Managing call center costs, and customer service demands, is a requirement for a successful project outcome.
Contact center expenses differ based on numerous factors, with technology, service protocols, labor and quality standards as the most prevalent. Businesses must focus on cost containment without negatively impacting customer experiences. To achieve this, call centers should follow the seven suggestions below:
1. Use the Latest Technology
There are many call center software options to choose from. Take the time to properly define your needs, current and future, before beginning the process of vetting your options. Take advantage of cost-saving options like VoIP for your communication needs, and if you want remain competitive, make sure your technology provides omnichannel or multichannel options – phone, email, chat, and SMS – for your customers to use. Allowing customers to choose how they interact with you does affect the bottom line. For example, not everyone can express themselves as well verbally as they can in writing. Forcing someone in this situation to communicate via telephone will undoubtedly result in a prolonged handle time and increased cost per contact.
2. Reduce Agent Attrition
According to various research, the cost of attrition for one call center agent can range from $3,000 to $10,000. It is arguably the most expensive cost of operating a contact center. A Cornell University study indicates that replacing one agent costs a company approximately 16% of the agent’s annual salary. Therefore, an agent who is paid $18.00 per hour, or roughly $36,000 per year, results in a potential attrition cost of $5,760. This fee is to replace just one agent! Successful practices focused on reducing agent attrition include targeted recruiting, practical training, daily management by tenured staff, flexible schedules, constructive development of skills, and providing a career path.
3. Maximize First Contact Resolution Rate
If agents can address customer requests during their initial contact, you save money in reducing the number of touches required to handle a specific need. The most easily measured benefit of this is that you decrease your cost per resolution by eliminating multiple interactions. Second, you reduce the demand for personnel, since fewer overall contacts require fewer resources to serve them, both on an agent and management level. A benefit of maximizing first contact resolution rates beyond saving money is the positive impact on CSAT scores. Proper training and access to knowledge-based resources required to provide appropriate support are critical components to building a program that maximizes first contact resolution rates and reduces handle times.
4. Provide Self-Help Options
Employing technology with self-help options, such as IVR, saves money by reducing demand for human support. In any eCommerce business, for example, customers often contact support to request the shipment date on their order, a request which can be answered without a live agent. When you design a program, identify all opportunities for self-help. Once live, you should monitor reports reflecting the reasons customers are contacting customer service and focus on identifying additional needs that can be satisfied through the self-help option. Consider this a fluid component of a successful program.
Reducing live agent demand saves money per contact. The reduction of live staff is significant since we understand that the cost to replace agents due to attrition is quite expensive, as previously noted. The fewer agents needed, the better, when it comes to attrition costs.
5. Allocate Sufficient Management Personnel
Companies must budget for sufficient management staff. The investment in labor costs for trainers, supervisors, team leaders, quality assurance analysts and client service staff is essential to the success of programs and ultimately reduces costs. Without support and training, agents can’t do their jobs properly. Communication is critical in providing the mentoring that agents require to succeed, and your management staff is central to the agenda. Agents who leave contact center jobs frequently cite a lack of training and feedback as reasons for doing so. The cost to replace agents is high, and management staff plays an integral part in retaining their team members. Ensure your program budget includes funds for enough managers to drive successful program results while developing agent skills.
6. Analyze KPIs to Manage Agents
Constant monitoring of KPIs is a must in order to understand where managers should be focused. There is a lot of data available on every program, no matter what type. You should monitor primary data such as agent’s availability, occupancy, and abandon rates. Additionally, program-specific metrics such as handle time, first contact resolution rate, sales conversion rate, and transfer rates should be measured against goals established at the program’s outset.
Even the most experienced agents can make mistakes and may require additional assistance to be their best. KPIs serve as the starting place for understanding where opportunities exist for improvement. They provide management with the insight needed to understand where additional training and mentoring should be focused, the outcome of which should be better results and lower costs.
7. Employ Virtual Staff
The brick-and-mortar office model is no longer the norm. The pandemic demonstrated how companies can effectively maintain, if not increase, both production and quality, using virtual staff. There are many benefits to employing remote agents. Employers benefit by accessing qualified staff in labor pools they otherwise couldn’t access. There is also less attrition amongst virtual agents, a significant victory when managing call center costs.
Time to Act
The steps outlined above should provide you with action items that can easily save you money. Telecom, Inc. has been building successful, cost-contained solutions for our partners for nearly thirty years. Please contact us to discuss how we can assist you.