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Digital Customer Care: From Cost Center to Profit Center


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Customer Care, although often perceived as a mandatory cost center, is essential to every business whatever the industry. However, customer care does not impact businesses equally: a business in the field of telecommunications is more vulnerable than one in the insurance field due to a higher volatility of the market and an ability to turn to a different supplier easily. The distinction real life/virtual world also has an impact on the needs of customer service: for example a store’s proximity is a crucial criteria in real life but is of no importance in the virtual world.

Apart from these differences, a study from Gartner establishes very clearly the importance of customer service: 64% of consumers choose a brand depending on its customer service. With the rapid development of the digital world, customers are given a voice: with customers able to grade a product and leave comments that will influence future clients, the need for Customer Relations is obvious.

Therefore, are Customer Service centers, a cause of costs or for profit? Cyril Fontaine, Expert in Customer Relations for more than 20 years in France and Africa, explains :

“Customer Care is a profits center. Each interaction with a client, even a dissatisfied client, is an opportunity. An opportunity to better understand your client, to satisfy him, but also an opportunity to sell. We must absolutely change the primitive idea of a customer relations center as a costs center : with good management, the opportunities for profit are tremendous.”
Cyril Fontaine Cyril Fontaine
Customer Care Expert

The First Contact Resolution rate, which calculates the percentage of conversations resulting in a successful exchange upon first contact with the business, is a major indicator for Customer Relations. A high FCR has immediate positive repercussions on the entire contact center. Customers who found solutions upon first contact do not feel the need to recontact the company, which means fewer messages and higher customer satisfaction. A decrease in costs and a better flexibility for agents is to be expected which will allow the agents to use the time spared to concentrate on generating profits by crafting strategic actions to better sell. A better structure of teams can also accelerate the shift from cost centres to profit centres. By refocusing the strategy around the client, it is possible to remove technical silos (a social media team, email team, telephone team, messaging team, etc) and by giving counselors the flexibility of accompanying customers via multiple means of communication which will help them give more appropriate answers and give them access to a complete history, businesses will regularize management of customer interactions almost completely digitally.

The fast digitalisation of customer relations brings an accumulation of data, more often than not left unexploited, yet fundamental. By analyzing this data, it is now possible to establish semi-automatic processes allowing to detect such opportunities as a dissatisfied customer (opportunity to limit churn rate) or identifying specific needs (opportunity for upselling). The data available by the digitalisation of customer relations gives a whole new perspective to the concept of customer knowledge and accelerates the transformation of the idea of cost center to profit center. By changing this perspective we are able to bring back the customer at the center of our strategy. While looking at an annual company report, it is easy to see how many times the word “customer” comes up and thus realize how important they are in the company’s global strategy.

Originally published Mar 28, 2018, updated Dec 30, 2022

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