Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Study Benchmarks Success Service-to-Sales Transitions in Call Centers

July 20, 2007

Call centers that traditionally handled only basic calls, either inbound or outbound or both, served a specific purpose for the organization. However, as these centers represented a major drain on corporate fiscal resources, management sought out ways to either reduce the burden, or turn these centers into profit centers.
 
As a result, many call centers implemented a Service-to-Sales model. While this platform has been around for many years, many call centers continue to struggle to master the art of selling while also continuing to conduct ongoing customer service.
 
For those who are able to successfully conquer the challenge, the rewards can be significant, including lower acquisition costs; expanded customer relationships; greater barriers to customers switching; greater customer loyalty; and enhanced employee satisfaction.
 
Analysts with Best Practices LLC collected and shared the performance metrics, operational practices and tactics that led specific companies to achieve mastery in a comprehensive benchmarking study.
 
"Transforming Contact Centers into High-Performing Sales Channels: Building Service that Sustains Sales," centers on identifying the winning tactics and lessons that can be learned from service-to-sales call centers that have been successfully driving revenue growth through superior hiring, training and management of their staff.
 
Best Practices studied 57 companies and conducted in-depth interviews with select contact center executives to complete this study. As a result, contact centers throughout the global industry can compare its service and sales readiness against top companies in the financial services, travel, credit card, telecommunications, manufacturing, computer, chemical, printing and other industries.
 
When interviewing executives, Best Practices found that they had identified clear benefits to staffing with incumbent employees. For instance, a senior vice president in operations at a financial service company noted that this practice allows the firm to cut initial agent training by more than half.
 
Benchmarked companies also revealed that agents who sell and cross-sell successfully are able to realize significant salary increases. In certain contact centers, high performers have the potential to double their base salaries from a typical salary of around $20,000 to close to $40,000 through cross sales.
 
One benchmarked company operating in the banking space follows a 6-week service training class with a 2-4 week integration period where new hires take live calls with “walkers” close by to help out and provide coaching.
 
New employees must be certified in customer service before they graduate to a week long sales training program, which includes modules on products, selling, skills, systems and tools. Once training is complete, the company provides an additional two-week period of integration, during which employees practice their new skills with a coach at hand.
 
Whether the call center remains a traditional center or moves to the service-to-sales model, training is the most critical element to the success of the center. Proper training will ultimately reduce costs, improve customer service and deliver better overall performance for the entire call center.
 
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC (News - Alert) and has also written for eastbiz.com. To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.
 
Want to learn more about call centers? Then be sure to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users. The papers are authored by industry leaders, who, in turn, receive qualified sales leads from interested parties. Check here for the latest in CRM information.

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