Stop me if this sounds familiar

The CEO or CFO calls you into their office. It turns out that next year’s contact center budget is dropping by 10 percent — oh, and by the way, the customer base is projected to grow by 10 percent. You point out that you’re already stretched a little thin (a massive understatement). They say they understand that. “Just get it done.”

For many CX leaders, this conversation is pretty much an annual ritual — it certainly was for me — and never an easy one. But we figure out how to do more with less, quarter after quarter, year after year. We find an answer to that all-important question: How are you contributing to percent profit growth?

In the contact center world, it all comes down to minimizing operational costs. And that means maximizing agent efficiency, because as every contact center director knows, personnel costs — not facilities or equipment or software — make up the biggest slice of the contact center budget pie by far (between 70 to 80 percent, in my experience). Agent training and retention initiatives can only take you so far. Demanding shorter and shorter call times will kill your customer experience, leading to missed revenue. Meanwhile, piling on overtime will eventually lead to agent attrition that costs you more money than you saved.

At the end of the day, the only way to provide great service and personalized connections to more customers with fewer agents is through smart investments in the right technologies. Now more than ever, that means contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS).

Spending money to save money

CCaaS solutions — through unified interchannel orchestration, self-service tools, machine learning-powered knowledge bases, coaching, chatbots and more — enable agents to handle more interactions in less time. So, not only is CCaaS key to delivering the kind of channelless CX strategy and effortless experience we’ve been talking about in recent episodes, it’s also key to satisfying our core commitment to the business. Namely? Hitting our numbers and contributing to percent profit growth.

As we wrap up our current mini-series here on “Customer Experience in the Cloud,” we’re pivoting from the what (contact center must-haves) to the how. How do you build a successful business case for CCaaS? How do you prove to everyone from IT to finance to the CEO’s office (not to mention to yourself) that smart investments in CCaaS can save your contact centers money, in addition to benefiting the customer experience?

Business case basics

Whether you’re doing your own personal research into the viability of a new solution or putting together a formal business case, here are a few principles to keep in mind:

Know your ROI

The value of exceptional CX is huge, but hard to quantify. It comes down to meeting those seemingly impossible budgetary objectives your CFO stuck you with, and your ability to demonstrate how a new CCaaS solution is going to help you do it. 

This is your North Star: Quantifying how CCaaS will help you serve more customers with fewer agents. How will it help you shift to a more cost-efficient channel mix? How will it maximize first call resolution (FCR) and minimize call times? Ultimately, how will it improve agent efficiency and allow for lower headcount without sacrificing customer service quality? Find answers to these questions, and put numbers to them. 

Invest in the research 

Building a business case takes time. Trying to take shortcuts and failing to do due diligence are classic pitfalls. So do some serious Googling. Watch YouTube videos. Find the folks in finance with the proverbial pocket protectors, and spend some time picking their brains. Dig up as much intel as you can — the good, the bad and the ugly.

Most CX leaders who spearhead successful CCaaS transformations spend months before they make the big pitch. They work with IT to understand technical requirements and with finance to identify potential costs associated with the new solution. They thoroughly investigate alternatives and tap their networks to see what kind of results their peers have reaped from similar implementations.

Present multiple options

Once you’ve completed your homework and are ready to walk into the office of your CEO or CFO, do what any smart military adviser or ad agency would do before presenting a plan of action: Prepare multiple options, and be ready to talk about each one in-depth. 

If you already have your heart set on a particular solution, that’s all the more reason to have alternatives prepared to present. By providing multiple alternatives, you build credibility that you’ve done an objective, comprehensive assessment.

The value of CCaaS in action

The ultimate financial value of CCaaS boils down to its impact on two areas: cost to serve and overall technology spend. This is where you want to focus your energy in the research phase.

You might be tempted to jump straight into comparing price tags — and we will be diving into TCO spreadsheets in our next episode and post — but remember, you’re spending 70 to 80 percent of your total budget not on contact center software solutions but on personnel. So again, that’s where you want to start: How can CCaaS help agents serve customers more efficiently? Once you really start digging in on this question, it’s not uncommon to discover savings that make all other cost considerations relatively moot.

For example, we recently conducted an ROI study for a major utility company here in the U.K., where I’m currently based. In 2020, this company fielded 69,522 service and technical calls. And 13,904 of those calls (roughly 20 percent!) led to “truck roll” service calls, requiring technicians to drive out and provide service, with an extremely high cost to serve (around $100). 

But thanks to CCaaS features like improved self-service and video, which allowed agents to help customers adjust boilers and fix thermostats by pivoting seamlessly to video chat without anyone ever leaving the contact center or field facilities, the company was able to reduce the number of truck roll calls by 20 percent. This alone allowed them to save nearly $300,000, not to mention helped customers resolve issues much faster.

If you’re in the telecom or insurance industries, you could likely derive and demonstrate similar value from cutting back field service calls. Even if you’re not, reducing cost to serve is still at the heart of ROI for CCaaS investments. Make sure you understand your cost per contact, ideally across all channels. Here are some average figures from the U.S.:

Graph showing approximate cost per contact across multiple channels
Source: Contact Babel

If you’re spending $12 on every tech support call, improving FCR and shifting more volume over to web chat and self-service — which CCaaS solutions should help you do — is bound to make a substantive financial difference. In fact, you may very well find that the solution pays for itself.

The 3 key takeaways

In next week’s live stream, we’ll be continuing with part two of this topic, getting deeper into the technical and financial weeds. For now, here’s a refresher on the three key principles to keep in mind as you start building your CCaaS business case:

  1. Know your ROI
  2. Invest in the research
  3. Present multiple options

For more insights on this topic, watch the full LinkedIn live stream episode, “How to Build a CCaaS Business Case, Part 1: How Much Does it Cost to Spend Less?”

And for discussion of similar topics, tune in for the “Customer Experience in the Cloud” live stream series with Valur Svansson, every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. CT on the Lifesize LinkedIn page. To watch past episodes on-demand, visit our YouTube channel.