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Changing the Way You Look at Your Customers: 6 Must-Read Books for Customer Service Experience Professionals

Kimberly Meyer

  ᅠ

The easiest way to improve your customer experience is to learn from the mistakes of others. There are many great courses out there but not every manager has time to attend training classes. What about learning on the job? This works well if your business has adopted a culture of accepting failures and learning from them. The most convenient way to gain expertise on how to improve your customer service experience is still to read books – here are our six favorites.

 

 

1. Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit by Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon

 

The close link between a brand’s long-term success and satisfaction with its customer service is something we’ve repeatedly dealt with on our blog, especially in this blog post. Business Insider has revealed that more than 60 percent of customers turn their backs on brands if they have a negative customer service experience. In their not-so-new and yet highly relevant book, Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon address the question of why some brands are significantly more profitable than others. The title of the book says it all: it comes down to the quality of service. Using catchy, cross-industry examples such as Ritz-Carlton, BVLGARI and Carquest, the two authors impressively reveal methods, which every business can adopt to become a customer service experience champion.

 

2. Managing the Customer Experience by Shaun Smith and Joe Wheeler

 

Loyal customers do not grow on trees – they are the result of a well-thought-out strategy and consistent implementation of it. With this thesis, Shaun Smith and Joe Wheeler step up and present an approach that every business should adopt with the goal of achieving customer service experience excellence. The two authors do not hide the fact that it’s not easy to assess every business decision from the customers’ point of view, something that nowadays is commonly expected. This is a pleasantly realistic approach that calls for imitation precisely because of its critical way of looking at things.

 

3. The Effortless Experience by Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman and Rick DeLisi

 

Matthew Dixon and his co-authors develop a thesis on which the customer service industry has been focusing for over a decade. The ‘delight’ approach has reached its limits when new WOW effects cannot sustainably increase customer satisfaction. A new approach could be that brands should primarily focus on minimizing effort for customers before investing in the extra mile. Loyalty is fostered when life is made easier for customers and the customer service experience is easy and seamless. This is an exciting approach and an inspiring read!

 

4. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

 

No other company has dominated reports on customer service excellence in recent years more than the online retailer Zappos. CEO Tony Hsieh and his team have written e-commerce history with their ‘Powered by Service’ approach. Even Amazon was so impressed that it acquired the young company in 2009 for 1.2 billion dollars, without shaking the foundations of the Zappos culture. Stories like a phone call that lasted 10 hours between a Zappos service employee and a customer are just fabulous. Behind all of this lies a deeply impressive service philosophy about which Tony Hsieh provides intimate insights in this book: delivering happiness.

 

5. The Best Service is No Service by Bill Price

 

Part and parcel of the nature of the service industry is that sometimes customer interaction can get a little unceremonious. Bill Price, former VP of Global Customer Service at Amazon, explores the question of whether brands even have a chance of gaining anything with such interaction. Following the motto “the best ever service is one that is not needed at all”, Price creates an approach that helps companies focus on those service interactions where they have a realistic chance of positively influencing customer satisfaction. For all other cases, companies should strive to work on the root causes and eliminate the need for a call or an email, because that is where brands can only lose out.

 

6. The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

 

In times of increasing dominance from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Netflix, we tend to think that technology is the be all and end all. Gary Vaynerchuk reminds us to not lose sight of our customers’ actual needs. Technical innovations have always existed, albeit not at the same rapid pace, as we are currently experiencing. However, these developments have never annulled the fundamental laws of customer focus. Brands that have always focused 100 percent on their customers have remained successful over the long term. This is a refreshing book with food for thought that is not necessarily new, but seems to have been forgotten of late.

 

Kimberly Meyer is Head of Global Marketing & Communication at B2X.

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4 Major Business and Technology Trends that Will Innovate After-Sales Supply Chain Management in 2018

Victor Romero

  ᅠ

For smartphone and consumer electronics brands, a well-planned after-sales supply chain is essential to reduce costs across the entire customer care ecosystem and ensuring customer satisfaction. Innovation is a key part of any state-of-the-art supply chain strategy. Brands need to find new ways to deliver after-sales service faster and better. Gaps in the supply chain and spare parts distribution have a massive negative impact on service quality and customer experience.

 

 

With its same-day delivery service, Amazon has raised the bar. The e-commerce giant even fulfills orders in some cities within a one-hour timeframe. After-sales services cannot fall behind. However, according to our global Smartphone & IoT Consumer Trends study, the average waiting time for a smartphone repair is up to three weeks, whereas customers would like to have their device back within 24 hours. This is also a failure in supply chain management, which is still not operating with efficient processes and the latest tools in many areas. What positive impulses can current trends set? We looked at four areas and provide a forecast for 2018.

 

1. Cloud-based Infrastructure Improves Information Exchange

 

With a strong increase in the amount of complex tasks and the immense volume of data in the after-sales supply chain that comes with it, manufacturers, retailers, suppliers and service providers are relying on flexible cloud-based technology platforms, which can be adapted to new requirements more quickly. According to Gartner, cloud computing has a potentially significant impact on all aspects of IT and on how users access applications, information and business services. Modern after-sales management applications provide convenient and location-independent access to a wealth of information. On the one hand, cost advantages result from lower investment needs, meaning that less capital is tied up. Furthermore, peaks in demand can be easily maintained given the possibilities of cloud computing, especially in the event of strongly fluctuating demand, as is often the case in the after-sales supply chain area.

 

2. Connected After-Sales Supply Chain with Industry 4.0

 

Based on the high-tech strategy of Industry 4.0, what should lead to an optimization of the entire supply chain of a device manufacturer can also be seamlessly transferred to the after-sales area. The goal of Industry 4.0 is to interlink all production and logistics processes based on modern information and communication technology. Through the intelligent and digitally connected systems coming from this technology, as well as direct communication between people, machine, logistics and product, it is possible to have self-organizing supply chains – from development through to production, from use and support right through to recycling. By working with the Internet of Things and big data analysis, digital supply chains should become more agile and adaptable, as well as be geared towards customer requirements. With regard to the after-sales supply chain, Industry 4.0 enables highly flexible serial production and shorter production times, which in turn lead to better spare parts supply and higher service quality.

 

3. Next-Shoring Moves the After-Sales Supply Chain to the Customer

 

In the past, device manufacturers outsourced production to low-wage countries to reduce manufacturing costs. With rising wages in what were low-wage countries and the increasing purchasing power in these countries, there is a movement away from offshoring and re-shoring (a term that describes the relocation back to developed countries) towards next-shoring. Next-shoring describes the necessity of introducing innovations where there is a need. Key elements of a next-shoring strategy include diverse and adaptable production sites, innovation-oriented collaboration with partners, and a new focus on customer experience. It is therefore not hard to imagine that production, which up until now has been carried out in low-wage countries due to financial reasons, will be relocated to where the customer demand really is. This would lead to an improved spare parts supply and a shortening of the after-sales supply chain, since this would now be decentralized in remote regions. For customers, this could mean that the service quality would be significantly improved by having shorter delivery times and more flexibility.

 

4. Solid Master Data Management Lays the Foundation

 

Master data management ensures that a company’s data quality is coherent, accurate, allocable and consistent. The focus is on the long-term data quality and consistency of all information regarding products, customers and suppliers. In many cases, the company’s master data is kept redundant in several databases. This makes data analysis extremely time-consuming. Inaccurate or completely incorrect data costs a lot of money, and an increasing customer care network means there is a greater flood of information. In times of rising customer expectations, after-sales organizations must be in the position to respond quickly to customer demand. In addition to real-time analysis, modern master data solutions connect sales, production and supply chain. It is only when these areas are carefully coordinated with each other that it is possible to respond quickly to customer needs – and by doing so, the quality of service will significantly increase and the customer experience improve.

 

Victor Romero is Supply Chain Manager at B2X.

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It’s Not Rocket Science but Hands-On Work: How After-Sales Data Analytics Build the Foundation for an Excellent Customer Experience

Marek Olszowy

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When it comes to the nuts and bolts of ensuring an excellent customer experience, your use of data must be of paramount importance. That which forms the basis of the business model for large online brands like Amazon or Netflix has always applied to our business: after-sales services. Customer care only works well if service processes are measured and optimized by using data.

 

 

Consumer electronics brands that have a global presence and outsourced a large part of their after-sales functions to repair partners, logistics providers and call centers, have never got by without a solid database – regardless of the fact that we have been recently dealing with this topic using buzzwords such as chief data officer or predictive analytics. Data has always been a fundamental basis for a perfect service experience. However, because top management have long paid little attention to after-sales, we find ourselves in a less than ideal situation.

 

After-Sales Services Are in the Spotlight When It Hurts

 

The growing importance of after-sales services for the overall success of a brand is an exciting development, but it must include a review of this question regarding data. In the mobile industry, classic brands such as Nokia or Siemens have placed great value on excellent customer service although this did not prevent their downfall. On the other hand, today’s market leaders have triumphed with innovative product features, elegant design and powerful brands. But now that the smartphone market is slowing down in the more developed markets, we are seeing a renaissance in after-sales services.

 

In our global study Smartphone and IoT Consumer Trends 2017, it became clear that excellent customer service has substantial impact on overall customer satisfaction. Only those brands offering their customers a seamless customer experience will gain loyal customers. After-sales services are becoming a success factor for mobile and IoT brands, which means they can no longer see it as an optional extra. At the same time, the increasing cost pressure, forces device manufacturers to outsource, since hardly any provider can afford their own comprehensive service network. With outsourcing however, the need arises to ensure that service processes are 100% transparent. It is only then that it is possible to take corrective action – or even better, to detect emerging problems before they become visible to the end-customer.

 

Focus on Topics that Lead to Negative Word-of-Mouth

 

In practice, this means specifically focusing on issues that most upset customers and that lead to negative word-of-mouth. This is particularly the case when customers have to send in their device for repair twice because the fault was not corrected properly first time round or a new fault occurred during the service process – the relevant KPIs are known as bounce rate, re-repair rate or unsuccessful repair rate. In addition, long waiting times are extremely detrimental to levels of satisfaction. According to the results of our study, anything beyond the 24-hour limit does not meet the customer’s expectations nowadays.

 

Most of these negative cases can be avoided by intelligently selecting the KPIs in the first place, followed by a practical handling of the collected data as the second step. After-sales data analytics is not rocket science, and customer care organizations can also do without a Chief Data Officer. Let’s take the example of turn-around time: if you only measure the repair lead-time afterwards i.e. post the repair, the damage has already been done. It would be much more intelligent to choose a KPI such as ‘work in progress’ which provides us the information about the current workload of a repair partner (all open and pending repairs and their status). If we find that the incoming repair orders are stretching the capacity limit, then we still have the possibility of choosing an alternative procedure such as quickly exchanging a device or adding additional manpower on the repair center side to work this backlog out.

 

Thousands of Data Points Provide Real-time Information

 

To do this, we need accurate data at all times. Up until now, there has been the challenge of enormous volumes of data. It is not an unusual approach that even now, in some big OEMs, after-sales service managers download data from various database systems and copy it into Excel spreadsheets to conduct their own analysis – a waste of time and money, producing no good results. The good news is that in cooperation with customer care providers like us, most manufacturers have now established global customer care ecosystems that have thousands of data points providing real-time (or at least almost real-time) service information. This allows us to manage after-sales services in a professional and customer-oriented way.

 

At B2X, we have chosen to adopt an approach that follows the principle of less is more. With our platform for after-sales data analytics (SMARTCARE Analytics), we conduct analyses live on the basis of real-time data – without intermediate steps, without a loss of quality. We have configured our applications to focus exclusively on the pain points. It is about reducing data noise – we want to concentrate on the essentials i.e. those processes and elements where the service experience seems likely to fail.

 

Green KPIs are automatically filtered out and attention is drawn to where it hurts. We are also investing significantly into predictive and prescriptive analysis capabilities, which will help us to anticipate where it might hurt in the near future – “This KPI is green today, but if you do not implement the following measures, it will turn red after three days.” Predictive patterns can tell us that something is going wrong beyond our view e.g. a repair partner will soon not have enough capacity or that the spare parts delivery is delayed. This may seem trivial for an individual case, but in a complex service network with hundreds of partners around the globe, the extent is much greater. As I said earlier, this is not rocket science. However, working with data is not about winning the competition for the most impressive buzzword, it’s about hands-on work which forms the basis for an excellent after-sales experience.

 

Marek Olszowy is Head of Global Service Operations at B2X.

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After-Sales Challenges in Emerging Markets – Strategies to Help Consumer Electronics Brands Achieve Service Excellence

Andrew Humphries

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In our last blog post, my colleague Stefan Gyarfas shared exciting insights into the Vietnamese market. He is absolutely right! Vietnam is indeed one of the most interesting, though one of the most underestimated growth markets in Asia. Consumer electronics brands that want to sell mobile and IoT devices in emerging markets such as Vietnam or India face particularly complex challenges in the after-sales area. This blog post is about what these problems are and how to solve them.

 

 

Service excellence is a noble aim and only a few brands are able to provide a truly unique customer experience. It is especially difficult in countries where the conditions are anything but stable. The basic ingredients for service excellence can be summarized in just a few points. In principle, after-sales operations should be geared to the needs of end-consumers and how they experience service – which is why consumer satisfaction and loyalty rather than internal organizational goals should be the guiding light.

 

Service Excellence Works Like a Never-Ending Journey

 

Customer care organizations need an accurate measurement system in order to continuously monitor the quality of after-sales operations. Standard operating procedures define process standards. These procedures are necessary in order to be able to measure and benchmark processes at all. If the KPI results are transparent and are available to the entire organization, then it is possible to implement optimization measures on the basis of standardized methodologies such as Kaizen or Six Sigma to ensure continuous improvement. You can then measure their progress, which subsequently completes the service excellence cycle.

 

So far the theory – but how can this idea be implemented in emerging markets like India or Vietnam, where transparency and process stability are anything but mainstream? We know from our own experience how complicated it is to have an after-sales setup with much more than 100 service partners – and such a setup is still the norm for many smartphone and consumer electronics brands in emerging markets today. With such a large number of independent repair partners, it is virtually impossible to implement standard operating procedures on a large scale. In addition to a lack of adherence to quality standards, there are regular compliance problems and in the worst case, even fraud.

 

Decreasing Compensation and Rising Demands Overstrain Service Partners

 

At the same time, increasing competitive pressure among manufacturers is leading to a tense margin situation. In turn, this means added pressure on the service network and walk-in repair shops. According to the device manufacturers, fees are set to decrease, while at the same time higher quality and investment in expensive quality control processes are expected. Hardly any of the small mom and pop stores can afford this, so a number of them try to balance the financial pressure through the “creative” reporting of service transactions. In the end, this creates a vicious cycle, which can only be broken by a completely different approach to the whole after-sales setup.

 

From the manufacturers’ point of view, the top priorities are adhering to quality and safety standards, controlling spare parts and replacement devices, as well as ensuring transparency. Large repair centers would be able to meet these requirements in terms of know-how and financial resources. However, their repair sites are generally anything but consumer-centric – and here we are back to the first step towards service excellence: It always starts with understanding and implementing consumer requirements which large repair factories rarely do.

 

Service Excellence as a Compromise Between Standards and Flexibility

 

Consumers expect quick and uncomplicated help. In countries such as India or Vietnam, it is common practice to go to the nearest repair shop. This is convenient, quick, and is often the cheapest option, even for repairs outside the warranty period. But these shops do not have the necessary financial resources, skills and competencies to provide the best possible quality, which, as mentioned above, is one of the fundamental components of service excellence.

 

As B2X, we have steered a middle course by developing an approach, which acts as a layer over an existing service network. This layer provides all the control mechanisms and transparency that manufacturers would want, without sacrificing the flexibility of a dynamic network provided by smaller service shops. This approach has been successful in India for a number of years now, where we operate after-sales services for brands like Apple, Lenovo, Samsung and Xiaomi. We have also been recently using the same concept for Samsung in Vietnam, which has been very successful so far. We would be delighted to support further smartphone, IoT and consumer electronics brands on their way to service excellence in emerging markets – please contact us at any time and don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn!

 

Andrew Humphries is Head of Global Delivery Management at B2X.

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In the Fast Lane: Vietnam Stands Out With Stable Economic Growth and Opens Up New Prospects for Mobile and IoT Brands

Stefan Gyarfas

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The hidden champion Vietnam has developed into Asia’s growth pearl without almost anyone noticing. While the global focus is mainly on China and India, the smaller country of Vietnam enjoys many advantages. For example, the government ensures orderly participation in global economic affairs and invests substantially in infrastructure. The country is politically stable and benefits from a young and tech-savvy population. We shall report from our own firsthand experience about what companies should know about Vietnam and what you should keep in mind when entering the Vietnamese market.

 

 

 

 

Vietnam expects to have improved its position again among the ASEAN States when the World Bank publishes its annual “ease of doing business” index in a short while. Vietnam has occupied a leading position among the group of ten Southeast Asian countries for several years, which is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The World Bank is thereby confirming that it is relatively easy to gain a foothold in Vietnam compared to other Asian growth markets, especially for foreign companies. While countries like the Philippines and Indonesia can also show off attractive growth prospects, Vietnam offers stability – something, which the other countries only can to a lesser extent.

 

On the Way to Becoming an Industrialized Country With 6 Percent GDP Growth

 

This was one of many reasons to intensify our involvement in the Vietnamese market. We have recently formed a joint venture with Digiworld, one of the largest wholesalers for electronic products in Vietnam, meaning we can support global providers of smartphones, wearables and IoT devices when they enter the Vietnamese market. At the same time, we have expanded our global partnership with Samsung and are now operating some of Samsung’s largest Customer Service Plazas, in which Vietnamese Samsung customers receive quick help if they have questions about their smartphone, tablet or other electronic devices, or if they need repairs. By the way, you can view the entire story in our new video. Like no other country in the Asia-Pacific, Vietnam has stood out for many years with a stable economy and GDP growth rates that have ranged from 5.2 percent to 7.1 percent since 2007. This means that Vietnam is growing more than the average in the Asia-Pacific, with growth rates of 5.5 percent predicted for this year. The Vietnamese government is paving the way to become an industrialized country through opening up to global markets and foreign investors. The share of the industrial and service industry is meanwhile more than 60 percent. As a result, Vietnam clearly stands out from its neighboring countries, where agriculture and fishing still dominate economic activity.

 

The Journey From Being Underdog, to Hidden Champion to Growth Pearl

 

Vietnam is still regarded by many as the underdog of Asia. The country appears to be too small in comparison to China or India, though appearances are deceptive. With 96 million inhabitants, Vietnam ranks among the ten largest of the 50 countries in Asia and ranks 15th worldwide. What’s more, the Vietnamese population, with an average age of just 30, is younger than average and is very open to innovation and new technologies. “The small China” or “New India” is likely to emerge as one of the most attractive growth markets in the world, especially for globally active providers of mobile and IoT devices. To date, smartphones have only reached 26.4 percent of the population. The need to catch up is enormous, yet thanks to huge investment in infrastructure and network expansion, the Vietnamese government is creating the conditions for a rapid digitalization of society and the working world. Chinese and Korean providers have particularly recognized this potential and have been expanding in Vietnam for some time now. While Samsung and OPPO clearly dominate the market with shares of 28 percent and 25 percent respectively, Apple comes in at 7 percent. While the demand for Western technologies and brands is higher than ever, Vietnamese consumers are pragmatic and seek to get good value for money. People prefer to buy in a retail shop on-site. Due to climatic conditions, Vietnam is a country with a fast growing footprint of shopping malls. Shopping is an experience and buying behavior is impulsive – it’s all about touching and trying. Once the decision has been made, the device must be ready for use immediately. The selfie culture is very strong in Vietnam and that first selfie with the new purchased smartphone has a very high priority. With the climatic conditions and the sometimes-extreme use of electronic devices, service requirements are high and growing for manufacturers. Repair rates are 30% higher than Western countries. At the same time, consumers expect rapid help if there is a device fault. The repair takes place within an hour at the Samsung Customer Service Plazas, which we operate. As is the case with shopping, the service becomes an experience: During the waiting period, customers can try out the latest device models, or watch the repair process of their device. In the best sense of the word, people are curious in Vietnam, which is what makes the current market so exciting – there is hardly another one like it!

 

Summary: Vietnam is one of the most stable growth markets in Asia, something which has long been undiscovered with China and India in the limelight. Manufacturers of electronic devices that want to enter the Vietnamese market should cooperate closely with Vietnamese specialists in the country. From our own experience, we know that local empowerment from day one promises the greatest chances of success. Provide room for maneuver and freedom of choice for your teams and partners. Then Vietnam could become a success story for you as well!

 

Stefan Gyarfas is Director of Strategic Projects at B2X.

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Global Doesn’t Always Mean Global: Why Only a Few BPO Providers Are Able to Offer After-Sales Outsourcing in Every Country

Rainer Koppitz

  ᅠ

Do complex challenges call for simple solutions? Not always. You will quickly find at least a dozen BPO providers that can provide a global offshore solution if you want to standardize mainstream processes from accounting to sourcing across the globe and want to outsource to a shared service center. However, this is not as easy for after-sales outsourcing, since customer care requirements vary considerably from country to country. Regional competence and a local presence are thus paramount.

 

 

 

 

In my last blog post we looked at the success factors of after-sales outsourcing. In addition to deep customer care expertise, a complete solution that covers all after-sales disciplines and a commitment to joint success, the choice of a BPO partner should be dependent on their global presence. I would like to focus on this aspect once again since it is often neglected in discussions on after-sales BPO. All major BPO vendors position themselves globally, meaning they have a global coverage of 80 percent or more. Outsourcing providers feel they are maintaining their global promise in accordance with the good old 80/20 rule – they are present in at least 80 percent of countries and well, it is acceptable to ignore the other 20 percent.

 

BPO Solutions for Markets Where Global Standards Do Not Work

 

We know from our own experience that most device manufacturers do not face their biggest challenges in established markets like North America, Europe or the well-developed parts of Asia, which all fall in the 80 percent category. The real challenges are to provide excellent customer care in the remaining 20 percent; in markets that promise huge growth on the one hand, but which also have special requirements for after-sales services on the other. A truly global BPO partner should be able to support mobile and IoT brands with a world-class after-sales solution even in markets where global standards do not work.

 

For the IoT and smartphone industries, it is countries like India, Brazil, Russia and Vietnam above all where there will be huge growth in the future. While growth in the smartphone and tablet industry is stagnating or slow in many established markets, emerging markets are experiencing growth rates well into the double-digit range, and in the IoT segment it is even up to several hundred percent annually. Penetration rates for smartphones and other connected devices are still low and the need to catch up is enormous.

 

Emerging Mobile and IoT Markets With New After-Sales Requirements

 

Rapid growth is causing new demands to be placed on customer care. Many customer needs and preferences are emerging as a result of the increasing prevalence and use of smartphones, tablets, wearables, virtual reality headsets and other IoT devices. Service and support concepts that work in established markets are not necessarily suitable everywhere and rarely meet the needs of users in new emerging markets.

 

India is such an example. Having become the fastest growing mobile market in the world with annual growth rates of up to 30 percent, the smartphone is the primary device for accessing the Internet. Mobile Internet, messaging, social media and online shopping: 60 percent of Internet users in India had their first online experience on their smartphone and dependency on it is correspondingly high. Offline service channels such as walk-in service centers are the first port of call when a device does not work. As a global BPO partner, we offer our customers in India, which include Apple, Lenovo, OnePlus, Samsung and Xiaomi, a solution that best meets these local needs. We now operate one of the most advanced customer care solutions in the country with 240 service centers, where we provide personal support and fast repairs.

 

Global After-Sales Platform, But Customer Care Operations Directly Onsite

 

As a global BPO provider for after-sales services, we address specific local requirements, just like in India, through a mix of our global technology platform, a comprehensive service partner network with more than 500 local partners and our own after-sales expert teams on the ground. It is this triad that ensures the efficiency of a global after-sales platform and that works best in markets like India, Brazil, Russia and Vietnam.

 

Speaking of Vietnam, we will report about our activities in the Vietnamese market in our next blog post. Just a few days ago, we announced our new joint venture with Digiworld and our extended partnership with Samsung – take a look at our new video. Together with Digiworld, we offer mobile and IoT brands a comprehensive go-to-market solution including after-sales service. Samsung is one of the first major brands for which we are operating as an after-sales BPO partner with our new solution in Vietnam to provide end-to-end customer care for smartphones, tablets, connected home appliances, TVs and other IoT devices. Send us an email if Vietnam or other emerging markets are on your agenda. We have the solution for you!

 

Rainer Koppitz is CEO of B2X.

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Winning with Customer Care Outsourcing: Four Key Success Factors in After-Sales BPO Projects

Rainer Koppitz

  ᅠ

In my last blog post, we were dealing with the complexity of after-sales business process outsourcing (BPO). Smartphone and IoT brands rely on strong BPO partners to provide an excellent customer care experience across the globe. However, not many providers are in the position to offer a truly complete after-sales solution. Today, we will talk about what you should bear in mind when choosing your BPO partner.

 

 

 

 

1. After-Sales Competence and Operational Experience

 

As one of the few direct interfaces to your customers, after-sales service is a core process for every mobile and IoT brand. When selecting your BPO partner, rely on providers with proven after-sales service experience. With the increasing amount of different types of consumer IoT devices and numerous connected apps and services, the demand for seamless customer care is on the rise. For you as a manufacturer, outsourcing after-sales service to a competent partner is an efficient way of avoiding painful learning processes. Customer care requires special know-how and therefore this advice should be kindly taken to heart: Choose a BPO partner who can prove their competence based on success stories and who has achieved stable growth in after-sales service BPO for many years. This is the only way to avoid long learning curves, which you would want to bypass by outsourcing customer care.

 

2. Global Presence in 100 Countries or Even More

 

After-sales service is a truly global business. There are hardly any smartphone or IoT brands geographically limiting themselves. In addition to world market leaders like Apple and Samsung, emerging Chinese brands have been pushing into global markets for several years now. Even young IoT startups have the opportunity to expand globally shortly after their launch. You should rely on a partner who is able to support your global go-to-market. Your business can quickly expand to more than 100 countries. Select a BPO provider with global presence, and above all, a partner that can also help you in markets in which customer care is complex. Countries such as Brazil, India and Russia face numerous challenges because, for example, importing spare parts requires specialized knowledge or demanding consumer protection laws have special requirements. Rely on a partner for whom this is not new territory.

 

3. After-Sales Service from A to Z

 

Look out for the completeness of your BPO solution when choosing your partner. After-sales service includes many disciplines – from handling the first contact with your customers through online support and call centers, the repair of damaged devices in walk-in service or repair centers, to spare parts supply and the underlying technology platform. From our own experience, we know that the customer care experience breaks when different parties are involved in a process. A partner that offers you a complete, one-stop-shop solution will manage the entire customer care process and give you peace of mind, which is especially relevant when you are an emerging mobile or IoT brand wanting to fully concentrate on your core business.

 

4. Commitment to Mutual Success

 

Rely on a partner who, together with you, achieves your goals and has their skin in the game. In conventional BPO projects for back office functions such as accounting or procurement, providers charge for their services according to their time and effort. Savings you make by outsourcing rather than having your in-house organization backs the business case. According to our own experience, savings in after-sales BPO projects amount to 30 percent or more but simplicity, one-stop-shopping and converting fixed into variable cost are equally strong reasons for outsourcing. In the end, customer satisfaction will tell you whether your project is successful. Specialized after-sales BPO partners link some of their compensation to customer satisfaction or net promoter score and demonstrate their commitment to your mutual success.

 

Summary: With the sheer exploding number of consumer IoT devices in the coming years and numerous new players in the market, excellence in customer care is becoming increasingly important. However, due to the growing complexity it is becoming even more costly. As a result, new and established mobile and IoT brands will not be able to avoid using end-to-end BPO solutions for after-sales services. B2X works with established brands such as Apple, Samsung and Microsoft, but also partners with emerging IoT brands like Zerotech. If you want to know more about how we can support you in after-sales service BPO, please send us an email and follow B2X on LinkedIn!

 

Rainer Koppitz is CEO of B2X.

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After-Sales Service Outsourcing: Why Complete BPO Solutions for Smartphone and IoT Manufacturers Are the Exception So Far

Rainer Koppitz

 

 

The market for business process outsourcing (BPO) services is enormous. However, the gap in the after-sales segment is also significant. Hardly any of the big BPO providers are able to offer a comprehensive solution for manufacturers of smartphones and consumer IoT devices. These, in turn, rely on smart outsourcing services because few can afford their own after-sales organization.

 

 

After-sales service is an essential business process for every manufacturer of connected electronic devices. People who purchase smartphones, wearables, virtual reality headsets, drones and other consumer IoT devices require seamless support throughout the entire life cycle. This includes setup and configuration of a device after purchase, questions about optimal use and quick help if something doesn’t work or needs to be repaired. With the rising number of devices in every household, the desire for a smooth service experience is growing. We’ve mentioned the numbers on our blog before: By 2020, around 6 billion smartphones and another 14 billion consumer IoT devices will be used worldwide. Although manufacturers try to ensure maximum ease of use, our networked world is becoming more complex.

 

Growing After-Sales Service Demand with Rising IoT Prevalence

 

This complexity equally affects after-sales service. For equipment manufacturers, this means that it is becoming increasingly challenging to provide users with an excellent customer care experience. But above all, it is becoming more expensive! Customer care is the flagship of every brand, and after-sales service has the key role of nurturing and maintaining this flagship – around the clock, anywhere in the world. Every service interaction with a customer is a moment of truth, and very few customers give a brand a second chance once they’ve been disappointed: As we stated in our last blog post about customer care in 2027, failure is not an option!

 

But how can a single manufacturer live up to this requirement? Leading mobile brands are represented in more than 100 countries and have annual device sales in the ten- to hundred-million range. Even up-and-coming IoT startups are represented worldwide within just a short period of time. The smartphone and IoT business is a global business, but only few providers can afford an after-sales organization that is able to manage customer care processes globally and monitor KPIs. The tremendous fixed costs for resources, processes and tools would destroy the balance sheet. Economies of scale are not feasible for an individual manufacturer, and many manufacturers consider after-sales service a fifth wheel anyway.

 

Big BPO Providers Are Neglecting the After-Sales Market

 

If a task within a company is not perceived as a core competency, the call for outsourcing quickly follows. We have seen an outsourcing boom in the past two decades. More than $140 billion was spent on BPO services last year alone – and the trend is growing. The list of the largest BPO segments is dominated by back-office functions suitable for outsourcing: finance, HR and procurement. In the customer care area, BPO services are restricted to offshore call centers and the processing of warranty claims. Those, looking for comprehensive BPO services in the after-sales area, search in vain. However, given previously described framework conditions, after-sales service is an outsourcing candidate par excellence.

 

As a BPO provider for after-sales service, we say: Great! Nevertheless, it’s worth taking a look behind the scenes. Why do BPO providers struggle to offer attractive after-sales service outsourcing? For large BPO providers such as Accenture, Capgemini, HCL, IBM or TCS, covering after-sales subareas such as call center services from their central offshore locations is an obvious choice. But as soon as it comes to services such as repair management, which aren’t supplied centrally, their service ends. This creates a gap in the market that is anything but small: According to our own calculations, the market volume for after-sales BPO services for mobile and IoT devices is currently around $50 billion – a gigantic market.

 

Mobile and IoT Brands Require Comprehensive After-Sales Service

 

We have clearly positioned ourselves in this market and are now working with six of the top ten smartphone brands. We entered the IoT market some time ago and offer manufacturers of all sizes a global after-sales solution. Together with our customers, we focus on delivering an excellent customer care experience and taking responsibility for customer satisfaction. We cover the entire after-sales process – from on-device diagnostics to online self-help and call centers to intelligent logistic solutions and device repair inside and outside the warranty. Our projects are complex yet successful – but I’ll discuss the success factors behind after-sales BPO projects in my next blog post in more detail. I look forward to your feedback. Contact us today, and don’t forget to follow B2X on LinkedIn!

 

Rainer Koppitz is CEO of B2X.

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Customer Care 2027 – 3 Forecasts of How Mobile and IoT Innovations will Radically Change Customer Service in the Future

Kimberly Meyer

  ᅠ

10 years of B2X and 10 years full of innovation. In the past decade, the mobile industry has made history at a rapid pace. We reported about the most important milestones from 2007 to 2017 in our last blog post. How will this story progress? Universal connectivity through mobile companions and intelligent IoT devices radically changes the way people get help. Expert support via Augmented Reality and self-healing devices create a completely new experience: Service is always and everywhere present and sometimes we don’t even sense it – three forecasts for customer care in 2027.

 

 

1. Invisible Customer Care through Self-Healing Devices

 

Failure is not an option. With increasing dependency on smartphones and networked IoT devices, total failure should certainly not happen. Fortunately, our mobile companions are getting smarter and will be taking care of themselves by 2027. Today, the requirements for excellent customer care are quite clear. The service should be quick, competent and available at any time, yet still today not all mobile and IoT brands are in fact able to meet this expectation.

 

However, this challenge is relativized when we look at the evolution of user experience. Artificially intelligent assistants like Amazon’s Alexa are the harbingers of a new device generation that intelligently interacts with users. Future device generations have the potential to manage themselves independently and in intelligent interaction with their users. New possibilities arise in customer care with self-diagnosis and self-healing. Gartner speaks of conventional systems and digital mesh, meaning an intelligent network of interconnected devices that monitor and control each other. While we as users today call apps and services by touch, our devices in the future will think that on our behalf. Gartner describes this phenomenon as ambient digital experiences. Everything runs automatically and problems are already solved before we even realize they exist, as if the hand of a ghost controlled it.

 

2. Competent Help Always and Everywhere via Augmented Reality

 

Augmented Reality (AR) brings customer care to a new dimension in the truest sense of the word. Holoportation brings service experts to customers and enables them to provide quick and competent help on-site, albeit in a completely virtual way. If a smartphone needs repaired, customers do without waiting times at the service center. The required spare part including suitable tools will be supplied by means of a drone. A service expert is connected by AR and assists customers personally in the repair procedure – virtual help to self-help.

 

AR is about to enter the mass market. Immersive experiences are going to be a natural part of everyday life. In particular, support requests for device configuration or connecting to other devices can be solved by AR-based support agents via Holoportation – directly with customers on-site, highly personalized and step by step until a solution is found. The universal availability of data, artificial intelligence and better networked IoT devices support the service process and ensure the entire customer experience runs more smoothly than ever before.

 

3. Device and Service Experience Merge Together

 

According to a Study by Business Insider, twelve positive customer experiences are needed to compensate for a single negative experience. However, no customer will give a brand twelve new chances to prove their service strengths. In our global study Smartphone and IoT Consumer Trends 2017, we came to a similar conclusion, namely that customer care is now the most influential factor when it comes to customer satisfaction.

 

The importance of customer care for the entire brand experience will continue to grow. Self-healing devices and ambient customer care experiences will result in customers no longer differentiating between the device-related user experience and the service-related customer care experience. Both experiences will merge together. Excellent service will be perceived as at least as essential as innovative product features. If device manufacturers do not keep their brand promise and if the service does not work smoothly, their brand will be considered broken. If a brand succeeds in delivering an exceptionally good experience, it will become a champion. These are the new rules for customer care 2027.

 

Summary: Customer care innovations ensure that service is perceived less and less consciously by 2027. Self-healing devices, ambient experiences and Augmented Reality will make service available everywhere. Customer care becomes a feature just like any other feature and it simply has towork. Mobile and IoT brands who disappoint their customers will be punished all the harder by their customers’ resentment. Service excellence will be compulsory for everyone else. How do you manage your customer care? Send us an email and follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn!

 

Kimberly Meyer is Head of Global Marketing & Communication at B2X.

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From the iPhone to Google Glass to 14 Billion Connected IoT Devices: Mobile Industry Highlights From the Past 10 Years

Kimberly Meyer

  ᅠ

10 years of B2X! Our first big anniversary gives us ample reasons to take a look at the milestones of the mobile industry. Our industry has been changing at a rapid pace since the launch of the iPhone. With the introduction of Android, Google laid the foundation for connecting all electronic devices. The Internet of Things was born, while many well-known brands disappeared and new ones were added. We have summarized all the highlights for you in the following blog post and in this additional infographic.

 

 

1. Redefining the Smartphone

 

“It works like magic”. Steve Jobs used these famous words to introduce the first iPhone model to the public in 2007. While Jobs’ way of presenting the new device at the MacWorld in San Francisco was considered legendary from the very first moment, some industry insiders did initially doubt that Apple would be able to turn the entire mobile phone market upside down. Back then, smartphones were regarded as a niche product. BlackBerry was a mobile email machine for business users, which was rather uninteresting for consumers. And then came the iPhone – a phone for a mass market, without a keyboard, having its own operating system and equipped with small software applications called Apps. This was hardly imaginable.

 

It was only when Google presented Android a year later, an open operating system for mobile phones that had a similar logic to Apple and its iPhone that the phone manufacturers’ skepticism and smirks turned increasingly into genuine concerns. Would Apple and Google be in a position to set a trend that the established players had thus far missed? The rest is history. Mobile phones, which are not attractive and have limited functions, now called basic or feature phones, no longer have any role to play. Instead, almost everywhere you look, someone has a smartphone using Apple iOS or Google Android.

 

2. Welcome to the All-Mobile World

 

The new mobile standard 4G which was introduced in 2009 has contributed significantly to the rapid spread of smartphones. Bandwidths, which until then were only available for fixed networks, were suddenly available for mobiles as well. Users have benefited from high-speed Internet, video streaming and many new multimedia applications via mobile phones. When 4G was introduced, it became quite clear that basic phones with small screens and no multimedia functionality had reached their expiry date and now have no role to play in the future.

 

While many manufacturers who were sleeping during the smartphone revolution played catch-up, Apple and Google were already one step ahead. With the introduction of the iPad in 2010, Apple linked the strengths of the PC with the advantages of the smartphone. Unaffected by the tablet-mania that followed in the years after, Google launched a new experiment and presented a connected pair of glasses with Google Glass. Even though the first version was a flop, Google inspired many manufacturers to think about mobile networking beyond smartphones and tablets, and soon Google Glass will make a comeback anyway.

 

3. Emerging Markets on the Rise

 

Over time smart mobile devices have become better, but also more expensive. This meant that new innovations were reserved for markets with strong purchasing power. However, mobile brands are increasingly expanding into emerging growth markets such as Brazil, India and Russia. India is at the top of the table with growth rates of over 40 percent – it has become the second largest smartphone market in the world. This is also the case for new brands, such as for emerging Chinese manufacturers, which are expanding rapidly in the global market. By 2015, six of the world’s top ten smartphone brands were already coming from China.

 

4. IoT Goes Mainstream

 

While the smartphone market is still developing at a steady pace and analysts assume that there will be around 6 billion devices worldwide by 2020, the market for connected IoT devices is multiplying almost by the year. There are already five billion consumer IoT devices in use today and, according to Gartner, there will be 14 billion by 2020. New applications are emerging that are attractive and offer added value. Virtual reality headsets provide a completely new entertainment experience. Smart monitoring and control systems for the home increase the feeling of safety and help to save energy. Wearable devices monitor your own health around the clock. IoT is finally on its way to the mass market, helping people connect all areas of their lives.

 

Summary: The mobile industry has changed so much within a decade and mobile devices have become a deeply integrated part of everyday life. As a customer care provider, we have backed this development with great enthusiasm and look forward to the innovations of the next ten years. You can also read the highlights from the 10 years of B2X in an interview with CEO Rainer Koppitzor check out our new video in which B2X founder Karim Barkawi and CEO Rainer Koppitz tell the entire B2X story!

 

Kimberly Meyer is Head of Global Marketing & Communication at B2X.

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