I remember a conversation I had with one of my business mentors when I was starting out on my own with my first business. “Revenue is great, but the thing that you always need to be aware of are your costs,” he told me. “And keep in mind it’s not the big-ticket items that will sink you as those will be few; it’s the small expenses that can do you in. Don’t fall into that trap.”
It was great advice and something I’ve tried to keep in mind over the last 15 years of owning my own business. He was correct. What are seemingly small costs can add up quickly, erode profitability, and put a strain on the business.
The same principle applies to the contact centre. There are certain traps that many have fallen into and before they know it, they are over budget and eating into the corporate margin. Here are a few of the most common traps that call centre managers can plummet into and how they can avoid them to ensure they are properly managing costs.
Chasing the shiny object
I’ve spent the majority of my career in the B2B marketing space and have worked with companies of all sizes. One of the things I have seen over the last decade is many marketers making a mad dash to technology. I understand that it’s hard to resist. For years, marketers had no true technological foundation but the reality is that technology with no strategy isn’t a solution; it’s simply technology.
Before you make investments in AI, unified communications and moving your contact centre to the cloud, be sure you have a defined strategy. Then determine the technology you’ll need to enable that strategy.
As part of this process, you should define your technology roadmap that aligns to an innovative and always optimised strategy. Managing this will ensure you get the most from your technology investments (which only 15% of executives say they have) and allow you to better manage your costs.
Cutting corners on customer experience
I once spoke with a corporate executive who wanted to improve the customer experience. He knew the value it would bring to his organisation, that his customers had high expectations and he knew it would help improve their overall net promoter score (NPS). However, he was reluctant to invest in what was needed. He asked me if maybe they could do something like a “customer experience lite?” I replied telling him that was equivalent to being half pregnant.
It’s important to understand that customer experience is an all-or-nothing proposition. In fact, if you look to cut corners in this area, the harm it will do to building trust with your customer base will most likely outweigh the benefits.
The contact centre plays a crucial role in the delivery of CX so it is necessary that organisations make the right investments for them to deliver.
If you want to drive up costs in the form of losing customers, not enabling your agents to deliver CX is a sure-fire way to get that done.
Lack of employee engagement
This last one may not be what you would think of in terms of reducing your operational costs in the contact centre but it certainly should be. Research varies on the typical annual attrition of contact centre agents but estimates range in the 30-45% range.
Thinking about the costs to onboard and train a new agent, the cost of recruiting, and the additional burden that one agent leaving puts on the others; it is estimated that the cost to fill an agent’s role is somewhere between $10,000 – $20,000 US.
It is often said that employees do not leave jobs; they leave bosses and poor culture. It is this reason why employee engagement is an investment that needs to be made in order to control costs for the simple fact that more engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their jobs.
Customers will continue to be more demanding and complex, therefore customer experience is rapidly moving to the centre of most organisational strategies. These two market forces will continue to put the role of the contact centre in a pivotal position to meet those demands and deliver on the promise of experience. Making the right investments can help control costs and help you avoid the trap of overspending and under-delivering.
Originally published Apr 20, 2021