Transforming Your Call Center into a Revenue Generator
Call centers are no longer being seen as simply a means of resolving customer issues and are being recognized as their potential as revenue generating entities.
Some 69 percent of strategic decision makers within both UK and US in-house call centers believe they are "business critical revenue generators", according to a study conducted by Loudhouse Research.
One of the key reasons behind this focus on creating income from inbound calls was said to be the "diminishing returns" being seen from marketing activities, as consumers increasingly choose to opt out of receiving promotional materials. The continuing hangover from the recession which still dogs many companies is another imperative.
But for call centers to achieve their potential as revenue generators a cultural shift is required to take place, allowing agents to move on from acting simply as problem solvers to effective salespeople.
The Relationship between Customer Service and Sales
Good customer service is a key driver in a consumer making a purchase decision, and something revenue generating call centers must be highly attuned to.
Agents must ensure they have dealt with the initial query that sparked the inbound call before moving on to up-sell or cross-sell, to make the customer feel like they are being listened to.
"The reps need to re-engage the customer just long enough to clearly and quickly deliver the offer. The level of service the rep provided during the initial service call substantially influences their ability to re-engage a customer and deliver the offer," a report by Maritz Research stated.
More than 80 percent of customers who were happy with the rep's performance were said to be willing to listen to the agent's offer, compared to just 53 per cent of those who were dissatisfied.
In a breakdown of drivers for listening, Martiz Research found agent performance was top priority, followed by overall satisfaction with the call center, and overall satisfaction with the company.
However, according to the study by Loudhouse Research, 86 percent of strategic decision makers in call centers do not think their agents currently have the skills required to meet their obligations in terms of up-selling and cross selling.
Customer service, while vital, will not be enough to increase the revenue coming in through a call center alone.
The Reader's Digest Association (RDA) saw significant improvements in its agents' revenue per minute (RPM) figures after implementing an incentive scheme which was said to enjoy employees' attention and produce easily quantifiable results.
The company installed a web-based software system, accompanied by incentive consultation, across five of its business locations and units. According to Snowfly, which provided the solution, results were witnessed in two weeks and RPM rose while no increase was seen in the average call time.
Within 28 weeks, RDA reportedly saw a 69 percent rise in agent RPM, thanks to the incentive programme.
Real-time prompts are another feature which could help agents increase the revenue they generate through the call center.
Figures published in the Customer Insight Research 2010 by Loudhouse Research suggested customers are more than twice as likely to take up a new offer in a call center which uses real-time prompts.
Kieran Kilmartin, group marketing director at Portrait Software, said: "The research shows real-time prompts enable a truly individual interaction with each and every customer even if you have hundreds of thousands of customers," which in turn is more likely to help agents achieve an up-sell or cross-sell.
The Royal Automobile Club of Queensland Australia(RACQ) is one of the organisations which have recently decided to invest in real-time prompts, and is optimistic about their use.
John Devaney, executive manager of marketing at RACQ, says, "Real-time prompts will allow our frontline staff, in the inbound call center and elsewhere, to follow a best next action path that delivers better service for each of our 1.2 million members."