… for Retail and Hospitality Companies. By Michael D. Mills, SVP, Call Center Solutions, CGS
Consumers today crave a seamless and interactive experience across all touchpoints, whether shopping at a retail location or checking in at a hotel. This real-time demand has driven unique advancements in next-generation technology to enable the personalized, interactive and tailored experiences that consumers expect. One example of this is mobility implementations with retailers that include mobile point-of-sale (POS) devices for faster check out on the store floor or beacon technologies for on the spot discount offers and incentives. The same technology interactions hold true in the hospitality industry that include such items as mobile check-ins, “smart” room keys and digital kiosks that enable front desk associates to improve customer service, while also boosting brand experience.
Consumer-based industries such as retail and hospitality are experiencing fast-paced, continuously evolving technology advancements in the areas of customer experience and brand loyalty. Whether it’s adapting to evolving customer experience enhancements such as the latest mobile POS system or new self-service applications – retailers or hospitality providers are never done with technology implementations and ongoing support to achieve consumer expectations and differentiate themselves from competitors.
According to a 2016 survey from Gartner, 30 percent of retailers plan to increase their IT budgets by more than 5 percent year over year. And a majority of these investments will focus on implementations that enhance customer experience. But, in spite of the investments made in new databases, technology, infrastructure and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, many retailers and those in the hospitality industry may have the proper technology in place, yet the proper operational support is lacking. While innovative technology may be deployed effectively, the onsite IT staff may not always have the knowledge or skill sets to effectively resolve issues when they arise, creating a scenario in which there is IT down time, which will impact revenue. This raises a question about how efficiently the businesses are selecting, deploying and supporting their technology implementations. With the ongoing challenges that the retail and hospitality industries face to support the emerging technologies that enhance customer experience, it is imperative that a responsive and effective support infrastructure is in place. In this area, outsourcing has become a valid alternative to many retail and hospitality companies.
The core success of hospitality and retail industries is providing a meaningful and personalized customer experience. But, these companies that also must deal with software/hardware updates and service changes, coupled with seasonal scalability and consolidation requirements, rebrand standardization and POS refreshes, there is an inherent need to balance these requirements without losing sight of their business mission. As such, many retail and hospitality businesses are looking to outsourcing business processes and technical help desk services for support. One benefit of outsourcing is a 24x7x365 help desk technical support model. By outsourcing first level technical support, organizations can focus their resources on core strategic initiatives while ensuring that front line issues with technology or device malfunctions are remedied in a timely manner by skilled service agents. This can be done via a single-number, multi-language 800 number or other channels, including email or instant message. It’s critical that associates can reach help desk support in a timely and efficient manner without leaving guests waiting.
Outsourcing partners that offer technical support can also ensure that inquiries from associates are handled at specific service levels. For example, at level one, front-line agents will log the incident and manage the associate through resolution or escalate the issue to higher support levels, if needed. Then, at level two, agents can resolve escalated issues that are more in-depth and require extra analysis or support. On top of this, outsourcing partners can offer in-depth performance management by setting key performance indicators (KPIs) of success for help desk agents, such as call-length or time to resolution. They can also offer technical help to retail, restaurant and hotel chains when troubleshooting specific devices, POS systems, hardware and software, and store-level implementations, as well as provide soft skills with agents who are knowledgeable about the particular industry and technology. As the relationship develops with the outsourcing partner, self-help materials can be developed for frequently asked questions or common issues to further expedite technical and help desk support.
Because hospitality and retail businesses have seasonality spikes in call volumes, the ability to scale up and down makes outsourcing all the more beneficial. Outsourcing partners will be able to work with the business to scale the amount of agents needed during peak season, such as Christmas for shopping or summertime for travel, but also offer the ability to reduce support during quieter seasons. This enables businesses to have the resources they need, when they need it, without having to recruit, train and deploy seasonal workers – which can be a hefty financial undertaking – or underutilize full-time employees in off-season. The same scalability and consolidation remains true for multilingual needs for global brands. As retailers or hotels expand to locations worldwide, an outsourcing partner can also offer the technical support needed for associates, no matter their global location or preferred language.
There is incredible potential for retail and hospitality to leverage next-generation technology as a means to differentiate themselves from their direct competition and deliver the seamless, personalized and interactive experience customers demand. While many businesses today have implemented new technologies to accomplish these goals, they are still struggling to fully harness their capabilities with the technical support infrastructure needed for success. Outsourcing business processes and technical help desk services offer expanded technical expertise via trained agents, around-the-clock, global and multilingual support, while ensuring the scalability or consolidation needed as the demand changes now and in the future.
About the author: Michael Mills is Senior Vice President of Global Contact Center Sales and Solutions. In this role, he leads the global sales and solutions team in the fostering and development of client relationships, the development and implementation of sales strategies, the design and implementation of global and domestic contact center solutions, and the growth of revenue and profitability in the BPO and contact center outsourcing division. Prior to joining CGS, he had very successful tenures at both the IBM Corporation (14 years) and at Northrop Grumman (10 years); where he held executive level sales management, technical solution design and development, and project/transition management delivery roles. Mr. Mills brings a very unique and diverse perspective in his approach to sales strategies by integrating his project transition and management expertise into developing every deliverable client solution.
He is a 1985 graduate from the University of South Florida, and subsequently earned his MS degree in Technical Management from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in 1999. He is also a proud military veteran having served in the United States Air Force as an Imagery Interpretation Specialist for the 544th Imagery Intelligence Wing at Strategic Air Command HQ. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/michael-mills/9/7a0/471
About CGS: For over 30 years, CGS has enabled global enterprises, regional companies and government agencies to drive breakthrough performance through business applications, enterprise learning and outsourcing services. CGS is wholly focused on creating comprehensive solutions that meet clients’ complex, multi-dimensional needs and support clients’ most fundamental business activities. CGS’s Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) group powers clients’ fundamental employee, customer and partner relationships. Headquartered in New York City, CGS employs more than 5,300 professionals across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia. For more information, please visit www.cgsinc.com.