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  • Noah Beltran, SVP Transformation & Innovation, Sutherland

Contact Center Investments: Mistakes to Avoid

Contact center spending, done right, can drive down costs without compromising growth.

In today’s uncertain economy, brands need to be strategic about their contact center investments. That means focusing on the right things in the right way so that current cost containment doesn’t undermine future growth.

In fact, contact centers themselves can drive brand growth: Gartner predicts that 40% of them will turn into profit centers by 2025. Why not have your contact center join them?

To ensure success, avoid these key mistakes:

Skimping on AI

Investing in the right artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities can both streamline your operational expenses and drive growth. That’s what happened at a national sports media giant when it introduced a custom-made conversational AI agent to help its 17+ million fans create and operate online tournament brackets. Within a year the brand reduced its fantasy sports operating costs by 10% and fueled 122% growth in engaged sessions. The company hasn’t looked back.

Misallocating human capital on tasks you can automate

By letting chatbots handle routine customer queries via self-service options, you can maximize your investment in live agents, freeing them up to drive value-generation activities like sales conversions and upselling.

Take, for instance, a top entertainment provider of gaming consoles that introduced a chatbot after being overwhelmed by basic service requests, many of them about password resets. Within 60 days of rollout, chatbots handled 250,000 queries, achieving 70% savings per interaction while letting agents concentrate more on revenue opportunities.

Taking narrow metrics at face value

KPIs that measure abstractions like time and frequency tell you only so much. A fuller story emerges when you assess such metrics in the context of economic outcomes like incremental sales and average order size.

Consider average handle time (AHT) scores: These could be reinterpreted to reflect revenue generation, not just problem resolution. A contact center agent at a software company, for instance, might exceed the industry’s AHT of 4.7 minutes[2] by taking extra time to convert a customer complaint into a sale. The result? Tangible value that outlasts the interaction.

Miscalculating cost of ownership

Another narrow metric is rate per hour. When tallying the cost of customer care, companies that zero in on hourly rate often ignore net total costs and ROI resulting from CX enhancements. As customer service leaders increasingly focus on CX strategy, we expect brands will migrate to a more holistic view of customer care costs and benefits.

As it already stands, 68% percent of customer service leaders prioritize CX strategy, with another 56% ranking growth among their top two objectives.[3] For companies like these, FTE is just one aspect of a bigger picture that includes targeted spending on CX digital accelerators such as automation, artificial intelligence, data analytics and omnichannel. When analyzing their spending, growth-focused businesses take into account how their digital investments drive sales conversions, reduce churn and increase customer lifetime value. The result is a broader, more-useful cost-of-ownership calculation.

What to bank on. As you assess your own customer care investments, keep these sound measures in mind:

  • Leverage data and analytics to generate greater value for both your customers and your business.

  • Give your agents sales training to derive maximum ROI from your customer care function.

  • Work with a customer care partner that bills based on business outcomes, not standard fees.

In the meantime, let’s talk. We’d love to hear from you.

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