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Convergys’ IC Division Takes Entrepreneurial Approach to Pricing & Analytics

NelsonHall recently visited one of Convergys’ Intelligent Contact (IC) centers in Belfast, Northern Ireland. IC originally started life as LBM in 1996, then was acquired by Stream in 2013, which was itself acquired by Convergys in 2014. IC is a specialist sales division of Convergys, consisting of agents across multiple centers in Belfast and Greater Manchester, performing a mix of outbound and inbound campaigns.

While the concept of isolated sales-focused call centers is nothing new in the outsourced CMS space, the way in which IC conducts itself, especially now that it is a division of a large CMS pure play, is particularly interesting. IC seems to have maintained its “small company“ agility and go-to-market strategy; for example, the vast majority of the division’s contracts are run on a pure outcomes-based pricing model, a concept that many of the larger CMS vendors would baulk at! This pricing model is also reflected in agents’ compensation, ensuring an incentivized and motivated workforce.

The division has also proved to be an early mover in adopting and developing some of the more interesting and actionable analytics and agent-facing platforms. IC has developed a customer profiling tool, icConsumer, which uses a combination of data sources, including information entered online by the customer prior to an outbound call, multi-channel contact history (including previous purchasing information), lifestyle and interest data gathered from social networks, and data from third party providers. The aggregated data from icConsumer is segmented, then fed into icDial, a managed dialer service which proactively prompts an agent to call a profiled customer at a particular time.

Once an agent is speaking to a customer, another tool, icEngage, displays relevant customer information, including age, gender, marital status, number of children/dependents, interests, a geographic map of the customer’s location, local weather and local news. With this information agents are able to build rapport with the customer before using the customer’s spending history to make the most relevant suggestions for an initial sale. Once the initial sale is completed, agents can then use information such as number of dependents, marital status, interests, etc. to make up-sell and cross-sell suggestions – e.g. family contracts, insurance, or extra data bundles if selling on behalf of a telecom client.

IC currently has clients in the telecoms, BFSI and utilities verticals. For a large U.K. telecom, IC has become a major sales channel, operating 100% of the client’s outbound sales, accounting for a third of the client’s new contracts per annum.  For this client, IC-acquired customers generally remain ~20% longer than customers acquired through the client’s other sales channels. Similarly, for another large U.K. telecom, IC acquired the equivalent of ~300 high street stores.

Moving forward, Convergys is planning to target the U.S. market by opening additional IC centers in the U.S. and the Philippines later on this year. Convergys is also looking to sell IC technology, including icConsumer, icEngage, and icDial on a SaaS basis in the future.

Given that the vast majority of its contracts have an outcomes-based pricing model, which is then filtered down throughout the organization, IC has fostered an entrepreneurial and sales-focused mindset across its operations. This high-pressure, results-driven environment, which requires a particular type of agent, can often lead to extremely high attrition levels; however, IC’s attrition of between 5%-7% per month is better than would normally be expected of a large outbound sales call center.

See related article Convergys to Acquire Stream Global Services, Becoming Number Two CMS BPO Vendor Globally

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