customers love brands more when they feel loved.

Romance Rule #5: Make it memorable.

It is essential that we establish connections that are so special and memorable that a customer desires to keep coming back for more. So, keep delighting them. Reduce customer effort and don’t leave them waiting, deal with difficult conversations upfront and always follow-up. Make the customer journey as seamless as possible and give them a reason to stay.

A warm, personal service is always a fantastic reminder of why they fell in love. Make them feel as special as new customers. Retention is just as important as acquisition.

Ascensos Awarded Excellence in Customer Service 2020

Romance Rule #6: Practice self-care.

Happy people keep people happy, which is vital when it comes to caring for the needs of customers. For many brands their frontline colleagues can be one of the biggest untapped resources when creating a great customer experience.

The space where you work and the people that surround you play a key role in ensuring you love what you do. At Ascensos, we’ve always placed a real emphasis on the employee experience, to create an enjoyable environment and culture of fun and inclusion for all our colleagues. It’s certainly working today!

Customers leave a brand because of a bad or an indifferent experience. Needs are not met. Relevance is lost. Values no longer align. And trust is broken.

All brands must rise to the occasion to stay on top, but sometimes endless love requires some expertise and a little TLC.

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Topics: customer expectations customer service
8 min read

Emerging technology is accelerating. But who's driving your CX?

By Fiona Campbell on 05-Feb-2020 13:22:44

2020 kicked off with CES in Las Vegas which highlighted the increasing emphasis on empowered technology to engage customers. 

 

As the pace of digital transformation accelerates, digitalisation and particularly emerging technologies are fundamentally changing how customers interact with retail brands, and with it the vast implications and opportunities it will present for the customer experience, profitability, and growth.

 

Retaining a competitive advantage by delivering excellent customer service is becoming increasingly challenging for retail businesses striving to be on the forward edge of delivering the customer experience expected by today’s savvy consumer.

 

The impact of 5G, AI, IoT and Voice Search on the retail customer experience

 

In-store retail technology is evolving even from today’s mobile POS terminals. Interactive displays, QR codes, and real-time marketing delivery via iBeacons on instore Wi-Fi networks are core to brand engagement and sales efficiency. Consumers are beginning to see autonomous smart shopping carts and intelligent mirrors that display product information, like at JD owned 7Fresh in China. Nike and Amazon Go’s mobile checkouts now extend across the US, Specsavers launched its live imaging tool for comparing frames in the UK, while Sephora’s virtual artist and makeover services are available at its connected stores in France.

 

JD.com-7Fresh-intelligent-mirror

📷 Image: 7Fresh supermarkets in China feature intelligent mirrors displaying nutritional value and product information /JD.com

 

It’s not just physical retail that is integrating these advances in technology. Online retail must also deliver an equally compelling experience and any associated customer service channel must also remain at the cutting edge. After all, as per PwC, one in three customers will not return after a single poor customer service experience and this figure rises to as much as 92% after more than one bad experience.

 

1-in-3-customers-will not return 800x430

 

5G – instantaneous rich communication and enabling IoT


The next 18–24 months, will see the global implementation of 5G wireless networks. Downloads will become a thousand times faster and there will be much lower latency providing brands with enriched engagement opportunities with customers. 5G will effectively enable the age of the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) as consumers will be more connected than ever before; mobile devices will become like high-powered PCs and voice and text communication will always be instantaneous.

 

5G also presents opportunities for customer experience management improvements and innovation. The enabling of faster data collection, particularly when combined with AI, will result in real-time product and service personalisation quickly becoming a matter of course – subsequently driving customer expectations of brand engagement to new levels.

 

Online customer engagement will inevitably become more responsive, yet become as personal as physical face-to-face interaction, with improvements in the delivery of live web chat and video customer service communications.

 

Ascensos Awarded Excellence in Customer Service 2020

 

Co-browsing will also become more accessible, where customer service advisors view and interact with consumer devices in real-time, to guide shoppers and perform tasks on their behalf. With 5G we can expect to see an upward trend, as Forbes report that customer service co-browsing experiences lead to customer satisfaction rates more than six points higher than average.

 

Voice Search – fast, accurate response and 24/7 voice assistance

Voice Search is starting to replace text search, but it also means a consumer who asks a detailed question rather than entering two- or three-word search terms expects a better response.

 

ComScore predicts half of all searches will be voice-activated in 2020. Though these searches might be directed at Siri, Cortana, or Alexa at first, the expectation and technology will open up new opportunities for retailers to enable a response to voice searches using voice assistants and bots. Especially within e-commerce websites.

 

alexa-cortana-listening-800x430 📷 Alexa Voice Service (AVS) is an intelligent voice recognition and natural language understanding service /Amazon

 

Brands will need to improve their content to ensure a voice assistant presents their site and products ahead of others. And voice advances will mean that shoppers can add items to their baskets on the move as they find the answers to basic enquiries. 

 

Chatbots will be available and used in real-time and on mobile and when combined with AI’s data gathering and learned response, will get better and better. Chatbots and virtual assistants will become so data powered and advanced, understanding buying behaviour so comprehensively, that they will be used to upsell and cross-sell to great effect. That said, expert humans still need to be available to implement, manage and support these systems.


An outsourcing partnership to confidently guide you through your digital journey.

 

For retailers, evolving the customer experience to become a seamless and truly insight-driven journey calls for a partnership with customer engagement experts, who are trusted technology specialists already at the cusp of technological advancement, with their finger on the pulse.

 



“Empowered by technology, the hyperconnected consumer is redefining value. The traditional measures
of cost, choice, and convenience are still relevant, but now control and experience are also important.”

World Economic Forum, Future of Retail.

 


 

5G brings huge opportunity, but it also presents significant risk which demands robust security controls around online interactions. Calling for todays' customer service outsourcers to be experts in handling and protecting data, GDPR and cybersecurity as well as being data specialists with the ability to process and translate this data into actionable insights. 

 

Ascensos Awarded Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year

 

Customer service outsourcers benefit from the economies of scale of implementing emerging technologies throughout every aspect of the customer journey, creating cost-saving opportunities in time, investment, and resources for their retail partners. Such customer service outsourcers are strategically positioned to drive innovation on behalf of their clients, with the shared goal of creating industry-leading retail customer experiences.

 

And the opportunities don’t end there. 

 

With emerging technologies replacing time-consuming simple question and answer responses and data gathering processes, human customer service advisors need to be more capable than ever before. As they will become the first point of human call for challenging complex disputes or for technical product problem resolution. This growing need for engagement specialists who deal with lower volumes but with higher expertise, will become vital and outsourcing the customer experience is one way to quickly take advantage of expert teams without the hassle of recruiting and training them.

 

And now with chatbots picking up a high percentage of basic customer enquiries, these expert customer service advisors, empowered by data and technology will gain the bandwidth to focus on upselling and cross-selling. So not only can outsourcing partners and their highly skilled workforce produce cost savings, but they can also become an added source of revenue generation.

 

Outsourcing the customer experience leaves retailers free to concentrate on product delivery, development, and in-store operations, and with the right customer service outsourcing partner they can capitalise on the opportunity to architect a new technology-fuelled, retail customer experience.

 

Partner with Ascensos to discover a fresh approach to customer service outsourcing

 

If you're in need of a fresh approach to your customer service outsourcing, let’s talk. Arrange a call with our Consultants or email us at partnership@ascensos.com.

Topics: customer experience emerging technology customer service outsourcing
4 min read

CX with a human touch, retail, RPA & Alexa

By Fiona Campbell on 14-Jan-2020 11:45:00

In December, John Devlin, CEO at Ascensos, Europe’s leading customer service outsourcing partner, discussed retaining the human element of customer experience (CX) in the face of so many emerging technologies.

John talks with Mark Hilary of the CX Files from his office in Romania, about the ability for robotic process automation (RPA) to reduce repetitive tasks and the impact of voice technology, particularly within the smart-connected home environment where Amazon Echo and voice assistant Alexa may change all our shopping habits, paving the way for more complex integration of biometrics to streamline customer experience programs.



Voice technology, says John, is finally getting its day as the technology has advanced enough not to frustrate customers”. It will change shopping habits and become so empathetic to the customer journey to the point where the AI-enabled systems can suggest the next best product in order to drive future sales.

5G too will be a game-changer as it powers the connection and integration of emerging technologies and leads to a more seamless and instantaneous customer experience.

The CX CEO says, the key to choosing the right technology to augment customer service is identifying and “measuring differentiating value,” rather than choosing technology, “for tech’s sake.”

He also believes we shouldn’t “forget about the value of human interaction,” and that maximum customer impact is obtained by a person, whether face to face or over the phone, when customers see them as “having gone the extra mile.”

The key for Ascensos and John in delivering the best-in-class customer experience is blending technology and augmenting it with highly skilled, highly engaged colleagues to provide a real “wow” factor for customers. By investing in RPA to simplify processes, benefits are evident for both contact centre colleagues and our customers. For advisors, having RPA technology underpinning their actions, will ultimately make life easier, freeing up time for them to focus on complex resolution and great customer outcomes. For our customers, reducing effort is where the real gains are to be made.

Evolve or die on CX

John says brands who are not evolving today are dying as 24/7 omnichannel customer service becomes an expectation. Consumers are crying out for brands they can believe in, brands that are honest, authentic, responsible and demonstrate high integrity. As we go into the next decade, he is adamant that trust and transparency will be fundamental to building real brand value.

For Ascensos, a lot of time is spent supporting clients in the retail space to build their customer charter and the solutions that hang from that before delivering the customer interaction that comes as a result. Today, customer service metrics, says John, should not measure calls in contact centres but instead customer happiness and delight. Thus, making the after-contact NPS survey redundant, as true customer sentiment can be easily obtained from social media listening, and this is already happening – if brands would just listen.

Managing that data to draw powerful, meaningful insights will come down to how retailers are deploying RPA and AI to help measure the right behaviours and how these technologies are then used to gain insight into what matters to all brands – the level of customer happiness and loyalty.



 “The goal for CX going into the next decade should be on creating brand value that nurtures customers
into fans. As only then, as brand advocates will customers willingly pay more for a product”.

John Devlin, CEO & Co-Founder, Ascensos



Further expansion is on the horizon in 2020 for Ascensos contact centres. And as with any truly entrepreneurial business, the momentum is high, as plans are underway to expand their proposition both in the UK and Central and Eastern Europe. The emergence of these technologies has undoubtedly had a massive part to play in future growth plans for John and his team, as they continue to widen the net on the core services that they offer today.

About CX Files:
CX Files features your host, writer and analyst Mark Hillary, speaking each week to leading analysts, thinkers, and practitioners focused on managing the Customer Experience (CX). In each episode Mark and his guests explore the future of CX, the important trends, and what customers really expect from brands today.

For more on Mark Hilary's podcasts visit the CX Files.

Partner with Ascensos to discover a fresh approach to customer service outsourcing

If you're in need of a fresh approach to your customer service outsourcing, let’s talk. Arrange a call with our Consultants or email us at partnership@ascensos.com.

Topics: emerging technology