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Call Center Outsourcing: Figuring Out How to Turn Your Customer Support Center Into a Profit Center

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August 16, 2011

Call Center Outsourcing: Figuring Out How to Turn Your Customer Support Center Into a Profit Center

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Sitel, a provider of call center outsourcing solutions has produced a fairly wide-ranging white paper titled “Global Sourcing: (From) Return to Profitability. Your path to turn your service and support contact center into a customer-centric profit center.”

And the paper’s exactly what the title promises it would be. Lots of good stuff packed in the study, and rather than give a quick overview of all topics it covers, which include going beyond just reducing costs, turning the outsourced contact center into a way to increase profits, improving the return on your customer investment and how the evolution of the contact center is changing the client/provider relationship, it also deals well with “what drives the return you receive on your customer investment and what you can do to maximize it.”

Let’s take a more in-depth look at that one area, although the entire paper is certainly well worth the read. The drivers of the return are fairly basic – cost and revenue factored together.

First, there is cost. Non-commoditized organizations need to build a brand with customers, continue to acquire new customers while simultaneously servicing all current customers. The costs of investments in brand and marketing acquisition are made with an eye to immediate revenue, short-term potential. Service costs are generally seen, at best, as an indirect investment or as little more than the unavoidable cost of doing business, to be minimized where possible.

Typically organizations don’t expect to get true channel value by delivering customer service or technical support, and rarely do they approach it with genuine expectations that the service contact center can provide organizations with profitable customer relationship building.

Second, there is revenue. The expected outcome of brand and acquisition investments is new, profitable customer relationships. Contact center service, according to the paper, “is only beginning to be viewed as providing direct revenue potential, because it has traditionally been perceived to provide little direct revenue opportunity.”

Companies know that not all their customers are profitable, and that service interactions don’t necessarily provide direct revenue. But some see opportunities to transform the channel from a cost center to at least a cost neutral business process, or even to a profit center.

“Regard customers based on a perceived value relative to their past, present and projected future transactions,” the paper advises, adding that the higher-potential customer should have the option of interacting with the organization in such a way that is most suitable to that customer, whether it be a live agent, a fully automated tool or an integrated hybrid construct of live agent and technology. Basically, you want to make sure your better customers stick around.

Third, there is return. Within the contact center channel, investments are typically made in agents and their management, technology and customer experience processes. Whether it is recruiting and staffing more experienced agents and managers or increasing the ratio of managers to agents, the people that deliver and directly support the customer interactions are ultimately most able to maximize the customer value.

And as far as technology goes, many companies have vast amounts of usage and, to a lesser extent, behavioral data on customers. Using that data to inform each interaction can help to elicit and achieve the profitability that often remains untapped.

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David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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