The outsourcing community was abuzz with the news that Mr Ajay Banga, president of The World Bank, and his wife Ritu Banga, paid a visit to Nigeria where they were also hosted for a site visit at Outsource Global by CEO, Amal Hassan. In a LinkedIn post, Hassan noted the privilege of sharing Outsource Global’s vision to make Nigeria the epicenter of outsourcing excellence, thereby unlocking opportunities for youth and women. Outsource Global is a certified member of GBS.World.

Globally, the customer service industry is continuing to grow at an unprecedented rate, putting more pressure on customer service agents. According to a survey conducted by Kapture CX, 22% of agents noted that they receive limited support during peak periods. Moreover, 34% felt that their team has inadequate tools or staffing levels to efficiently manage incoming support tickets. The survey also reveals that 47% of customer support agents logged initial response times of 15 minutes, which leads to longer queues and poor customer service.

One solution being touted to mitigate poor customer experience (CX) is the use of generative artificial intelligence (AI). But will AI really replace human-centric customer service? While Gartner predicts that investment in generative AI will lead to a 20-30% reduction in customer service agents by 2026, it will not result in wholesale shuttering of the live customer service function. The hype around workforce reduction needs to be quelled, says Gartner. Initially, leaders should invest in generative AI capabilities that help service agents better serve the customer.

In an effort to boost CX, US-based CVS Health is tying executive bonuses to meeting customer experience targets. CVS Health noted that this move would ensure accountability for customer outcomes across the C-Suite. “Linking customer experience to compensation has given us a seat at the table and made people start paying attention,” says Srikant Narasimhan, vice president of enterprise customer experience at CVS Health. “This has made C-Suite executives realize that if they do not actually address this, they will not get their bonuses paid.”

A recent article in Retail Customer Experience, noted that more customers are demanding efficiency, flexibility, timeliness, value, and priority. This includes the frustration felt by customers with long lines, endless waits, and stressful visits. Digital queue management platforms can offer one solution to this, the article notes. Customers can check into a queue by scanning a QR code, entering details at a computer kiosk, sending a text message, or giving information to a greeter. They then receive updates on their smartphones on their place in line, estimated time to service, and when their turn is coming up.

When looking further at CX consumer preferences, a survey conducted with 2,000 US and UK online shoppers noted that 93% want flexible, extensive return policies. Conducted by Loop, the report revealed that consumers aren’t just looking for free returns anymore. In fact, what they want is a quality experience that shows that brands care about them. Specifically, consumers are looking for easy, seamless returns, personalized experiences and product quality guarantees.

Meanwhile, in Japan, Fujitsu launched a new AI module for retailers that generates AI avatars and customized promotional content on digital signage based on in-store behavior data of consumers. With the support of the Retail AI Institute, Fujitsu will begin verifying the technology in actual stores at the Aruk Mitajiri Store in Hofu City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. The solution leverages both generative AI and Fujitsu’s human sensing technology to provide a more customer-centric shopping experience. It also helps retailers improve sales targeting with promotions that react to customer interest.

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