Although the term 'profit center' has been bandied about from time to time over the past 10 years, it's often more of a nice gesture than a reality. As the technology landscape has evolved, however, giving way to multi-channel communications and innovations, the possibility of turning the contact center into a profit center is finally within reach.
Before organizations can realize this goal, and truly leverage the contact center as a profit-producing asset, they need to address three key areas:
(1) Recognize the Value of Contact Center Agents
As important as it is to leverage the latest multi-channel contact center technology and automated notification systems, the role of contact center agents is more important than ever. High turnover among contact center agents not only compromises your ability to provide quality customer service, but also creates a burden of constant hiring and training of new employees, which can hurt morale and further complicate matters.
A 2013 ContactBabel survey of 205 contact center managers found that 27% of agents leave their jobs every year, and in certain markets, like outsourcing, the attrition rate surpasses the 50% mark.
Before any company can operate a profit-generating contact center, it has to create an environment where contact center agents feel valued and are supported with the necessary tools to take care of customers.
(2) Embrace Customer and Employee Mobility
Research firm MarketsandMarkets estimates the BYOD (bring your own device) and enterprise mobility market is growing at 15% CAGR (compound annual growth rate), and will reach the $181 billion mark by 2017. Additionally, the Pew Research Center says that 56% of all American adults are now smartphone users.
Savvy businesses are using this trend to their advantage by creating apps that allow customers to click on an icon and engage in any number of cross-channel interactions, including text, video, social media, and live chat.
Mobile solutions also allow contact center supervisors to do their jobs without being tethered to workstations and to be more engaged with the struggles/challenges their subordinates face.
(3) Don’t Underestimate Social Media
Just about every company gives lip service to the importance of social media, but very few take it seriously. In fact, according to research from Ovum, nearly half of major banks around the world have no strategy at all for using social media channels in their customer support functions. Even more revealing: Only 6% of banks that do leverage social media use it to respond to customer requests.
The fact of the matter is those organizations that truly want their contact centers to become profit centers are making it as easy as possible for their customers to find their organizations through Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, bulletin boards, and their own blogs. Additionally, these same companies are monitoring their social media channels 24/7, so they can quickly mitigate damage from criticism or take advantage of new business opportunities or kudos.
Organizations that recognize the value of contact center agents and employ the latest multi-channel contact center technologies and strategies to support their agents and customers are the ones that demonstrate they understand the value of creating a positive customer experience, which was, is, and always will be the ultimate litmus test as to whether a contact center is an expense or an asset.
Author John Cray is the Director of Marketing and Product Management for Zeacom (www.zeacom.com), an Enghouse Interactive Company and leading provider of multi-channel contact center and business process automation solutions.