June 27, 2014
Technologies Keep Contact Centers from Becoming Sinkholes of Cash
By Tracey E. Schelmetic
It’s conventional wisdom in most companies – from the smallest to the largest – that the contact center is a sinkhole of cash. “A necessary evil” is sometimes what it’s labeled. The line of thinking is that customers are the lifeblood of any business, so in order to keep them coming back, we need to support them. But all we get out of it is the opportunity to keep those customers.
This kind of thinking is starting to change, thanks to best practices case studies from more progressive companies who actually seem to get something back from their contact centers. Technology plays a role, as well, as does changing thinking about how much the value the contact center brings in is worth in monetary value, according to South Africa-based contact center reseller Intuate Group.
“Often overlooked, the contact center is re-entering the spotlight as a valuable channel for driving customer loyalty; in fact, it is increasingly being seen as a critical component in improving the customer experience and informing CRM processes, fostering relationships and gathering valuable data from key customers,” writes the company. “As advancements in contact center technologies transform the contact center from ‘cost center’ to ‘profit center,’ businesses are beginning to notice the value that contact centers contribute, not only to the bottom line, but also to the loyalty-generating customer experience.”
So how much is a positive customer experience worth? While it’s hard to put a price tag (News - Alert) on – a CFO might try – it’s safe to say a transaction that keeps positive customer loyalty in place is worth a great deal. The technologies that allow companies to build this loyalty, therefore, are a good investment. Some of these technologies include:
Cloud-based contact centers. Inexpensive to implement and cost-effective to run on a monthly basis, cloud-based contact center platforms can offer companies an easy path to an integrated multichannel customer support experience that brings in not only phone, email and Web channels, but social media and mobile app.
Real-time analytics. Analytics were once a technology carried out in the past tense. Transactions were analyzed after they took place, and any intelligence generated were a footnote about what had gone wrong. Increasingly, analytics in the contact center take place in real-time, allowing companies to make adjustments that can fix problems even before they occur.
Compliance technologies. Outbound isn’t dead, though telemarketing legislation has changed its face forever. Many companies find success and fill their sales pipelines through the intelligent (and legal) use of key outbound technologies, whether by telephone, email, text or social media. The key is crafting an appealing outreach program that obeys the rules. Analytics can help you target your outbound campaign in a way that yields maximum results.
Workforce optimization. Work with too few agents, and you risk burning them out and irritating customers. Work with too many, and they get bored and you’re paying out more in labor costs than you need to. Today’s workforce optimization solutions can ensure you have just the right amount of labor in place at any given moment to regulate the workload to ideal levels and ensure when customers reach out, they can be quickly connected to the right person to handle their query.
Running a contact center should never involve a sacrifice to the gods of cash outlay and a hope that expenses won’t get out of control. With the right attitude, the right technologies and the right people in place, the contact center can become a source of revenue (or, at least, revenue-generating behavior) instead of a bottomless sinkhole of cash.
Edited by Maurice Nagle