Customer Service Automation Operational Excellence

How to Drive Contact Centre Cost Savings (Without Sacrificing Quality)

By Simon Brennan 24 April 2024

With operating costs soaring, savings and efficiency are at the top of agendas. This is particularly true for contact centres, which are traditionally a more expensive (albeit essential) element of the customer experience budget.

Here are 4 ways you can increase contact centre efficiency and drive meaningful cost savings – while safeguarding the quality of service you offer.

1. Anticipate customer needs (and address them with digital support)

The most obvious way to cut contact centre costs is to reduce call volumes – namely by offering digital self-service alternatives. However, the companies achieving the greatest savings here aren’t waiting for calls and then pushing people to digital channels (i.e., ‘Why not visit our website?’ or ‘Did you know we can help on WhatsApp?’)

The greatest opportunities come from anticipating customer needs and being both proactive and personal in terms of the self-service opportunities you offer. The best way to do this is to undertake a comprehensive customer journey mapping exercise. By delving into data showing how customers behave at each touchpoint, you can identify key moments for intervening and prevent a potential contact.

This insight will also highlight opportunities to increase personalisation and streamline journeys, boosting long-term loyalty and satisfaction rates as well as driving down overall customer experience costs.

2. Focus digital self-service around customer goals, not operational goals

Once you’ve identified moments where self-service will be useful, it’s time to work on making those digital experiences first class.

Digital self-service journeys fail when they’re centred around a business goal (like ‘reduce call volumes’) rather than a customer goal (like ‘get out-of-hours technical support). Whatever options you’re offering – from FAQs to chatbots to conversational IVR – keep user needs at the heart of your strategy. When you do, you’ll naturally increase both savings and satisfaction.

3. Make resolution – not call deflection – your goal

Customer service operational KPIs are often focused on removing a certain percentage of calls from a contact centre. However, while this strategy has the potential to free up agent time, fewer calls do not automatically lead to increased resolution rates or happier customers.

No matter how user-orientated your digital strategy is, there will always be times when customers need to call. So rather than focusing on call deflection, think of your contact centre as an ecosystem – one that combines the power of technology and the expertise of your agents to deliver an empathetic human experience.

If your customer has tried and failed to resolve their query via your website and chatbot, then trapping them in self-service will not work. They will find a way to get in touch – and when they do, they will be frustrated.

However, by using intelligence to identify your customer’s journey before they speak with your agent, you are able to prioritise the call – even adding a personalised, automated IVR message along the lines of: ‘Hey, we know you tried to contact us.’ Contrast this with making the customer wait for another 20 minutes before they finally get through to an agent, and it’s easy to see which approach will resolve the issue faster.

Therefore, first call resolution (FCR) rate is one of the most important metrics for driving cost savings, as repeat calls are a huge source of both inefficiency and customer frustration.

To boost FCR rates, you need to look at agent experience. This includes:

  • Providing agents with holistic customer data, including from all self-service touchpoints they’ve used
  • Arming them with training, including skills to help them make the most of data from digital self-service channels
  • Effective call routing so agents can focus their time on resolution rather than coordination

4. Automate key tasks

Overworked, stressed and dissatisfied agents are a big cause of inefficiency. There are a number of ways to tackle this, but one of the most effective is through automation.

There are several tools to help automate processes in your contact centre. For example, you can use:

  • IVR to route calls to the appropriate department or agent
  • Scheduling software to automate appointment bookings and reminders
  • Automation, such as via email or an SMS message, following a contact; in order to close the communication loop
  • Next Best Action, which uses AI and machine learning to direct customers to the most appropriate next step or offer based on where they are in their journey

By automating repetitive processes, it provides agents with more time to have impactful conversations, leading to more successful resolutions for customers. In turn, providing not just a better customer experience, but a more satisfying and rewarding outcome for agents.

Contact centres are a vital part of the customer experience

There will always be customers who want to speak to a human on the phone, and there’ll always be complex problems that require specialist, human service.

By looking at your customer experience holistically and knowing how and when to balance automation, AI and digital tools with friendly, personable human touches, you can significantly increase cost savings while fostering better experiences for customers and staff alike.

Read more in our whitepaper: From self-service to assisted service: How to Deliver Fast resolution while supporting your customers and contact centre agents.

See other posts by Simon Brennan

VP Sales

Simon Brennan has more than 14 years’ experience in the customer engagement sector, working with a wide variety of companies from tech start-ups to FTSE100 organisations. He is an expert in improving corporate customer communication, using technology to supercharge internal processes and deliver increased sales. Simon has a strong track record of successfully delivering cross-channel communication solutions for Engage Hub's corporate customer base, across multiple divisions within an organisation.

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