Entrepreneurs and executives are scrambling to recession-proof their businesses this year amid a looming economic downturn and a still-tight labor market. Among many other strategies, they want to reduce costs with Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).
BPOs are not a new phenomenon. Companies have outsourced non-core functions like accounting, legal, HR, and customer service for decades. Each BPO vertical is itself a multibillion-dollar, international industry.
But recessions typically see firms that already use BPOs double down on the practice, as firms that haven’t yet taken the plunge to begin experimenting with it. As the business community prepares for a likely downturn later this year or next, we’re already seeing a surge of interest in customer service outsourcing in particular — part of a broader scramble to keep increasingly sophisticated, price-and-quality-sensitive customers happy. Because of this, call center BPOs are in very high demand right now.
Not all third-party call centers are the same, though. They best utilize rigorous quality assurance (QA) practices and tools to improve agent performance and boost customer satisfaction scores (CSATs). Though they’re scattered worldwide — from the Philippines to the San Joaquin Valley — many members of this “call center elite” have one thing in common: they and their clients use MaestroQA’s powerful call center QA software to measure and shape their outputs.
Call Center QA Matters
Businesses use call center BPOs in large part to improve or expand existing customer support activities to focus on customer retention. For resource-strapped enterprises, having an external customer support partner is generally better than attempting to serve customers with in-house resources. Call center BPOs:
- Have economies of scale that generally produce significant cost savings vs. internal solutions
- Allow brands to expand customer support into new time zones with less internal friction, for example, by requiring employees to work overnight.
- Enable rapid scaling during peak seasons, ahead of new product launches, and in response to demand spikes in general
- Provide access to talented staff despite tight onshore labor markets
- Provide multilingual support beyond the English/Spanish binary
But they’re not perfect. Call center BPO clients regularly encounter issues like:
- Cultural barriers between call center staff and internal CX teams
- Lack of buy-in or “team mentality.”
- Steep agent learning curve due to complicated or inadequate training materials
- Poor QA protocols that result in unacceptably low agent performance
- Lack of visibility in performance metrics
MaestroQA helps companies that use call center BPOs — and many third-party call center providers themselves — address all these issues and more through rigorous QA protocols, focused CX insights, and targeted workflow automation. All are working toward a unified goal: measurably improving customer service outcomes and boosting all-important customer retention rates.
Simple Changes Strengthen In-House CX Teams
We discuss two “external” MaestroQA success stories below. But first, we acknowledge that not all businesses need third-party customer support providers. Some have the resources to stand up and build out in-house CX teams.
However, these teams run into the same issues as external CX partners. These issues may become apparent more quickly and present with more urgency if these internal teams’ leaders lack experience with CX best practices and troubleshooting.
This means that responsive QA is equally important for internal customer support, if not more so.
ClassPass, an online fitness provider with tens of thousands of workout videos in its subscription library, learned this firsthand thanks to MaestroQA.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, surging demand for at-home workouts stretched ClassPass’ lean CX team to the breaking point. CX Enablement Lead, Sydney McDowell, examined the company’s existing customer service QA protocols and identified a host of problems. From an overly subjective grading rubric to a shockingly low ticket-tagging accuracy rate to a time-consuming cancellation process that wastes thousands of hours of agent time each year.
Expansion and Modernization
As CX issues mushroomed and customer satisfaction slumped, these issues posed a potentially existential threat to ClassPass at the worst possible time. So McDowell turned to MaestroQA to expand ticket auditing, modernize its QA grading rubric, and automate its cancellation process.
The results were impressive. Email ticket-tagging accuracy jumped from 58% to 88%, chat ticket-tagging accuracy increased by 20%, customer retention rose to 83%, and cancellation-related chat time dropped from an astonishing 6,250 days in 2019 to 0 days in 2022 thanks to a fully automated process.
Not only this, but McDowell was later able to adopt MaestroQA in her position with Handy to centrally track and measure the performance of their outsourced call centers. Through their partnership, Handy benefited from MaestroQA’s reporting platform, gaining valuable insights into BPO performance. This garners reliable quality assurance metrics.
Streamlining CX Grading and Auditing Processes
ClassPass isn’t the only rapidly growing subscription-based company that has leveraged MaestroQA to refine its customer service architecture and boost customer retention.
WatchGang, which curates high-end watches and accessories for a discerning member base, used MaestroQA to standardize and customize its customer support agent scorecards. MaestroQA’s flexible scoring options allowed WatchGang to tailor its scorecards in a way that made sense for its agents. Its easy-to-understand rubrics enabled faster, “stickier” feedback that agents could easily digest. And its automated grading assignments fed tickets to graders based on their personal strengths. This was to reduce friction and increase accuracy during the grading process.
Meanwhile, project management software provider Monday.com turned to MaestroQA to make its already well-functioning customer support department even more efficient and responsive.
Monday.com was renowned in the project management space for its 10-minute average ticket response time — part of a best-in-class service level agreement (SLA) — but bogged down by long “average handle time” (AHT) on open tickets. In other words, its agents were spending too long on the phone or chatting with customers.
MaestroQA streamlined and sped up Monday.com’s ticket grading process, allowing it to complete 48% more audits without allocating additional resources to the process. This generated insights that previously went unnoticed. This allowed Monday.com’s CX team to iterate its way to a 30% AHT reduction (from more than 24 minutes to about 16 minutes).
The end result was that Monday.com was able to stick to its 10-minute SLA without compromising interaction quality or outcomes once it did make contact with customers. That, in turn, helped it keep its competitive edge as the project management industry’s rapid pandemic-fueled growth cooled and larger competitors circled.
Great CX Is No Longer Optional
The past few years have shown us that companies are only as good as their customer support infrastructure. If your CX team isn’t there when your customers need it most, customer retention will suffer. Then they’ll simply go somewhere else.
The importance of customers is true in the best of times — and even more so during economic downturns. As we look ahead to a possible recession in late 2023 or 2024, best-in-class CX will be more important than ever.
MaestroQA is gearing up to support its clients through the coming tough times. What’s your brand doing to prepare?
Featured Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Pexels; Thank you!