In tough economic times, some companies turn to their call center in an attempt to cut costs. Peggy Carlaw of Business2Community warns that this is not a prudent decision, outlining the benefits of a call center in her recent article, “The Strategic Role of the Call Center in a Recovering Economy.”
Carlaw advised businesses, “Rather than thinking of the call center as a cost center… smart companies are using their call centers to strategic advantage.” Call centers, she said, have the potential to build customer loyalty, to improve sales, referrals, and improve shareholder value. Even more compelling to businesses, she cited a report from RightNow, which noted that, following a poor customer service experience, 89 percent of customers began doing business with a competitor. Conversely, satisfied customers are 33 percent more likely to purchase from a company that they are happy with again in the future.
Clearly, call centers are not the place to start cutting costs in a budget crunch. In order to increase efficiency, call center managers and supervisors should know the warning signs of a call center employee who has become disengaged. With the fate of business hanging in the balance of customer satisfaction, call centers should be certain to keep their employees engaged.
Rather than evaluating how to cut costs in a call center, businesses should, instead, evaluate how they can improve their efficiency (without coming at the cost of customer service) and improve their customer experience. By cutting call center costs, a business can easily become the next cost to be cut in the household budget of their consumers. When consumers call a company and have extensive wait times, unfriendly interactions, or even indifferent interactions, their perception of a company are adversely affected.
As businesses across the country strategize their 2013 budget, it is important for them to bear these lessons in mind.
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