A Global Perspective

Customer Service
Customer Service
The State of Customer Service in Asia Pacific

In today's global marketplace customer experience management practices within the contact center, combined with an enterprisewide, customer-minded approach to business, has become critical to many successful organizations. Using actionable intelligence gleaned from the voice of the customer is driving development, sales, marketing, and management strategies around the globe.

My whirlwind 15-city tour across the Asia Pacific region earlier this year offered proof of this trend, as well as some truly interesting insight into the opportunities and challenges from customer-centric organizations across the area.

Chinese focus on voice of the customer
By some estimates, there are 6,000 contact centers up and running in China. Due to the fast growth of the banking, telecommunications, and manufacturing industries in the country, the individual centers are rather large. But Chinese contact centers are also only now starting to capitalize on the benefits of agent training through e-learning, as well as listening in to the voice of the customer within the contact center to drive actionable customer intelligence to sales, marketing, and other relevant business groups throughout the enterprise.

New Zealand's contact centers get analytical
Many contact centers in New Zealand are relatively small and government-services focused. Although these centers face little to no competition, failure to deliver quality service can have dramatic results in governmental change, and can spell the difference between incumbency and retirement.

So, how can public services call centers balance the universal need between availability and optimal customer service with the needs of the agents? The answer comes in the form of a full-featured, analytics-driven workforce optimization (WFO) solution, which ties forecasting and scheduling with quality management on the workforce management side and the analysis of data gathered through tools such as customer and performance feedback on the analytics end.

Malaysia's agents are skilled and educated
In Malaysia contact centers find themselves competing with operations in India and the Philippines. Its value proposition lies in the value-add provided by a well-educated workforce. Malaysia prides itself as having among the highest educated workforce in the region. As more powerful self-service applications replace routine, basic transactions, the skill and knowledge of the agents becomes a key success factor. Malaysia and its contact center industry is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets in the global business community.

India embraces WFO
The contact centers in India-and especially the outsourced centers-are dealing with the same complex problems that contact centers in more mature markets, such as in the U.S. and the U.K., experience.

Agent salaries have increased in India and real estate has gone through the roof, so cost savings often aren't the reason U.S. and U.K.-based organizations are using outsourcing companies in India to handle their contact center work. It also has to do with the educated and mature workforce there.

One way Indian outsourcing companies are providing more value to their clients is by engaging in business process outsourcing, moving beyond telephone calls and email. Back-office outsourcing is growing much faster than call processing. Indian outsourcers are keenly interested in applying the same tools and processes used in the contact center to the operational problems found in the back office. Moving WFO into the back office is a key element of a business process outsourcing strategy.

The inner workings of customer-centric enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region can provide valuable insight for executives in the U.S. focused on the customer experience, as the global business community shares knowledge on what can make and break customer service, loyalty, and an organization's overall brand.

Bill Durr is the principal global solutions consultant at Verint Witness Actionable Solutions.