In 2002, Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s introduced a radically new way of constructing a winning baseball team; one which allowed them to compete with big market clubs despite Oakland’s substantial capital disadvantage (their budget was $76M less than the New York Yankees that year). They did it by upending long-entrenched practices in scouting and trade strategy, obsessing over only the metrics (on base percentage) that led to real outcomes (scoring runs), and casting aside long-held assumptions about player evaluation.
I see a lot of parallels between how the Oakland A’s disrupted baseball and how my company, ArenaCX, is disrupting the customer service industry. In a world where we’re bombarded with data it can be tempting to focus only on those metrics that we can easily track and control, which has often led customer service leaders to focus on operational efficiency metrics like Time to First Contact (TFC) and Average Handle Time (AHT). But are those metrics directly creating business value? I would argue that they are not and therefore should be replaced with KPIs that represent real business outcomes, like higher customer satisfaction, lower customer churn or more repeat purchases.
The Oakland A’s were able to upend baseball in 2002 because they changed how they thought about outcomes. Paul Podesta (named Peter Brand in the movie Moneyball) analyzed the data and found the single metric most predictive of a player’s ability to score runs: on base percentage (OBP).
In hindsight, that takeaway doesn’t seem revolutionary; in order to score runs you need to have players on base, so it stands to reason that the more often someone gets on base, the more opportunities they have to score a run.
The revolution was in the realization that how a player got on base made little difference – getting a hit, earning a walk, or even getting hit by a pitch were all equally likely to result in a run.
ArenaCX is disrupting the customer support industry in a similar way by creating a solution that focuses on measuring and improving the true drivers of value in customer support: customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction may be the ‘on base percentage of customer support’ as most meaningful business outcomes are underpinned by that one metric. After all, unhappy customers churn more frequently, engage in fewer repeat purchases, and actively share their poor experiences with others, likely affecting sales by depressing acquisition.
The challenge for support leaders is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all blueprint for satisfying a customer, so support organizations need to have a balanced, flexible approach in order to respond to inevitable changes in customer preferences and business conditions. For example, imagine your CFO tells you costs are big priority this season and asks you to strip 20% from your run-rate. How would you accomplish that without disappointing your customers or hurting your internal morale?
Similarly, imagine one of your call center partners wins a big new client and loses focus on your business. What levers could you pull to keep delivering high quality service to your customers within your budget? Or, what if your new product gets up-voted on Product Hunt and you find your 5-person operation being overrun with questions from new clients? Having the flexibility in your operations to be able to adapt quickly to the unknowable is key to a successful CX operation.
So, how is this accomplished? I argue you should take a portfolio approach with your call center partnerships, designing purposeful redundancy into your network, and creating the structure for healthy competition amongst your contact center partners. I encourage Customer Service leaders to cast aside assumptions about BPO pedigree, judgments about which contact center had the best RFP responses or deck, and focus on the important metric: actual performance.
ArenaCX brings a network of BPO partners to the table, not just one, who compete every day (not just at RFP time), for business based on what the Brand defines as their most important business outcomes. We find that there is rarely ‘one BPO to rule them all’; rather, different BPOs excel at different things and by measuring their performance we’re able to tailor the tickets each BPO gets to what they’re best at solving. This approach also ensures that the level of performance keeps getting driven up and you will find, like the Oakland A’s, that your budget is able to accomplish more than you ever imagined.
The events over the last year have proved just how important it is to be able to deliver better outcomes for less cost. We’re at the dawn of a new era in the BPO industry – one where real tangible outcomes will be expected from partners, not just adherence to surface-level KPIs. The BP(2.)O evolution is underway and contact centers that don’t adapt the way they engage with businesses will be left in the dust.
Interested in learning more about ArenaCX can help you knock you customer service goals out of the park?
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