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Chat Services: Teleperformance’s Playbook & Targets


In NelsonHall’s 2017 report, ‘Multi-Channel CMS – Delivering Digital Customer Experience’, I forecast that the chat channel, in all its forms, would become 18% of the global CX services outsourcing market by 2020, growing by 30% CAGR. What fuels this sizable growth are the many benefits to brands offering sales and support over text channels, the advancement of customer-facing automation, the spread of messengers, and above all, the high customer adoption rate. Today, social messengers have more active users than social networks, and while the phone channel is not disappearing any time soon, it has become a social norm to text someone before giving them a call.

In this blog, I look at how Teleperformance develops chat services to reach ~11k FTEs globally, supporting chat in 17 languages for ~140 clients across multiple verticals.

Benefits for customers

Live chat, and increasingly cognitive bots, offer real-time context for customers in their interactions with brands. Text channels (from traditional desktop chat to in-app chat and messengers) offer flexibility, with asynchronous conversation, immediacy with the convenience of mobility, and with voice-to-text technology, low effort and lower attention requirements. Text channels also support rich media such as documents, links, images, and videos enhancing usability in sales scenarios to push coupons and to send guides for customer service. They also offer co-browsing and screen sharing for complex technical support. It is not surprising then that chat often has higher customer satisfaction and a higher conversion rate than voice.

Benefits for companies

For companies using chat for sales and support, it offers a range of advantages:

  • True digital support
  • Global reach – for example, Telepeformance’s third and fourth largest chat populations are in Brazil and China
  • Breadth of services – for example, for Teleperformance, ~65% of chat is customer service, followed by ~27% technical support, 4% sales, and 4% other services
  • It has operational benefits, including higher agent satisfaction by lowering fatigue, better WFM with concurrency and blended delivery, better data capture, and better performance monitoring
  • Also, in certain scenarios, it can lower cost by deflecting calls and increasing productivity.

Benefits for CX services providers

In addition to all the end-user and brand benefits, for CX services providers, chat interactions give the option to bypass language barriers and accent-neutrality issues. For example, the newly formed Teleperformance Digital Integrated Business Services (DIBS) has ~1.8k chat agents in India supporting ~20 international clients.

It also opens opportunities to assist clients with their digital channel activation. Teleperformance DIBS has developed a dedicated voice-to-chat deflection product. It detects the customer’s smart device during a call to a toll-free number. If the phone can support rich text, it offers the customer the option to switch from voice mode to chat mode and sends the customer an SMS with a chat link. Teleperformance aims for a minimum 15% deflection rate, on qualified opportunities, by the deployment of TP voice-to-chat.

Text channels are also the preferred environment where CX services companies deploy traditional chatbots and implement cognitive automation in the form of NLP- and ML-supported bots. For example, Teleperformance DIBS has deployed a cloud-based Chat bot for a Southeast Asian postal and logistics services company with operations in 15 countries. Supported since 2014, the company now has ~ 30% of its chat volumes in purely transactional interactions. Teleperformance deployed automation to help agents with suggested responses and quicker retrieval of knowledgebase articles. In December 2018, it launched a customer-facing bot called Sophie for self-service. As a result, the client experienced ~43% volume containment in chat, 30% improvement in customer satisfaction, and 18% cost savings within a four-month period.

Requirements for chat implementations

Successful chat programs define a channel-specific strategy which encompasses identifying its suitability, selection and integration of required technology, operational management optimization, and the creation of dedicated agent recruitment and training. Teleperformance typically conducts a discovery exercise which assesses details such as proactive vs. reactive chat and level of reporting (following its proprietary 100-page chat playbook which recommends best practices, for example in the suitable number of concurrent sessions, market, and target KPIs). It has dedicated chat success managers to jump-start a chat program, analyze chat performance data, and manage the strategic requirements.

Separate ‘Tiger’ teams specialize in the most popular chat platform integration and customization (LivePerson, Nuance, Oracle, Zendesk, Moxie). There is a chat-specific recruitment framework with checks for typing speed, grammar, and abilities to multitask and respond quickly. For example, two recruiters may engage with the candidate at the same time over chat sessions and track if the applicant answers within 30 seconds. The company also has dedicated training modules including for chat handling skills, writing skills, positive phraseology, and professional vs. social chatting.

An example of a client using chat success managers is an American digital stock agency, for which Teleperformance DIBS supports voice, email, and chat. Starting in August 2018, the chat development team implemented web analytics and proactive webchat based on the customer profile and stage of their shopping experience. Within six months the client had a 47% increase in revenue, an 18% increase in average order value, and a 20% increase in overall sales.

Future of chat CX services & Teleperformance targets

Between the opening of WhatsApp APIs for business, its future integration with Facebook and Instagram, and the dominance of WeChat in China (or similarly, LINE in Japan & Taiwan, Viber in Eastern Europe, Telegram in Iran), text communication will become a game-changer for all B2C brands. While desktop chat still dominates (~60% for Teleperformance) it is gradually being replaced by these newer UIs as companies move to proactively meet their customers on their preferred channel. This change will further the need to perform more complex interactions effectively over chat.

For Teleperformance, the objective in the short term is to add accounts to its voice-to-chat product, to add ~100 client LOBs in chat just in English, and to reach 20k chat agents globally in 2019.

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