Ways to Justify Investment in a Customer Contact Centre

“Cloud-based call management, recording and intelligent call analytics are a crucial tool in enabling businesses to improve their sales performance and deliver excellent customer service,” – James Slaney

Business leaders have often viewed a customer contact centre as a load on business bottom lines because such centres are, inter alia, primarily driven by paid employees, such operations requires significant investments, and the return on investment in such operations cannot be easily quantified. The concept of the customer contact centre has,  however, undergone significant changes in the last few decades and has emerged as a significant driver of business outcomes. Business mantras and operating paradigms may be subject to evolving market conditions, but a telephone-driven channel (such as a contact centre) has emerged as a mandatory aspect of modern businesses. Therefore, an investment in a customer contact centre should be viewed as an essential business investment that can help to raise the profile of a business or corporate enterprise.

We must note that a customer contact centre remains a vital operation for businesses because these centres can drive customer service, earn customer loyalty, and ensure a steady stream of revenue for the modern enterprise. For instance, a mid-sized e-commerce business operator may choose to invest in contact centre operations to cater to customers, clients, vendors, and suppliers. This signals serious corporate intent to offer the various stakeholders a direct line of communication to the business. Customers that have queries regarding a product or service may dial the toll-free numbers of the said business in a bid to address their queries and concerns. A customer contact centre can also be used as a platform that enables said business to sustain a steady dialogue with its customers and leverage the resulting information to refine and streamline business processes. The continuing relevance of such a contact centre is underlined by the fact that it boosts customer convenience in the aftermath of a sale.

The massive and pervasive use of electronic connectivity technologies can boost the business case for investing in a customer contact centre. Technologies such as automatic call distribution, computer telephony integration, and interactive voice response can help a business to boost cost-efficiency metrics in the operation of a contact centre. We must note that large trans-national businesses cater to a numerically heavy roster of customers (and other stakeholders) and therefore, the use of the above technologies helps the enterprise to serve individual customers better. The business case is further justified when we factor in the customer satisfaction levels that can be achieved through efficient customer contact centre operations. Further, we must bear in mind that satisfied customers are more likely to sustain a business relationship with an enterprise and effective contact centre operations remain instrumental in boosting customer satisfaction levels.

The trained staff and technical resources available at a customer contact centre can leverage sales operations in outbound operations. This implies that the contact centre need not restrict itself to answering customer queries and resolving customer complaints. The sales organization within a commercial enterprise can use the resources of the contact centre to promote sales, initiate first contact with sales prospects, renew contracts with existing customers, stage upselling techniques, and thereby boost the business bottom line. We must note that selling remains at the heart of modern commerce and the customer contact centre (or part thereof) can be dedicated to the commercial activities outlined above. Human interaction over telephone lines increases the probability of closing a sale and is ranked second only to face-to-face interactions. We must note that this ability alone justifies the business investment in a professionally organised and operated customer contact centre.

The centrality of a positive customer experience in modern businesses remains beyond question and a customer contact centre can help businesses to create a competent end-user experience. Customer service driven by human interaction can help a brand or a business to connect with customers at a deeper level. When assisted by technology inputs, a human-driven customer service experience can help enterprises to achieve superior customer experience that may not be possible through technology alone. For instance, a large telecom services provider needs to be able to address customer queries and concerns swiftly and efficiently. This is important for said business because customer dissatisfaction or a half-baked end user experience may drive customer attrition, which remains one of the key parameters in said industry. Bearing in mind the significant acquisition costs of new customers, the said business enterprise would be advised to leverage human interaction to drive positive customer experiences. In addition, we must note that the trained staff members of a customer contact centre can easily bring to bear human intelligence on contact centre operations, assess customer requirements, and defuse a situation on the telephone. These aspects highlight the importance of the human touch in commercial operations. We must note that these factors easily justify the business investments required in initiating and sustaining the operations of a customer contact centre.

Outsourcing contact centre operations remains a viable option for business enterprises. This strategy hinges on cost reductions for the parent enterprise without removing the benefits of operating a full-time contact centre. The outsourced operation represents emphatic business benefits such as reduced costs, scalability, and flexibility in business operations. A business can gain distinct advantages when it outsources its contact centre operations to a third party operator, but the quality of service delivery must certainly meet (and exceed) targets set by the business. In this context, we may note that the outsourcing business model can be viewed through the prism of international politics, but the demonstrated benefits inherent in such operations easily outweigh the costs.

The successful operation of a customer contact centre helps business to develop institutional knowledge and critical customer-facing skills required to sustain a business. The deployment of knowledge management technologies inside a customer contact centre can assist the wider business enterprise to grow and expand its human potential by providing a career path to its many employees. The efficient capture and processing of information from a contact centre operation can be directed into the wider business enterprise for consideration at the highest corporate levels. These facts offer additional business justification for operating a full-fledged customer contact centre. Further, the sustained operation of such centres can provide valuable inputs that can be harnessed to refine business processes and align the business better with the changing contours of a market.

In the preceding paragraphs, we have outlined some of the reasons that justify the operation and expansion of a customer contact centre. Corporate chieftains and business policy architects must realise that a contact centre should be treated as a viable and dynamic business operation that often represents the public face of a brand or business. These operations provide a business with critical elbowroom in the event of an emergency or in situations that can be addressed by immediate communications with customers and other stakeholders. A large and well-managed contact centre operation can also be treated as a business showpiece that can be displayed to interested investors. Interesting market insights and windows into evolving customer preferences may emerge from contact centre operations that achieve high quality benchmarks. Therefore, every enterprise must objectively assess the advantages and benefits that accrue from such operations.

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