Anyone who understands the way contact centers operate today will know that the average customer support operation is under two pressures: to both increase the quality of customer service provided while at the same time keeping costs low, or possibly even reducing them. Instinctively, they seem like competing goals. How can you improve customer care standards when your technology budget is tight?
This begs another question, how do you make sure you're keeping customer standards high in the first place? There are a multitude of metrics used to measure customer service in the call center, and every company seems to do it differently. Whose method is most effective? How can you be sure you're measuring metrics that truly benefit the customer and not just the call center? How do you find a metric that's reliable enough to help you truly measure contact center performance? How do you prove to management that a call center performance is up?
It's tricky, but there ARE ways to change customer care into easily measurable, profit-generating activities that make it easier for companies to justify customer care expenditures, according to Paul Derbyshire, director of operations strategy at Ohio-based InfoCision Management Corporation.
We have adopted the philosophy that customer care applications need to be viewed as profit-generating activities,” said Derbyshire, in a press release. “We are talking about real revenue generated by the cross-sale of appropriate products and services that fit your customers’ needs and wants.”Customer care phone calls, whether inbound or outbound, create a unique opportunity to cross-sell customers at a time when you are building customer loyalty and satisfaction, says InfoCision. And the revenue generated from cross-sales can help to subsidize the cost of customer care activities.“A customer who calls your inbound customer care line and receives assistance that satisfies his or her needs is the most receptive candidate for a cross-sell – more receptive than if you had placed an outbound call or sent that person a mail piece,” Derbyshire said. “Adding a well-thought-out matrix of add-on products and services to your customer care process can turn this costly but necessary service into a profitable activity, covering the call center costs and providing a profit back to your enterprise.”
Many companies are initially wary of adding a skill like cross-selling to its strategic mix, says InfoCision, because they perceive it simply as a cost-expenditure. This is wrong, says the company, and call centers should try to eliminate this from the corporate psyche.
“The budgets that companies allocate to handle customer care are substantial and, as a result, the trend historically has been to pursue a unilateral cost minimization strategy,” said Derbyshire. “However, when considering the cost of your customer care activities, spending the talk-time to introduce new products and services through a thoughtful, coordinated cross-sell program more than pays for the additional per-minute cost, effectively turning customer care into a profit-generating activity.”“In fact, we have seen examples where, after adding a series of cross-sell opportunities the client’s customer care was essentially free. In addition, the client received profit for every call that used to cost it,” added Derbyshire. “Everyone wins in that scenario.”