In this article, Matt Litherland gives us his own specialist insights into how to win more clients for your contact centre, including 13 key tips that will help you to do so.
I’ve been involved in the contact centre world both directly and indirectly for over 15 years, and as a result have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of the industry. Whether it’s setting up contact centres from scratch, managing multiple large outsourcers or consulting on an international basis, it still fascinates me how many continue to get it wrong. This is a well-trodden path after all.
Don’t get me wrong. Some are also trail blazing, and whilst it feels very obvious to say it, it is the ones that are focusing on basic and sound commercial, operational and people principles that are doing the best. This is by no means confined to the contact centre industry either, by the way.
With so much best practice available, why do so many struggle? I have been involved in more contact centre tender processes than I would ever care to admit to, more often than not on the client side. What separates the brilliant from the average and poor is a real appreciation of both the client they are pitching to and, just as important, the context of the current market environment that the business operates in. This is the really key bit.
I remember being involved in such a process when I was at GE, right at the time IMD and TCF was very much front of mind. This was all we cared about, and if any of those centres had focused their pitch on this, had shown that they understood what it all meant, and had considered the impact on both their and my business, then they would have won hands down. What we didn’t want to hear at that point was how good at sales they were, how brilliant at objection handling, and how much they pushed the envelope. We were risk averse, and rightly so, and wanted a partner that got this.
I appreciate that was 10 years ago, but the underlying principles are the same: “what is important to this business at this time and how do we add real value in this respect?” Regulation, customer experience, commercial output, innovation…. probably all of the above, you won’t be surprised to hear.
Having worked for lots of large corporate entities, predominantly in financial services, I can’t emphasise enough just how important this is and how often it is overlooked.
If I am large financial services player in the market for voice capability, for example, I want the following:
1. You REALLY understand the regulatory challenges that operating in this industry brings.
EXAMPLE: FCA, TCF, OFCOM, ICOBs, DPA, current areas of regulatory scrutiny… what thematics are currently taking place and what could they mean for us both?
2. You can evidence the above.
EXAMPLE: TCF dashboards, complaints rates, cancellation rates, satisfaction scores, loss ratios, abandoned calls, PCA 80/20, accreditations, leadership team credibility and expertise. Do you really understand why everything is green on your reports??? Who decided that your green was good!?
3. You appreciate what we worry about and you can help mitigate my concerns.
EXAMPLE: I am a financial services business, I worry about everything… all the time… You are experts, keep my company safe! I have gone external for help because I probably don’t have the internal capacity, expertise or, more likely, the inclination to build this myself.
4. You understand my business, the commercial mechanics about how we make money, who our customers are and why we are better than all of our competitors.
EXAMPLE: Just do your research… If you can’t find it out I don’t mind you asking; that’s better than making stuff up or guessing.
5. Your culture complements mine (shared or similar values and principles).
EXAMPLE: You can’t do 5 without doing 4 well! I don’t mind whether you have 60,000 seats globally or 50 in Hull, I need to get ‘that feeling’. That feeling that you care, value my business and can again do 1-13.
Implanting that feeling into your business’s culture is so important. So, start from the top of the organisation and embed a positive culture into every department of your business.
I will always insist on checking that this is happening by listening to calls. How your frontline staff speak to your consumers is the direct reflection of EVERYTHING you stand and care for as a business. I can tell more about a business in 30 minutes of call listening than in 3 hours with a leadership team. EVERY leadership team should listen to calls regularly.
6. You do basic contact centre stuff brilliantly, recruit well, train well, manage data well, answer the phone when it rings, produce great MI, and so on and so forth.
EXAMPLE: If you’re struggling with this, you’re just struggling and unlikely to get anywhere near these tender processes. Call us!
7. You are going to cherish the fact that you run my account and I am going to feel this.
EXAMPLE: You ring me before I ring you! I don’t need to ring you because you do 1-13 brilliantly anyway!
8. Technology and innovation are one of the fundamentals of your own corporate strategy but you are not getting distracted by the latest ‘fads’.
EXAMPLE: I want to see you being innovative. Contact centre capabilities have moved far beyond inbound and outbound telephony; however… answer the phone when it rings, call me back when you said you would. Don’t bother doing webchat or IM if you can’t do it properly – it will be significantly more detrimental to MY brand than the perception you have created that you are ‘omnichannel’.
9. Tell me your USPs. You should be really proud of these, after all, so shout about them. I am keen to listen!
EXAMPLE: I am actually not that interested that you answer one of my customer calls at 4am asking if unicorns are real. Show me how your people love working on my account and why. What are your strategy and plans for the future? Why should I consider you thought leaders for your industry? How are you going to take me and my company on this journey with you? Who are your competitors and what actually sets you apart?
10. You’re going to treat my customers how they and we expect.
EXAMPLE: Just do the right thing… simples. This does NOT mean the customer is always right, and I appreciate that, by the way. This is a common failure of many. If you have sound practices, processes and principles… stick to them!
11. You know that your people make your business and I can feel and see this.
EXAMPLE: Know full well that this will jump off the page in the MI you will provide me. Attrition rates, compliance fails, commission payments, cancellation rates, and when I visit, which I will do a lot, I will just be able to see, hear and feel it. I want a performance-based culture but not at the expense of the poor people who are integral to achieving it! “Happy people sell.” – Ta, Nev!
12. Your client, supplier (sorry I didn’t mean supplier, I meant partner!) communication model means I never need to ring you (hardly ever!).
EXAMPLE: Be honest and open with me, be transparent. I will really value a true ‘partnership’ as I would hope you would also. If we grow, you grow!
13. Having said all this, you still know I want to make money, right!?
EXAMPLE: www.notacharity.com (not an actual website FYI!)
It doesn’t feel like much of this is rocket science, does it? That’s because I don’t think it is. Do this and I can almost guarantee you will pick up more clients. Don’t roll out your generic tender pitches – it’s so obvious and disappointing as a potential client.
Be genuine, be real, be a ‘good’ business and you’ll do ok.
Matt Litherland is Co-founder and Director of JAM Consultancy Services, who specialise in helping general insurance businesses be better at what they do. This often involves helping companies maximise their voice distribution strategies and capabilities both in the UK and abroad.
Previous to this, he worked for companies such as GE, Santander, HSBC, Assurant Europe, Prudential and, most recently, Gocompare.com. As a result, he has been involved in the contact centre world for more than 15 years.