May 19, 2020

A facility for management

world cup
Facilities Management
Bizclik Editor
4 min
A facility for management
Every organization depends on a number of functions and services to provide the support essential to its core business operations. Ensuring that this support is available in the right form, at the right quality and for the right cost is the task of the facilities management industry. FM is a vital function in offices, retail centers, industrial buildings, schools and hospitals.

FM can be difficult to define, but essentially it's about taking control of non-core services, freeing organizations to do what they do best while the facilities managers take care of the rest. Colliers Facilities Management, a major South African outsourcing company, calls it ‘managing your needs, so you can manage your business’: supplying sustained working environments for its clients by managing a wide range of the services critical to each company's infrastructure.

In recent years most organizations have started to think in strategic terms about these critical services. Home grown companies and institutions have taken the in-house model but as overseas companies move in, reluctant to burden their payroll with support staff, FM has emerged as a key business discipline throughout Africa.

Cliff Hocking, President of the South African Facilities Management Association (SAFMA), says his industry has grown more slowly than anticipated over the last three years. “There was fairly large growth from the late 1990s which has not maintained itself among large corporates and more especially government institutions. I think that is where the real opportunities and challenges for the future lie,” he says.

The perception that outsourcing is synonymous with job losses has not endeared the process to the unions or the politically hypersensitive. This perception may have been behind two large stalled projects in the last decade, the Postal Service’s proposal to outsource its facilities nationwide and national power supplier Eskom’s to contract out a large proportion of its portfolio in Gauteng: both were abandoned at the eleventh hour.

But it’s not all bad news. Absa Bank has recently outsourced management of its entire estate, and Colliers CEO Bill Ward thinks the financial sector represents the biggest opportunity currently. “We believe that perhaps 80 percent of the current South African market is untapped. They either do their own FM work or they don’t do it at all! So there’s huge scope locally.”

Ward also sees some signs that large corporates and government bodies are getting over their suspicion of the FM business model. “I think there is greater recognition from those institutions that the outsourced route is potentially better because it generates synergies and savings by using a single FM supplier rather than simply outsourcing many small facets to different companies then having to manage that in-house.”

SAFMA is keen to get the message across that efficiency savings are as important as headcount reduction when it comes to taking the decision to outsource. “Savings are generated by applying better practices, not putting the screw on the service providers to the industry,” says Hocking.

The market is opening up wherever you look, says Ward. “Larger government institutions, schools and hospitals are where we see potential growth in the future. The government is showing itself more willing to get involved in healthcare and education PPPs, and these projects routinely include FM in the package.”

Though the mining and petrochemical industries so important to most African economies are highly specialized in their operations, the former has its above-ground facilities, the latter its portfolio of retail outlets, often with convenience stores, he adds: “Running remote retail locations, making sure they are well stocked, clean and in working order is not core business for the likes of Shell or Total. This is one area where there is quick and easy growth, especially outside of South Africa.”

Here is a reminder that South Africa’s well established FM industry is looked to by other nations in Africa. WSP Facilities Management has identified Nigeria as the single biggest market outside of South Africa. The most populous country in Africa, one of the fastest growing economies in the world and a key player in the international oil industry, Nigeria has seen enormous growth, with a rapidly evolving telecommunications market and a highly developed financial services sector, all with premises in the major centers.

Meanwhile there’s the World Cup. Hocking says its effect may have been to slow down FM activity rather than boost it. “Interestingly, organizations seem to be putting things on hold. The FM issues round the new stadia will probably come to the fore after the tournament when the challenge will be to make them sustainable and find ways of utilizing them for different events like conferencing, music or hospitality”.

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Jun 12, 2021

Re-defining the economics of CX in the new customer journey

Roger Beadle, Co-founder & CEO...
6 min
Roger Beadle, CEO of Limitless looks at how CX can directly Influence revenue generation in streaming services

There’s no shortage of customer service channels for the enterprise to select from today. Regardless of the many new metrics that have emerged – such as customer success, or empathy – cost reduction is still a primary driver in selection criteria.

There are many articles dedicated to how companies can turn customer service and customer experience (CX) from a cost to a revenue centre. The problem is, if you stop there and don’t look beyond cost reduction, you’re limiting the scope for CX to become an even bigger economic contributor in the enterprise.

There is every opportunity for customer service and CX to significantly influence the front end of business, particularly amongst direct-to-consumer subscription-based products and services, such as popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, as well as sports subscription services like DAZN.

In these products and services and others, there are new customer journeys that may drive business growth and revenue. They start earlier and may last a lifetime, so getting things right at the start of the journey is key so that customers have the best experience from day one.

Not only will this help in making customers less likely to reach out for issues-based support further down the line, but these customers will be much less likely to churn, and much more likely to take up new services as they are offered throughout the lifetime journey.

So, what does the new customer journey look like for these services?

Opportunity waiting for the likes of Netflix & Disney

While consumers may have previously regarded customer service as a way to mitigate the inconveniences in their lives, the customer journey is expanding in scope every day. Today there are many more touchpoints available that put CX in a position to drive revenue.

For one-off purchases, traditional CX deployments have not changed significantly in the past few years. However, if you look at the change in the CX relationships we’re seeing with subscription-based products and services, particularly media-based streaming services, it’s clear that these companies lead what quickly become very multifaceted relationships with their customers. These have serious potential to evolve over time for increased economic benefit.

For any sort of subscription-based business, customer lifetime value is paramount, and the requirement to actively manage a continued positive customer experience is critical.

Every interaction is an opportunity, and every data point is a chance to offer more value. Introductory offers can convert to longtime customers. Longtime customers may take up opportunities to upgrade to more premium products or services. They may also appreciate incentives to invite family and friends to become customers. Consumers who like a particular service, for example, may appreciate a recommendation for another similar or complimentary service.

It all starts with customer interaction, and the customer experience journey becomes an opportunity to strategically affect the user base and resulting revenue - which is a far cry from the limitations of call center cost reduction or churn metrics.

How do companies support the new customer journey?

More and more, customers look at the new customer journey as engaging with brands as part of their lifestyles. Many companies are making brand ambassadors available before the traditional customer journey even starts, which is a marked change from a purely transactional relationship associated with a one-off purchase.

These ambassadors, who are often independent users of products or services, are providing trusted pre-sales advice, and that same trusted advice can also function to nurture the customer journey in a subscription-based relationship. Call it ‘GigCX’ or ‘crowdsourced customer service’ or even ‘peer-to-peer customer service’ - it doesn’t matter.

The key is in providing impartial, trusted advice from real users. Think about it: who would you rather get advice from? Someone who has used a product or service extensively, or someone who has been trained to provide customer service surrounding that product or service?

For services such as streaming media, advice from trusted experts with real product know-how could be invaluable. This may not be limited to technical issues, such as what to do when you can’t access your favourite show, or how to access services across various devices. It could be parents helping other parents who are concerned about how to restrict adult content from child viewers, or simply customers who have similar taste in programming who can comment on the benefits of upgraded or premium products. The point is, these experts are easily available at any touchpoint in the customer lifetime journey, creating more chances to add value.

It’s also about tipping customers from ‘passive’ to ‘promoter’ in the NPS scale. It’s an opportunity to turn neutral customers who may be vulnerable to competitive offerings into loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and referring others, fuelling growth. It may ultimately help drive even further revenue by creating customers that are helping to sell the brand itself.

And, while chatbots and automation may play a key role, they are often not able to handle the more complex support needed in the new customer journey. Conversational AI is rarely as conversational as it claims to be, and in the new customer journey, most companies are finding that a mix of automation and people-centric service is an ideal way to nurture the many new touchpoints created.

It’s no longer about trying to replace human capital with automation: it’s about orchestrating a uniquely personalised CX, and proactively engaging during the customer lifecycle to enhance the experience, and to create more long-term value.

At the moment, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the power to affect the economics introduced by the new customer journey. We’ll no doubt see this evolve rapidly particularly amongst streaming companies as they use human-centric connections in CX to support the full potential of customer lifetime value.

About Roger Beadle
Roger Beadle is an entrepreneur and business leader who is reinventing how customer service is delivered via the gig economy. After establishing several businesses in the contact centre industry, Roger co-founded Limitless with Megan Neale in 2016. Limitless is a gig-economy platform that addresses some of the biggest challenges faced by the contact center industry: low pay, high attrition and access to new talent. Previously, Roger and Megan helped to build one of the largest privately-owned outsourced contact center business in Europe, before selling the business to the global conglomerate Hinduja Group. Roger is an outspoken proponent of digital ethics, worker’s rights and the ‘good-gig:’ which encapsulates gig work for incremental pay versus full time work, skilled gig work, no unpaid time/downtime and zero expenses.

About Limitless
Named a Rising Star at Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 program, Limitless is a gig customer service platform, combining crowdsourcing and AI to help global businesses address their biggest customer service challenges – rising costs, increasing attrition, variability in demand and the need for diversity. Brands like Microsoft, Unilever, Daily Mail Group and Postmates are using Limitless’ SmartCrowdTM technology to connect with their most engaged customers, and reward them for providing on-demand customer service that can flex in line with demand. Limitless is one of the world’s first global tech platforms to introduce localised platform terms to protect the rights of its gigging workers. Backed by AlbionVC, Downing Ventures and Unilever Ventures, Limitless is empowering people worldwide to earn money for providing brilliant customer service for the brands they love.

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