It always comes back to the bottom line. Is the amount of money spent on a part of your business delivering the necessary return on investment? And when it comes to the less glamorous parts of a company, like contact centers, is the output rationalizing the input?
Contact centers are a key part of a thriving business. They may be behind-the-scenes, but they are front and center for your customers. A high-functioning and well-trained service team is key to happy customers.
So how do you make your contact center the most efficient piece of your business, increasing ROI while cutting costs?
1. Optimize your workforce
One of the highest costs for any contact center is the talent. Human agents cost money, and a lot of it. The first step to reducing costs is to optimize the work of the live agents. Here are several ways:
- Measure and improve: Monitor your agents’ calls with listening technology in order to understand roadblocks, areas for improvement, and wins. When you see an inefficiency, you can fix it quickly after analyzing performance. Improvements can include a script rewrite, additional training, or new ideas to motivate agents.
- Reduce handle times: Find ways to decrease the amount of time an agent needs to remain on the phone with a customer. An ACD system can route callers to the correct agents with relevant expertise, reducing the number of call transfers. An integrated CRM can provide a full history of previous interactions so that the agent can anticipate a customer’s needs. Implementing automation, which we’ll dive into below, can expedite handle times, or eliminate the need to get on the phone completely.
- Empower your agents: Provide your agents with the tools to be successful. Give them the space and training to learn and grow their skills to provide callers with the best customer service.
- Stay remote: When COVID-19 hit, employees around the world had to quickly adapt to working from home, including contact center agents. What happens when it’s safe to return to work? It might make sense to stay home. According to a Nemertes study, “among all companies with employees working from home now, 70.6% say they’re likely to continue doing so.” Employees working at home have been more productive and the rate of turnover has decreased.
2. Automate your interactions
Reduce the volume of work for your agents by automating as many interactions as possible. There are many tools available for customer self-service that not only decrease human agent conversations, but also improve customer experience.
- Utilize your website: Provide answers to frequently asked questions on your website to cut down on the number of calls with questions that can be answered with a quick search.
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR): Implement IVR as a self-service tool for your customers. With the right prompts, IVR can help customers solve their own problems before reaching a human agent. It can also be integrated into an existing ACD to help route calls to the most relevant live agents, cutting down on the need to transfer callers around the office or turn into repeat callers.
- Chatbots: Like IVR, chatbots provide self-service options for customers. The goal is to handle as many customer requests through virtual agents before any queries are routed to human agents. In addition to decreasing customer wait times, chatbots help reduce the need for more expensive human agents.
3. Keep your head in the cloud
Consider moving your contact center services to the cloud for cost-saving results. Cloud-based contact center software is a more flexible way to manage your systems than on-premise. When you move away from on-premises to the cloud, you have the same capabilities, but without many of the upfront and maintenance costs. There are no initial hardware costs. You no longer have to maintain your servers, or have additional space to house those servers. IT support won’t be required in the same way because maintenance and upgrades occur through the service.
By running your contact center in the cloud, you will have access to the latest updates and capabilities. With cloud-based software, you are able to integrate with your existing channels easily, while optimizing your ability to scale quickly.
Lastly, cloud-based software allows your agents to work from anywhere. In a time where remote work is critical, and cost saving is top of mind, it makes long-term financial sense to move your contact center services to the cloud.