Originally published on LinkedIn by Bill Pieper, President of EPIC Connections

Being a contact center executive is a unique (and stressful) role. While contact centers provide service to customers, most are also service providers within their own organizations. In general, the executive team determines the budget, the marketing group owns the customer relationship, and it is up to the contact center to accommodate the needs, goals and objectives of these internal teams, as well as serve the customer. The internal teams rely on the contact center to continuously improve customer satisfaction, attain upselling goals and other KPIs, while also working to reduce operations costs—it’s a big ask.

The reality is that contact centers are also cost centers that are expensive to run and to maintain. To keep costs down, it is fairly common for executive teams to predict that call volumes will grow 50% in the next year, yet require staffing levels to remain flat. To continue to meet KPIs, maintain service levels, and absorb the additional volume, organizations must:

  • Find efficiencies in operations
  • Evaluate process changes to streamline the call flow and increase automated completion rates
  • Look for more self-service and automation opportunities to deflect call volumes
  • Consider additional technology upgrades (omnichannel, chatbots, etc.) to add new automation options

The catch in this scenario is that some organizations assume streamlining or purchasing new technology is a simple fix. Contact centers frequently need help to find efficiencies. It requires expertise to optimize processes, and necessitates a deep dive into daily operation, call flow metrics and existing technologies. Meeting internal expectations can be especially challenging if internal stakeholders are not aware that successfully designing efficient processes and contact flows is the primary driver for a quality customer experience. While technology and product enhancements are important tools that support the overall process and vision, in a contact center these technologies cannot simply be “bolted on” and performance enhancement will suddenly appear. Successful call centers require smart process design, the right technologies and experienced implementation to deliver optimal results.

 Setting the Groundwork for Success

With any kind of change, one of the first things to do is overcome the mindset of “we have always done it this way.” Finding efficiencies and selling them internally requires being up-to-date on industry best practices and technologies, then integrating these into a solution that maintains or improves the customer experience while being responsive to budget limitations. Information and expertise are critically important when optimizing or upgrading a call center, which is why many organizations bring in an experienced consulting team. Most organizations do not have the resources to hire in-house optimization experts or keep up with hundreds of new technologies and best practices. In fact, bringing in an outside expert generally brings credibility to internal discussions. Adding an experienced consultant with strategic and implementation knowledge ensures that you have cutting-edge solutions that incorporate industry best practices and enables you to keep your focus on overseeing your contact center.

Having worked with diverse contact centers for decades, the process of conducting analysis and crafting recommendations depends on the client’s unique goals and their desired customer experience. All contact center analysis should center around the customer interaction and experience. Before any of the data is considered, analysis should start with focus groups and watching agent interactions with various customers and systems. Many consultants do not take the time to become immersed in the contact center processes, and this is what makes all the difference. Having qualitative and quantitative data allows you to receive more nuanced findings on exactly how to make process design and contact flows more effective. This depth of knowledge is critical to selling your contact center project to upper management.

Proving an Internal Business Case

While reports and analysis are specific to each call center, there are three things most analysis reports contain that are crucial to making a successful internal business case. Selling costs to your executive team requires detailed analysis that proves a need as well as explains the costs and benefits they can expect from the investment. Here are three crucial items you should have in place to sell your business case:

1.) Reports and analysis. In addition to on-site call and process monitoring, look for reports with quantifiable data about your current operations and clear information on how your operation compares to other contact centers and best practices. This report should deliver useful data points that can illustrate the need for your contact center project. These detailed reports should include:

  • Benchmark analysis for all of your KPIs and how they compare to industry standards and best practices
  • Call monitoring analysis that details efficiency gaps as well as pain points in the customer experience
  • Process analysis that shows where you can streamline your business processes, as well as optimize how agents and customers interact with your systems

2.) Detailed recommendations.  This report can provide a roadmap for the process improvements, optimizations and technologies that will help you meet your goal, as well as the timeline for when these recommendations should be implemented.

3.) Financial impact analysis. This analysis should show your internal team the financial impact expected when the recommendations have been implemented. This is a crucial report that every contact center executive needs when pitching contact center upgrades to the executive and finance groups. This report gives you the data you need for a boardroom presentation that successfully establishes the need and the anticipated results.

A Case Study

A high-end services company did not feel it was delivering the level of service consistent with its brand image, so they requested an assessment of their contact center and call flow. We watched and listened to their contact center reps, analyzed the data and compared them to a comparable peer group performance. This showed the customer where they aligned with best practices and identified gaps, along with providing a roadmap on how to close them. By providing the client with an in-depth analysis, they successfully adopted EPIC’s recommendations allowing them to deliver the concierge service their customer expected and improve efficiency enough to absorb upcoming volume increases without increasing team staffing. You can also read more case study examples of improved metrics and operations other firms have garnered.

For more details on EPIC’s contact center analysis options, please contact me at bpieper@epicconnections.com.

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