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Call Center: What's the Point?

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Brian Cantor

The following is an excerpt from Call Center IQ's upcoming Executive Report on Call Center Performance, Operations and Technology. Set to be released in conjunction with the 15th Annual Call Center Week, which runs from June 9-13, the complimentary report investigates the state of today's call center operations, business' means of driving call center performance, strategies for boosting agent morale and productivity and best practices for implementing and optimizing call center technology. Fueled by comprehensive, proprietary research and colored by analysis from a faculty of call center experts, it will be the most valuable customer management report ever released.

Knowledge of how businesses are constructing their call center infrastructure provides a degree of context for understanding operational limitations. Knowledge of where businesses offer service provides a degree of context for understanding customer experience limitations.

But in order to appreciate the magnitude of those limitations, one needs to understand the fundamental objectives of today’s call centers. He also requires knowledge of the extent to which businesses are committed to fulfilling those objectives.

According to respondents, customer satisfaction trumps cost minimization and revenue generation as the most important call center objective. 44% of businesses define driving customer satisfaction as their call center’s primary focus; only 27% most notably focus on reducing the cost of customer engagements.

12% believe revenue generation through customer acquisition is the call center’s primary focus. Of the other 13% that recognize revenue generation as the paramount objective, 9% believe it should most notably come from customer retention, while 4% are most concerned with up-selling and cross-selling existing customers.

A top priority for 27% of call centers and a lingering concern for virtually all business units, cost remains a prominent factor in the contemporary customer management environment. The idea that businesses are now throwing cost concerns to the wind when developing customer service strategies is simply not one rooted in accuracy or reality.

That 73% of businesses are more concerned with the value generated by their call centers does, however, underscore the dissolution of the cost center stigma. Contemporary businesses see their call centers as gateways to improved customer relationships and greater revenue. They do not view them as sources of unwanted cost within which less is always more.

And by rating customer satisfaction as the most paramount call center objective, businesses are declaring that while cost is always relevant and significant, it cannot be the source of final judgment on a customer service strategy.

A call center investment is not inherently bad if it is costly. It is, however, fundamentally inferior if it does not favorably contribute to customer satisfaction levels.

As businesses consider strategies for achieving their paramount, customer-centric and value-centric call center objectives, they are more likely to increase than decrease budget.

37% of businesses will increase their customer service spending over the next 6-18 months. 38% will make no changes, while only 25% will enforce budgetary reductions.

Knowledge of how call centers are structured, how deeply they extend into different media, how they define success and how serious they are about achieving that success provides the requisite backdrop for understanding how they are managing performance, developing agents, assessing quality and optimizing technology.