While it’s instinct for many companies to cut costs during a lagging economy, it’s not always wise. By all means, put off painting the building for another year or ensure that employees aren’t wasting office supplies or utilities. Where many companies go wrong, however, is by cutting back in places that could actually help the company grow during a flat economy. The call center is one of these places.
Many companies believe that allowing the contact center to struggle with outdated equipment for one more year is a good decision. But the contact center is the front-line for any company: it’s the entity that decides whether a customer will stay and buy more or depart for a competitor. Conventional wisdom tells us that to recover from an economic slump, a company needs to keep the customers it has and add new ones. This simply isn’t possible if the contact center doesn’t have the right tools to do so.
In fact, a slow economy represents an opportunity for many companies. Customers are often dissatisfied with their existing providers, so they often go looking for new ones that will meet their needs. Being the company to do so is advantageous to business.
Peggy Carlaw, founder of Impact Learning Systems, recently blogged for hosted contact center solutions provider Five9 (News - Alert), writing that positive call center experiences will have a positive impact on customer satisfaction and lead to a number of factors that will benefit a company vying for business in a slow-growth economy. On the flip side, a business offering lackluster service in a slow economy is even more likely to drive customers away.
“A study last year of 195 professionals and 165 college students by Ernest Ronan found that when customers had bad experiences with call center staff, they were less willing to buy from the company in the future,” wrote Carlaw. “The strength of this reaction increased from 72 percent in 2005 to 86.3 percent last year.”
It’s official: offering poor customer service in a down economy is even more catastrophic for a company than offering indifferent service is a good economic climate. For this reason, it’s critical that companies pay attention to their contact center infrastructure while the economy is still recovering.
Luckily, this doesn’t necessarily require spending more: it may even involve spending less. Moving away from expensive, wasteful premise-based solutions to an on-demand contact center solution offers more flexibility, better integration, remote administration and the ability to use home-based agents: all moves that can save companies money. A cloud-based solution, which can be implemented with little to no upfront capital, can reduce expenditures on the IT front while at the same time allowing contact centers to make use of distributed offices and remote agents. This not only saves money, but it can help streamline processes and pull together resources in a way that allows the call center to offer better service than it did before, retaining existing customers and winning new ones.
So if your organization’s instinct has been to cut corners in the contact center in the belief that you’re saving money, think again: moving to a modern, virtual service can ultimately represent the best of both worlds for your customer support functions.