Michelle Avinou, Senior Account Manager
At SYKES, we support our clients’ customers one caring interaction at a time.
Historically, our role has primarily been in support of product manufacturers. If a customer needs help with, say, their smartphone, beauty product or audio device, they contact the brand but are supported by us.
But the outsourcing industry has, and is, changing as companies increasingly recognise that professional outsourcers do a fantastic job. This means that we are now working with many more sectors than ever before, providing customer support to companies that, hitherto, were reluctant to outsource.
A good example is our support for one of the world’s leading banking groups.
SYKES was appointed by them in 2016 to support corporate cardholders, and therefore to handle and process extremely sensitive information. The project started with five agents but, because of excellent results and relationship management, we now have over 160 agents looking after the same client.
This growth was fuelled by SYKES being awarded additional projects, and we now support customers in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish.
Our objectives from the outset were to provide corporate cardholders with the best possible service and provide the bank with comprehensive data and analysis as well.
This can be an important reason for appointing an outsourcer because companies like SYKES have developed sophisticated models to turn raw data into actionable intelligence. That’s something that this banking client appreciates because we handle some 12,000 customer interactions per month – and sometimes many more.
This volume allowed us to create an escalation matrix, FAQ’s and trackers to provide detailed information on the types of questions agents were being asked. This, in turn, has enabled our client to introduce more customer-friendly systems and processes.
We introduced several key elements that facilitated improvement, including
- Process improvement recommendations that resulted in more robust customer identification and verification
- Redesigned processes, based on customer questions, that reduced call handle times and improved customer experience
- Improved efficiency in handling complaints and reduced the required team size. A further improvement is planned through automation opportunities identified
- Deployment of Connector, a bespoke SYKES CRM platform, to give our client a clearer picture of what customers are saying
Communication has been key from the start because this was the first time the bank had outsourced sensitive customer interactions. This programme requires difficult decisions to be made, and made correctly, to remain compliant with stringent banking regulations.
In this respect, best practice and governance is also about the practical things. SYKES invited regular visits by the bank, so that they became familiar with us as a partner, and introduced innovations like agent focus groups and Q&A sessions.
The strength of the relationship was quickly recognised by the bank which awarded SYKES further projects during 2017 to handle account remediation and provide business internet banking support
A key element of great client relations involves absolute transparency where, for example, we instituted a programme of Joint Call Calibration that requires both SYKES and our client to jointly monitor calls for consistency in responses.
Throughout, SYKES has achieved an extremely low level of escalations, a fact applauded by the corporate card team. Indeed, in relation to these, the bank’s Director of European Corporate Card Sales, said “my phone no longer rings since SYKES took over.”
We have also encouraged the bank to make full use of our language skills to enhance the customer experience around activities such as fraud management and complaints. This reduces the times needed to investigate individual cases, allows the bank to promote new language skills and, most importantly, provide a more personalised service to customers.
The SYKES team is always seeking to improve through innovation and is looking forward to commencing social media support and, through our SYKESHome program, recruit a number of home-workers to provide additional flexibility.
It’s a good example of how the outsourcing landscape has changed – a banking giant trusts SYKES with valuable corporate customers to deliver excellence in customer support.
This is also a good example of how much customer expectations have changed. What was once acceptable is no longer good enough.
SYKES has become a trusted partner to many companies across the globe. Simply, we strive to deliver a great service to our clients and their customers.