Stop Viewing Contact Centers as Cost Sinkholes
Is the telephone dead in 2017? While it may be true that people are using actual telephony to communicate less, particularly younger people, it turns out we still use the telephone quite a bit. When it comes to customer support, we definitely have more choices: we can email, of course, or try to solve our problem or answer our question ourselves with self-service channels.
According to a recent survey by NewVoiceMedia (News - Alert), 59 percent of customers reported that they still prefer to contact a business by phone. Seventy-five percent believe it’s the most effective way of getting a response from a company. It’s safe to say that the telephone isn’t dead when it comes to customer support, and it’s still the most important element of an omnichannel customer support program.
The misperception that the telephone isn’t needed anymore is a dangerous one for companies hoping to skip the expense of a full-fledged contact center. (Sure, it’s tempting, because it costs money to staff, purchase equipment and technology and run.) But it’s not a viable option, and you’re unlikely to convince many customers that you’re doing them a favor when you’re not there to pick up their calls.
“Perceptions that call centers are on the way out may result in a company hesitating before investing in the technology resources that allow them to be successful,” wrote Monet Software (News - Alert) CEO Chuck Ciarlo in a recent blog post.
Contact centers today shouldn’t be viewed as a necessary evil: all expense, no financial benefit. The traditional contact center should instead be morphing into the foundation on which the customer experience can be built. A properly run facility with good call center management can pay for itself.
“The data [contact centers] generate through that software, and other solutions such as speech analytics, can be used in a variety of ways to generate revenue for the company,” wrote Ciarlo. “Call centers boost customer loyalty. They provide direct customer feedback on which products and promotions succeed and which do not. They generate positive social media posts after a good experience that boosts brand reputation.”
As companies seek to build an omnichannel customer experience, many are skipping over the important step of anchoring that customer experience in a place through which marketing, sales, social influence and proactive customer support can all happen. Marketing doesn’t exist to answer customer questions, and sales is (or should be) concerned with following leads and making new sales. The contact center is the perfect place to host the customer experience, and contact center management should be championing this effort. Draconian efforts to cut the budget of the contact center can damage customer relationships and cost the company more in the long run. Ciarlo notes that cost-per-call, once the metric to watch, should no longer be the most important yardstick.
“The focus instead should be on customer satisfaction, and that sometimes takes a little more time and creativity to achieve,” he wrote. “Besides, lowering cost-per-call the wrong way can result in lowering customers as well.”
Edited by Alicia Young