iQor, in partnership with Retail Customer, sponsored an on-demand webinar titled “Mastering Retail: Optimize Your Customer Experience Year-Round.” The free virtual event explores effective strategies to elevate the customer experience in retail. Our panel of industry experts includes Tone Holmen, senior vice president of operations at iQor; John Swain, vice president of account management, retail at iQor; and Brian Madonna, vice president of operations at Universal Screen Arts, Inc. Visit iQor’s webinar webpage to view the webinar on-demand and glean valuable insights.

The Value of Partnering With a BPO With Decades of Retail CX Experience

Creating outstanding customer experiences is a necessity for retailers of all sizes—from global giants to boutique brands. The competitive retail and eTail landscape demands exceptional service and a strategy that adapts and thrives throughout the seasons. 

Partnering with a trusted business process outsourcing (BPO) customer experience (CX) company like iQor—for everything from inbound voice support to back office support and social media monitoring—can offer a world of opportunities for retailers to improve their service delivery and elevate customer satisfaction.  Drawing on decades of accumulated process knowledge, iQor partners with retailers to provide specialized expertise, thought leadership, and innovative digital and human capabilities to craft amazing customer experiences year-round. From the intricacies of recruiting and hiring a customer service team to the nuances of training and development, operational excellence is key to providing a rewarding customer experience. We train agents in upselling and cross-selling to meet revenue targets for retailers, and we cross-train frontline agents so they can be moved quickly to support a client’s needs when peak demands require immediate staffing increases.

At the core of iQor’s approach to retail customer service is a comprehensive suite of full-service and self-service scalable offerings. These are meticulously designed to deliver enterprise-quality CX driven by digital and human capabilities that ensure every interaction results in customer smiles. Work-in-office and work-at-home teams, spread across domestic, nearshore, and offshore locations, are adept at meeting diverse client needs. This global reach, coupled with iQor’s seven core values, drives rewarding omnichannel customer experiences. 

By helping retail, eTail, e-commerce, and catalog brands seamlessly connect with customers in their channel of choice, a strategic BPO ensures that every interaction is personalized and effective. This strategic partnership offers custom CX solutions, the agility to adapt to changing needs, and thought leadership that drives client success. 

An innovative feature of iQor’s service is the Symphony [AI]TM ecosystem that empowers agent performance across the entire employee lifecycle. By combining advanced machine learning models with years of accumulated process knowledge, iQor optimizes the employee experience to provide clients with cost-effective solutions that contribute to greater employee satisfaction and exceptional customer service. 

In this blog post, we cover the advantages of outsourcing retail and eTail CX to ensure irresistible customer experiences year-round. We also highlight traits to consider when selecting a BPO well-suited to help you achieve your brand goals.

5 Benefits of Outsourcing Retail Customer Support

Outsourcing customer support offers myriad benefits for retailers. Here are our top five.

1. Cost-Effective Solutions: Outsourcing customer support is often more cost-effective than maintaining an in-house customer support team, as it eliminates the need for recruiting, hiring, onboarding, training, nesting, coaching, supervision, project management, workforce management, process improvement, and change management, not to mention the infrastructure costs associated with a customer support function. 

2. Data Security: iQor’s investment in and commitment to a dynamic zero-trust approach to data security provides our retail clients peace of mind knowing their data and systems are protected from the latest threats. 

3. Quality Assurance: Outsourcing customer support offers specialized expertise to promote service quality through training, career development, and highly effective processes. At iQor, we optimize the employee lifecycle for performance excellence through our Symphony [AI] ecosystem that leverages our accumulated process knowledge to create happy employees who perform consistently at high levels of quality. 

4. Seasonal Staffing: An experienced BPO offers retailers reliability when it comes to rapid ramps and ensuring frontline agents are prepared to succeed from the start. Effective recruiting, onboarding, and training processes support ramping up seasonal staff to meet the heaviest demands associated with holidays, special events, new product launches, and more—even on short notice. At iQor, we cross-train agents so they can apply their CX skills to benefit different retailers by moving flexibly between programs based on staffing needs. This ensures responsive CX during unpredictable peaks and prevents the need to hire excess agents who would either be left with nothing to do or go unpaid when staffing levels are sufficient, leading to low morale and high turnover. 

5. Specialized Training: Lastly, BPOs work with retailers to develop ongoing and customized training and coaching for customer service teams. This training expertise can often exceed the in-house capabilities of retail clients. At iQor, our award-winning training reflects active learning strategies to engage and prepare frontline agents for success in work-at-home and work-in-office settings. 

5 Traits of a BPO That Will Make a Great Partner

Every retailer wants to deliver consistently excellent customer service that addresses their customers’ unique needs cost-effectively. Here are a few characteristics to look for when selecting a BPO partner to help you turn your vision into value.

1. Partner Mindset: Partnering with a BPO you can trust and collaborate with is key. Selecting a BPO with a partner mindset means seeking one that listens to your needs and goals, offers proactive solutions, and delivers consistently. For example, at iQor, it’s common for us to learn about our clients’ businesses in such detail they contact us with questions they can’t answer internally themselves. We are often referred to as the most strategic BPO relationship in their portfolio, offering thought leadership and innovative solutions responsive to their needs, even when compared to Gartner Magic Quadrant leaders. 

2. Brand-Centric Culture: A true outsourcing partner represents your brand with the same passion and enthusiasm as your internal team. Looking for a BPO with a culture of brand-centricity ensures the frontline agents embrace your brand wholeheartedly and are trained to serve as brand ambassadors for a seamless and authentic experience. 

3. Open Communication: A true partnership approach fosters open communication from the C-suite to frontline agents. It also provides retailers control over the customer experience they envision while offering thought leadership with digital and human capabilities to bring the retailer’s vision to life. Through open discussions on weekly calls with retail clients, iQor teams foster honest, direct, respectful, and effective communication to keep all program aspects on track.

4. Agility: The ideal BPO partner can pivot on a dime and respond to situations that might require workforce management shifts, staffing, or a move to another channel for service delivery such as chat, SMS, social media, etc. A partner that maintains focus on your business goals with a willingness to adapt quickly to fluid situations is one you want on your side.

5. Ongoing Training: A successful outsourcing relationship involves a partner committed to investing in their workforce through ongoing training and coaching. Through interactive training such as that provided through iQor’s active learning classrooms, frontline agents can engage meaningfully with material to quickly reach proficiency and deliver consistently excellent service. 

A true BPO partner is always listening. A relationship based on trust forms the foundation of a successful outsourced customer experience that delivers on KPIs and improves the bottom line. At iQor, our goal is to consistently meet or exceed our retail clients’ KPIs, creating smiles for our clients and for the customers we serve on the frontlines. We use digital technology where it matters most to engage retail customers in their channel of choice.

How to Prepare for a Successful Partnership With a BPO

We stand by our retail partners every step of the way to guide them through the outsourcing process. Our executive and operations teams are accessible, and our inter-departmental industry-savvy New Program Implementation Team makes for a smooth transition to outsourcing. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a successful and long-lasting BPO partnership.

Define Objectives: Clearly outline and communicate the specific objectives and goals you want to achieve by partnering with a BPO. Whether it’s improving customer support, reducing costs, or expanding operations, having well-defined objectives is crucial.

Assess Current Processes: Evaluate your existing internal processes to identify the areas that you can outsource. Determine which processes are well-defined and those that need to be updated and improved.

Budget and Cost Analysis: Prepare a comprehensive budget and cost analysis of your current CX delivery systems. Plan to discuss the financial implications of outsourcing, considering both short-term and long-term costs and savings.

Risk Assessment: Assess your current potential for internal risks associated with CX delivery, such as data security, compliance, and quality control. Prepare to discuss how a zero-trust approach to data security, such as iQor’s, addresses threat risks.

Identify Key Metrics: Define key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics that align with your business objectives to measure the success of the partnership.

Cultural Fit: Prepare to discuss the BPO’s approach to align with your company’s culture and values. A shared understanding of your brand’s identity will lead to a successful partnership.

Compliance and Legal Considerations: Plan to review legal and compliance requirements associated with outsourcing in your industry and/or location to ensure iQor’s compliance with these regulations.

Requests for Proposals (RFPs): Create a detailed Request for Proposals to solicit bids from potential BPO partners. Include your requirements, expectations, and evaluation criteria in the RFP. Prepare to meet with iQor to review a custom response to your RFP.

Due Diligence: Conduct thorough due diligence on potential BPO providers you’re considering. Consider their track record in retail, their experience, client references, and financial stability. Arrange to visit their facilities to meet the leaders in the trenches along with the people on the frontlines of service delivery.

Contract Negotiation: Prepare to engage in contract negotiations to ensure that the contract outlines roles, responsibilities, service levels, and dispute resolution mechanisms to your satisfaction. 

Transition Plan: Collaborate on a comprehensive transition plan that outlines how the transfer of processes and responsibilities will occur. This should include a timeline, training, and communication strategies. 

Change Management: Coach your internal teams on the changes outsourcing may bring. Provide training and support to employees who will work with your BPO partner. 

Communication Strategy: Establish effective communication channels and points of contact with the BPO. Ensure open and transparent communication to address any issues promptly. 

Performance Monitoring: Collaborate on a system for monitoring the BPO’s performance on agreed-upon KPIs. Regularly review and discuss performance and make adjustments as needed. 

By thoroughly addressing these internal and strategic considerations, retailers can lay the foundation for a successful partnership with a BPO. This preparation ensures alignment with your business objectives, efficient operations, and the results you seek in a CX outsourcing partnership

Experience the iQor Difference

iQor is an award-winning managed services provider of digitally enabled business process outsourcing (BPO) solutions trusted by global brands. We understand the unique opportunities available to retailers and are ideally suited to help brands create exceptional customer experiences throughout the ebbs and flows of each season. iQor offers a comprehensive suite of BPO full-service and self-service scalable offerings that are purpose-built to deliver enterprise-quality CX. We provide strategic thought leadership, competitive pricing, performance excellence, attractive geos, and talented teams to meet demand and deliver differentiated customer experiences at the best value in the industry.

Our award-winning CX services include:

  • A global presence with 40+ contact centers across 10 countries.  
  • A CX private cloud that maximizes performance and scales rapidly across multiple geographies on short notice.  
  • A partnership approach where we deploy agents and C-level executives to help maximize your ROI.  
  • The perfect blend of intelligent automation for scale and performance coupled with an irresistible culture comprising people who love to delight your customers.  
  • Virtual and hybrid customer support options to connect with customers seamlessly, when and where they want.  
  • The ability to launch a customer support program quickly, even when you need thousands of agents ready to support your customers.  
  • A best-in-class workforce management team and supporting technology to create a centralized organization that can better serve your entire business.

iQor helps brands deliver the world’s most sought-after customer experiences. Interested in learning more about the iQor difference? If you’re ready to start a conversation with a customer experience expert, contact us to learn how we can help you create more smiles. 

John Swain is vice president of account management, retail at iQor. Connect with John on LinkedIn. 

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