3 Reasons Your In-House Contact Center Costs Are Out of Whack

Category: General
Posted by: George Simons on February 24, 2014
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contact-center-costsYou’re not alone if your most recent audit shows that you are on the verge of not meeting your budget. Where do you start your analysis? Why are your costs over budget?

Managing a contact center operation successfully requires the most up-to-date knowledge, a wide range of diverse skills and a team of dedicated professionals who are able to work under pressure. And, let’s face it, it is hard to be good at everything and turn a complex set of call center processes into a highly productive and flexible living entity.

Our experience suggests that there are three reasons that most in-house contact centers costs are over budget.



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1. Low front-line labor productivity

Front-line labor takes up 90% of the contact center labor budget and two-thirds to three-fourths of the overall operating budget, so the onset of even slight inefficiency often leads to overstaffing and increased total labor costs.

The following aspects are usually the main reasons for loss of productivity (and added costs):

  • Imbalanced staffing ratio. Full time employees, if not kept productive, may be costly.  It is important to find the right mix of full time, part time and flex time staff.
  • Low attendance – high levels of employee absenteeism hurt productivity and morale.
  • Low performance due to insufficient knowledge/training and consistency between agents.
  • Lack of employee empowerment – too much supervisor intervention or approval is required for consistent performance.
  • Too much firefighting on the front lines – supervisors are “reactionary” to changing call volumes and resource needs, versus being proactive with changing floor requirements.
  • No established process for call quality monitoring and compliance providing for higher-quality customer interactions and more effective coaching.

 

2. Time and cost-consuming efforts to leverage contact center technology

Forrester reports omni-channel customer experience to be one of the top customer service trends in 2014. Today, many customers are expecting to find multi-channel service and support from the brands they purchase products and services from.

Naturally, organizations around the world and their contact centers are starting to pick up on this trend. For example, many companies are trying to integrate new popular social care channels, such as live chat, content moderation and social media, into their workflow and technology environments. A Global Contact Center Survey by Deloitte Consulting reveals that today only 33% of contact centers provide social media contact channels. And cost is a major factor.

  • In addition to paying for seat licenses, sourcing a new software suite includes soft costs – software evaluation, testing, and negotiation. A large effort is required to make a full transition from an old application suit to a new one and retrain your staff to use the new technology.
  • Implementation and support of new software oftentimes requires additional technical personnel with the necessary skillset(s). Alternatively, if contact center management decides to utilize existing human resources, this often leads to increased labor hours for implementation, as well as time required for troubleshooting and attuning its performance to the current environment.
  • Training is one of the most costly factors in contact center costs. New tools requires new training programs and it’s not about doing it, but how you do it. This will involve not only an introduction into the interface and navigating the interface, but also the ins-and-outs using the tool within a customer workflow. Management needs to be trained on administering the software – interpreting the metrics, reporting, and quality monitoring. All this converts into hours of developing and running an efficient training program, which eats up a good portion of your resources and budget.

 




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3. Inefficient business processes

A contact center’s internal processesstrongly influence the quality of customer interactions. An effective process is designed to utilize all the elements of a call center’s operation with maximum productivity. If one link in the chain is weak or broken, the whole chain (process) is compromised.

The costs of ineffective business processes include:

  • Inability to adapt to seasonal fluctuations or unpredicted spikes in workload volume.
  • Costly capital expenditures, idle infrastructure, poor facilities management
  • Overstaffing or understaffing, imbalanced supervisor-to-agent ratio
  • Lack of workforce optimization, poorly implemented and expensive training programs, high employee turnover rate
  • Call-handling inefficiencies – failure to achieve first-call resolution, track and report results, proactively serve the customer to prevent repeat issues

Any single one of these processes has its share in driving up your in-house contact center’s costs. Evaluating your current call center strategy will help you to come up with new ideas on how to reduce your total costs and achieve actual, measurable savings.

Identifying productivity leaks as they arise creates almost immediate opportunities for improvement. If you are not certain that your contact center’s core operations are mature enough to instantly react to the changing business environment, consumer and employee expectations and technology trends, you always have an option to hand over these tasks to an outsourced contact center partner. They can save you money without sacrificing quality of customer service.

If you are ready for such a change, we encourage you to reach out to us. One of our experts can share ways we’ve helped other organizations manage their contact center costs more effectively.





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