How paying attention to operational costing models can save organisations millions and transform operations and efficiencies
When it comes to the contact centre, there are several cost touchpoints that are important. The first is the realisation that the contact centre itself is a powerful tool when it comes to differentiation, customer experiences and customer retention. As McKinsey points out, it’s the right contact centre strategy that will align operational excellence with customer engagement to deliver value, and improve the bottom line. It is also the right focus that will help the organisation to maximise its investment value into the contact centre, thereby achieving measurable savings while improving operational capabilities. This is what Rod Jones, Industry Analyst and Callbi Brand Ambassador at Callbi, believes can shift the contact centre from weighty cost centre and grudge spend to a growth centre that drives measurable revenue contributions, identification of strategic and tactical insights and makes good financial sense.
“Contact centre cost modelling in the generic sense is something of a tragedy,” he adds. “Very few operations know their cost-per-interaction types and the impact of different interaction handling times, or how different interaction types and different channels influence these costs and parameters. For example, in the financial services industry, a typical sales call can be up to 45 minutes as it requires hands-on time with the customer and stringent compliance protocols and procedures, whereas a simple balance enquiry can take only a few seconds. And both these metrics can fundamentally impact costs.”
The metrics that determine contact centre costing models differ from sector to situation, but few companies have built a base of costing models, and this can be invaluable with measurable savings and the all-important ROI! For example, a call in a reasonably well-run call centre can cost between R3 and R10 per minute if all expenses are taken into account. Some incredibly badly run and managed contact centre costs have been known to run as high as R40 per minute. If these costs are spread over a large 1,000 seat contact centre with an average handling time of four minutes per interaction, and each agent is handling around 40 calls per day, then if you take 15 seconds off per interaction or call, then the business is saving 10, 000 minutes every day. At an operational cost of R3 per minute, at the minimum, that’s saving of R30, 000 a day, R660, 000 per month, or R7.9 million a year.
“If a call costs as much as R10 per minute and you save 10% of that across 500 call centre agents, you’re going to save a massive amount of money,” says Jones. “These numbers really underscore the importance of granular-level cost modelling and how establishing costs, right down to the last second, can change contact centre perceptions. Often perceived as a reluctantly funded and expensive line item, a contact centre that’s more efficient and saves money is always going to be a win for the business.”
So, if these are the savings, then the next question should be – how can the contact centre achieve these savings? One of the answers is the deployment of speech analytics.
Speech analytics technologies have come a long way over the past few years. Today’s solutions are powered by intelligence, data and analytics, and they can scan every, single call made in the contact centre. Sampling of calls is no longer limited to a few randomly selected samples due to manpower or time restrictions, now companies can dig deep into all calls made by the contact centre to identify powerful insights; to unpack challenges, discover unexpected problems and find smart ways of smoothing over the bumps in the road and to develop smart interventions to drive operational performance and all manner of desirable business outcomes
“For example, using speech analytics, the business can identify the drivers for long average handling times (AHT) and look at the different factors that influence the time of these calls,” says Jones. “Some sectors, such as insurance, will require more extensive engagements as the agents have to explain the policy, set up the bank details, and read out the compliance statements. But even these calls can be streamlined using analytics to determine which agents are moving through the content too quickly, which are taking too long to explain certain portions of the call, or where training could improve the overall experience for both agent and caller. A similar approach allows management to identify the attributes of the operation’s most successful agents and to replicate these across the floor through training and coaching.”
Once the business has established the issues impacting on contact centre efficiency, it can then take relevant steps to resolving them. This can either be through training and coaching, or by providing rich and accessible knowledge management systems. The agents can then use the training to streamline their performance and call lengths, and they can use the knowledge centre to access information for customers at speed.
“If your agents are putting people on hold to find information, they could be adding to the expense sheet, but if they can access this information at speed, then they can save many millions a year,” concludes Jones. “Seconds saved manifest as money, and now, with speech analytics from platforms such as Callbi, it’s possible to find the problems and remedy them really quickly, delivering fast return on investment and a better bottom line.”