14 July 2008
Volkswagen South Africa’s customer interaction centre (CIC) claimed first place at the 2008 World Contact Centre Awards, held recently in London, in the category “Best Outbound Campaign” in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
In a statement last week, Volkswagen SA said it had fended off competition from the Mellon Group (from Greece), Barclays Bank (Portugal), Softline Pastel (also from South Africa) and the National Bank of Greece (from Greece).
The centre qualified for the world award after wining national honours at last year’s Business Process Enablement South Africa’s (BPeSA) annual contact centre awards.
BPeSA is a national coordinating body representing the interests of the business process outsourcing and offshoring sector in South Africa, with focus on growing the local industry.
“The Volkswagen SA CIC has managed to scoop people awards on a regional level in previous years, as well as this year, but has never had the honour of winning on an international level,” enthused Volkswagen SA CIC manager Marius Swanepoel.
“We were confident that our entry met all the criteria required for the local and national awards held by the BPeSA and therefore had the potential to compete internationally. In addition, the entry provided us with the opportunity to benchmark our business process on an international level.”
While a call centre is predominantly an inbound environment with customers calling in with queries, an outbound campaign involves a call centre contacting customers, in this case, with Volkswagen’s “Welcome Calls”.
According to the company, the aim of the call was to welcome the customer to the brand, congratulate them on their purchase, to record their data like telephone numbers, addresses and e-mail addresses, and to gain additional info on their interests and hobbies which could be used in future campaigns.
“These calls play a major part in data purification and also contribute to customer retention,” the statement said.
Post-sale quality differentiator
Volkswagen SA said it was essential that their entry displayed competence in various dimensions starting with its strategic and operational objectives, the design and integration of the process, the required investment and the deployment of the campaign.
Swanepoel pointed said that in the automotive industry, the only differentiator post-sale was the quality of the company’s service.
“Your products can be leading-edge, well priced, and have all the additional value-added elements attached to it, but if the customer relationship and after-sales service do not exceed the customer’s expectations, you will not retain that customer for life,” he said.
“Our call centre agents are a vital link in this value chain, a large part of the customer’s perception regarding the quality of our service is determined by these very agents.”
Swanepoel said that the award confirmed that the Volkswagen SA contact centre had a platform for future growth with regard to campaign designs, which would be designed to meet both internal and external requirements, while also proving the value of in-house contact centre operations.
He explained that businesses were regularly confronted with whether or not to outsource their contact centre operations.
“The value proposition of outsourced call centres is always based on at least two pillars – customer focus and cost competitiveness,” Swanepoel said. “This cost competitive in-house proposition is based on building the brand and long lasting customer relations delivered by a passionate team – a winning recipe according to me.”
Over 300 companies from Europe, the Middle East and Africa participated in the awards. The winners qualify for the World Finals, to be held in the United States in November this year, where they will compete with companies from other regions including North America and Asia.
“This award is significant recognition, not only for Volkswagen SA, but for our employees for work well done – vital to the sustained success of any business.”
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