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Contact Centers Get No Respect: Make Them Strategic Business Hubs

First and foremost, I’d like to open 2021 by extending an immense amount of gratitude to every single person who tuned in for an episode of “Customer Experience in the Cloud” as we got it off the ground down the stretch in 2020.

Promotion for 'Customer Experience in the Cloud' LinkedIn live stream series 

And now, new year, new topical mini-series! For the next six episodes or so, we’re going to cover how contact centers can prove their value as (or in some cases, transform into) the strategic hub of your business.

Which is to say that, today, they aren’t perceived that way or often taken seriously as a profit center rather than a cost center. As the legendary Rodney Dangerfield said it best, “[We] get no respect.”

Consider the results of this survey conducted by our friends over at Call Centre Helper:

Chart showing perceptions of the contact center by the rest of the business 

Nearly 30 percent of business leaders see the contact center as a value-less cost center that the organization has to pour money into?

And 14 percent call it a necessary evil? Really…evil?!

3 percent even going so far as to claim that their contact center is a nuisance?

That’s not a great outlook. But perception isn’t always the same as reality, thankfully. You just have to know how to operate and position the contact center as a strategic business hub.

Delivering value to the organization

Few would argue that the customer journey supports the business strategically and directly impacts revenue. The contact center is the customer’s central lifeline to your brand, and if you don’t deliver a premier customer journey through your contact center, they’ll drop you like a New Year’s resolution. In fact, a third of customers would stop doing business with a brand they loved after just one poor experience.

On the flipside, your contact center agents have the opportunity to increase customer lifetime value (CLV) and encourage organic growth from the net effect of every interaction. In this pandemic-challenged day and age, beyond your website, the contact center may be the only touchpoint a customer ever has with your brand.

Whether you’re an insurance firm providing a coverage quote, a retailer helping a customer complete a purchase or a utilities company quelling a customer’s technical issue that has them teetering on the precipice of dropping service, the contact center agents who address customer issues have the power to impact revenue and brand loyalty. As such, executives should consider their contact center to be a long-term, revenue-generating, sustainable investment in the current and future growth of their organization.

To successfully deliver value to the business, here are some pointers that I covered in more depth during this week’s live stream:

  • Focus on quality, not speed.
  • Ensure 24/7 customer service availability.
  • Prioritize joined-up service across channels.
  • Anticipate the customer’s needs.
  • Stop viewing the customer as transactional; make the human connection, even if that means providing a path to bypass automation.

The 3 key takeaways

So now that the organization is deriving value from the contact center, how do you demonstrate that value? Here are three takeaways that should help:

  1. Define the economic value of your contact center — How much revenue are you generating (or saving) for the business? How have you lessened your cost to serve over time using technology?
  2. Learn to build business models that demonstrate impact on the broader organization’s success — Frankly, no one cares what you do for the sake of contact center success. Everyone cares about what you do for the sake of the broader business’ success.
  3. Move your contact center to the cloud — Full stop. Save on operational costs and reinvest a portion of that money in new technologies — including AI, chatbots, speech analytics and contact analytics — that improve customer and agent experiences rather than inhibit them.

Not only is your job to provide excellent service to the customer, but it’s also to serve as an advocate for the contact center to demonstrate its value to the broader business, so that you can garner the investment you need to deploy technologies that compound said value. In upcoming episodes, we’ll dive into some of those integral and emergent technologies and related cost/benefit analysis, to help you command the respect you deserve.

For more insights, watch the full recent LinkedIn live stream episode, “Contact Centers Get No Respect: Make Them Strategic Business Hubs.”

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.