Magazine article CRM Magazine

6 Ways to Maximize Contact Center Profitability

Magazine article CRM Magazine

6 Ways to Maximize Contact Center Profitability

Article excerpt

iN THEORY, transforming a contact center into a profitable operation is a widely accepted and straightforward proposition: cost center + new processes and new technologies = profit center. In practice, the equation is tricky to execute, and only a few contact centers consistently generate large bottom-line sums. Contact center managers who fail this basic math test are more likely to see their functions farmed out along with other corporate cost centers that add little value to the organization.

"If cost-center transactions are purely tactical and contribute little to the organization aside from added nuisance or greater risk, senior executives are going to look longer and more closely at outsourcing the whole kit and caboodle," says Bill Durr, Blue Pumpkin chief evangelist. "It's just simple economics."

What follows are six strategies that companies are using to maximize contact center profitability while minimizing risk.

1. Communicate the Importance of Profitability

Mark Porter, COO of High Wire Networks (HWN), has a simple message for his workforce: Everyone is a call center agent.

The fast-growing telephony-services company considers its contact center, in which eight agents handle an average of 2,500 contacts each month, the "single most essential component of our corporation," Porter says. HWN installs and maintains voice and data systems and structured cabling throughout the United States for Avaya, NEC, Nortel, and Octel product lines. Service and maintenance comprise the vast majority of HWN's revenue.

When a customer calls or emails, agents must first determine if the service request is under warranty. If so, it's not billed; if not, the moves, adds, or changes (MACs), scheduled or emergency systems maintenance, or other time-and-materials jobs qualify as revenue.

Porter credits the NetSuite system and the Nortel call center application his company uses with ensuring that each call they receive is correctly classified. The technologies have also helped transform the contact center from a cost center to a profit center.

HWN's call center revenue now exceeds $3 million per year. "I attribute the ability to scale to that revenue to NetSuite," Porter says. "Before that we were handling about $500,000 in maintenance and MAC revenue through our call center, and we were at our limit."

Porter also credits the hosted solution with providing limitless access to the contact center. When non--call center employees have a break from their sales, operational, and service responsibilities, they can log into the call center via IP telephony. Porter uses the high-speed connection in his hotel room to access the company's virtual private network and handle contact center calls and follow-up from his room.

He figures that capability pushes the field staff's productivity level above 100 percent. It also communicates the contact center's strategic importance to all of the company's 92 employees.

2. Think Outside the (Data) Box

TeleTech handles roughly 2.5 million customer interactions for the clients that trust all or part of their contact center needs to the customer management solutions company. For that reason, Rich Herbst, executive director of TeleTech OnDemand, believes that his company should know more about its clients' customers than even the clients themselves know.

Herbst and his team rely on highly automated real-time analytics from the Sigma Dynamics solution TeleTech uses to "manage overall customer profitability, so that we're not just a call center vendor, [but a] client partner in managing end-to-end customer relationships."

In one case, for example, TeleTech supplements data from a healthcare client's CRM system with information from the company's claims and customer-payment databases. After slicing and dicing all three sets of data, TeleTech identified which healthcare providers (one set of the client's customers) and which types of calls were responsible for the highest volume of calls to the contact center, so the client could address those issues, and in turn, reduce calls and cost. …

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