William Foo, CFO of Everise shares why CFOs should consider outsourcing CX as a growth strategy.
By: Qinthara Fasya | 13 July 2021
According to IDC, 80 percent of enterprise revenue growth would be based on digital products and operations by the end of 2022. This will necessitate a significant investment, but CFOs must enhance the bottom line. As businesses shift to the cloud, cloud contact center software allows for seamless interactions to be handled from numerous, more cost-effective locations — Everise estimates that corporations can save up to 65 percent on in-house staff in some circumstances.
Next-generation outsourcers are assisting businesses in lowering or optimizing their expenses through seasonal hiring, where employees are paid just for the period they are on the job or based on success or productivity measures. This aids CFOs in risk management. DigitalCFO Asia spoke with William Foo, Chief Financial Officer of Everise on CX strategies, credit card fraud, and evolving more to flexible, local models, manned with teams that are native speakers.
How has CX evolved in recent years?
The customer experience (CX) industry has significantly transformed over the past decade, adopting advanced technology to Cloud Contact Centre as a Service technology (CCCaaS), and enabling services such as omnichannel customer relationship management (CRM) software, natural language interactive voice response systems (IVR), and chatbots.
The pandemic catalyzed the need for digital customer experiences, resulting in brands applying widespread use of digital channels, such as smartphones, consumer-friendly apps, and social media. Today’s consumers expect content to be ubiquitous, seamless, and personally relevant, such that whenever they seek out a brand, they are known regardless of the platform they choose to engage with the brand or retrieve brand information.
Enterprises need to provide an intelligent and efficient digital experience as a critical differentiator to keep customers engaged, attract new ones, and streamline back-office operations.
How does CX drive digital transformation for companies that are transitioning to digitalisation?
Digital transformation is something that everyone is talking about, but few are truly taking action. Improving customer experience can catalyze organizations to take action to digitally transform. Given that we have economies of scale, Everise can actively drive such innovation and digital transformation for our customers, reinventing the way they deliver and improve customer experiences.
In Southeast Asia, 1 in 3 consumers are new to digital services, and 90% of these consumers intend to continue their newfound habits post-pandemic, according to Bain & Company.
We offer our customers an exage® CX technology ecosystem that delivers omnichannel, multilingual customer experiences to millions of customers. Our CX also provides full proficiency multilingual support through strategic placement of experience centers across three continents.
Some examples of innovation include breakthrough artificial intelligence technology to power CX evolution for our customers across the world. We built an intelligent voice solution that enables clients to automate inbound and outbound call processes with a voice-based virtual assistant. This voice automation technology cuts through long IVR workflows, and with call volumes spiking at various times of the day, an IVR solution helps manage call volumes in a human way.
Our chatbot, together with IVR, significantly reduces pressure on existing teams and fluidly scales to meet spikes in demand. Additionally, with chat logs available for live agents to access, the solution increases response time, enabling first contact resolution and reducing cost-to-serve for the client.
When clients are committed to leveraging intelligent technologies to improve the customer experience, results are inevitable. As investing in such technologies can be costly, brands can and should partner with outsourcers who can provide such one-stop solutions and customize the solutions to suit their particular support needs.
What are the benefits of a positive customer or product experience?
A positive customer or product experience critically builds loyalty and trust. Moreover, research by PwC shows that customers are willing to pay up to a 16% price premium on products and services with great experiences, and one in three consumers will walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience.
CX also can directly impact the experience of a potential customer. Positive customer reviews make potential customers feel more confident in buying your product or service. However, the open nature of digital and social media platforms makes them the ultimate double-edged sword as customer support channels. It’s a very efficient way to show off a brand’s responsiveness and gain highly visible, vocal brand promoters in the process. But it holds the risk of exposing a business’s lack of responsiveness and gaining highly visible, vocal brand detractors in the process.
Our CX teams help boost customer satisfaction, by moderating digital channels, facilitating better reviews, and producing brand advocates in the process.
In times of uncertainty, why should CFOs consider outsourcing CX as a growth strategy?
There is historical evidence that companies that invest in delivering quality customer experiences emerge stronger after a crisis. McKinsey found that during the 2007-2009 recession, companies that led with superior customer experience provided shareholder returns that were three times higher than laggards. They also found that the top reasons for stalled transformation initiatives were due to resourcing issues and lack of core competencies. Outsourcing enables entities to benefit from:
- Lower operations costs. In-house customer support is often provided from the expensive cities where company offices and executives are located. However, if an outsourcer has a cloud-based technology stack, they could operate where real estate and labour costs are lower.
- Cost-efficient and proven technology. Investing in customer experience technology is expensive, especially if that technology must be secure enough to safely manage sensitive customer information. An outsourcing partner invests in the best technology and spreads the cost out among many clients, enabling cost efficiency.
- Seasonal demand support. If a company’s support needs are higher during some seasons than others, they may have to spend part of the year paying for manpower they do not need during low demand seasons or not having enough experienced staff in high demand seasons. As an outsourcing partner has a diverse set of clients, they are able to move agents around over the year and retain experienced talent.
- Flexible cost structures. In-house customer support results in fixed costs, even when demand is low. Outsourcing partners can offer flexible cost structures that only require payment for work done, allowing companies to save money.
How do next-generation outsourcers assist CFOs in risk management?
It’s our agility and ability to innovate that helps CFOs mitigate the risks of an unpredictable market. We help them optimize their services for performance and cost, and to adapt to their needs. Digital innovation is a critical component to enabling this.
We also believe that to mitigate risk, you need a geographically distributed workforce that is digitally enabled. We call this strategy “flexshoring” because it provides the flexibility of blended work-at-home and centralized office teams on a global scale. By combining multi-shore (a mix of onshore, nearshore and offshore) customer service teams, we give our customers the advantages of reputable outsourcing regions without the risks of over-relying on any one of them. This approach helps mitigate any potential fallout from geopolitical upheavals, natural disasters, or other unforeseen market risks.
For example, we recently supported a client who was digitally transforming their CX just before the pandemic hit. Our solution included “right-shoring” their support resources around the U.S. and Guatemala while deploying cloud contact software, as well as voice and chat automation. Because of their foresight, they were able to continue supporting their customers without any downtime, thereby effectively managing risk.
What is particularly unique about this was the amount of attention we paid to synthesize the voice automation to match the older demographic. We were able to contain and automate about 50% of inbound interactions.
This attention to the details of the experience also came through during the pandemic when the team saw increased interactions from customers about offering disabled delivery service – this was shared, and a new service was launched.
How does fraud cause hidden costs in the financial management of businesses?
Scammers are often adept at finding loopholes in policies and procedures that are put in place to enhance customer experience and meet the demands of legitimate consumers. A fraudster can dishonestly interface with their target’s customer support agents to be successful, for example. This often happens when purchases are made with stolen or counterfeit credit card numbers, false warranty claims, or exploitative use of discount codes, and can result in significant losses to the company, along with reputation damage.
Many business leaders do not realize that customer support teams can help to identify and nip fraud (such as reseller warranty fraud, account fraud, and content moderation, but not credit card fraud) in the bud. The key is having an experienced team because intuition plays a vital role in fraud detection and prevention. For example, in one case that involved a leading connected device manufacturer, Everise combined an experienced team with AI tools to create the Fraud Squad. They were tasked to build a data model that reviewed their online store order review process to identify potential fraud risks. The findings resulted in identifying bad actors which resulted in substantial savings and the creation of a knowledge base to use on the frontline for identifying future fraudulent behavior.
Outsourcing companies that succeed at sniffing out fraud often do so because they retain their best agents, who can identify when something is awry and will note certain patterns of behavior occurring. Everise recently made a discovery that blocked the efforts of a single fraud ring, saving the client almost US$10 million in the process.
How and why modern CX strategies are changing – including evolving more to flexible, local models, manned with teams that are native speakers.
In CX, both business models and services are evolving. Some ways in which we are helping customers to transform their CX are as follows.
- Omnichannel Integration. Say a customer reaches out to a brand for one product, and again for another product, they not only expect the brand to deliver the same experience across both products, but also to retain their personal information. They do not want to provide the same information time and again for specific product lines, or even according to the channel they chose to communicate with the brand. They expect the brand to know their details and know them with reference to any product they buy, and any channel they choose to reach out to the brand. Companies need to provide omnichannel integration to help customers to enjoy a seamless experience with their brand, while using data analytics for improvement.
- Native speaking multilingual hubs. A seemingly basic but deeply important aspect of customer experience is to provide native multilingual support, particularly in Asia where local consumer behaviours are varied. Speaking the language of your customers creates deeper trust and loyalty that improves their affinity towards your brand. But doing so at scale requires working with partners who have hubs that attract and manage these speakers in a single hub.
- Using technology for customer service excellence. By removing repetitive tasks using technology such as AI-powered conversational chatbots and robotic process automation tools, companies can not only better manage call volumes, but enables CX staff to focus on being empathetic and resolve highly complex problems.
- Innovative partnership model: Increasingly, our clients are seeking to streamline their vendors and have true partnerships with a handful of competent partners who can deliver a consistent holistic suite of services, while continuing to remain agile and innovative. This, along with increased technology capabilities is also moving the industry towards more outcome-based costing models.
Can you share how Everise has automated their financial processes such as financial planning analysis, budgeting and forecasting?
In order to standardize our financial processes globally, Everise partnered with Oracle Netsuite, a leading cloud-based ERP which seeks to provide real-time visibility for global operations. This partnership has enabled the Finance department to present insights for planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes that drive insight-led growth, which in turn, aid Everise management and the operations team to make more informed business decisions.
Everise also utilizes business intelligence dashboards to stream and view all real-time operational, human resource and financial data into a single view. Doing so helps the company make quick data-driven growth decisions that benefit the company, our partners and our people.
About William Foo
William Foo is the Chief Financial Officer for Everise, with more than 17 years of experience in senior management and finance roles within large multinational conglomerates. He is also a Chartered Accountant of Singapore. His responsibilities encompass the group’s financial, contractual and risk management matters which also covers Everise entities in the USA, Philippines, Guatemala and Malaysia. William also leads the mergers and acquisitions function of the group.Most recently, he led the sale of Everise to Brookfield Business Partners and its institutional partners (Brookfield). See his full bio here.