E-Handbook:

Contact center roles shift from cost center to profit center

Good CX brings many happy returns on investments

Call centers have been evolving into all-encompassing customer experience contact centers for some time due to technological strides in AI, analytics, the cloud, CRM software and unified platforms. Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck and diminished face-to-face customer service, contact center roles and digital channels have shifted into hyperdrive for online and mobile customers.

But with increased remote customer activity can come greater exposure of a contact center's warts -- further exacerbated by the sudden migration of contact center agents to remote workspaces. Customers still have problems with long wait times, multiple call transfers and chatbots. That seems to be borne out in Forrester Research yearly surveys of more than 100,000 consumers that showed little or no improvement in "OK" and "good" experiences over a 2017 to 2019 period and no "excellent" experiences. Technology can smooth and widen contact center operations, but its greater application can be seen in personalizing a customer's experience at the point of contact.

In Forrester's 2019 "State of Customer Experience Maturity Online Survey," 45% of CX professionals reported that executives at their companies said "CX is important but don't act accordingly." Perhaps decision makers expect a more convincing ROI story that tangibly demonstrates how investments in better customer experiences can increase revenues and lower operating costs.

"Customer experience professionals often struggle to show how their efforts will produce business results," acknowledged Forrester in its 2020 report "Capturing the ROI of CX transformation." Failure to do so is not an option. "When their efforts fail," the report added, "requests for funding hit a wall, projects stall out and CX pros may find themselves out of a job. To avoid that fate, create business cases for your initiatives -- especially large-scale CX transformation efforts that come with big price tags."

To win C-level support, Forrester advises not to lead with a budget request. Instead, the research firm proposes this formula: We intend to transform our customer experience to increase customer-generated revenue while reducing customer-related expense, which will bring $X of incremental benefit, at a cost of $Y, for an ROI of Z%.

This handbook helps fill in those XYZs by examining the importance of metrics in analyzing contact center roles and their contribution to a personalized customer experience and bottom-line profits. We look at key performance indicators like net promoter scores and average handling times as well as support costs associated with per-agent spending.

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