What do contact center managers need to generate revenue? New tools and technologies.
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Contact centers will be one of the most important revenue-generating departments in most enterprises within eight to 10 years. The reason is simple: If people-intensive contact centers continue to be a substantial drain on enterprise profits and do not significantly contribute on the revenue side, CEOs will use self-service technologies to automate contact center activities as much as possible and will eliminate or outsource most of the remaining functions.
Senior executives have clearly communicated their impatience with cost-oriented contact centers during the past four to five years. They have started to address what they see as the contact center cost problem by moving activities to offshore locations, hoping to reduce expenses by 25 percent to 50 percent. Of course, corporate decision-makers consider contact centers important, or they would have eliminated these departments entirely in previous rounds of cost cutting. Now, however, the pressure is on for contact center managers to evolve their reactive, cost-oriented organizations into proactive, engaged, real-time revenue generators.
Contact center managers must change their goals, culture, processes, and staff mind-sets to alter the role of the contact center and its contribution to the enterprise. Since 2000 vendors have been developing analytical applications to improve the performance of contact centers and their agents. Some of these tools, such as quality assurance, surveying, and performance management, were developed by workforce optimization vendors to further expand value to the enterprise. Other applications, such as predictive analytics and customer value analytics, have been developed by vendors with strong marketing orientations that recognize the vast potential benefits of these apps for contact centers. Additionally, speech analytics and real-time analytics vendors found a large commercial niche for a solution that had previously been developed for government, security, and military purposes.
Here's what each of these applications can do for a contact center:
Predictive analytics use predictive algorithms to identify the most appropriate offer for each customer. They eliminate the guesswork in identifying the best cross- or upsell opportunities.
Speech analytics apps take recorded phone conversations, structure the unstructured content, and then identify customer needs, wants, insights, and the actions to take.
Real-time analytics are apps that structure the unstructured text in captured customer emails, faxes, chat sessions, or other text-based transactions to identify customer needs, wants, and insights.
Quality scores are apps that tie agent quality scores back into the day-to-day activities and performance of the contact center.
Customer feedback surveying applications capture and measure customer satisfaction with a company's products and service.
Performance management apps improve the performance of the contact center by aligning its goals with those of the enterprise. They are also used to produce dashboards and scorecards that measure the performance of every individual, group, or site in the contact center.
Customer-value analytics apps measure and communicate the value of each and every caller. They are finally finding their way into the contact center.
As people-intensive organizations, contact centers will always face the departmental challenge of maintaining high productivity standards. Today, however, contact centers are poised to do so much more. Powerful and effective analytical applications have emerged that provide the tools to help contact centers contribute significantly to enterprise goals by generating revenue and enhancing and extending customer relationships. It is time for contact centers to start focusing on the revenue side of the profitability equation.
Donna Fluss is founder and president of DMG Consulting LLC, a firm specializing in customer-focused business strategy, operations, and technology services. Contact her at email@example.com.
Enterprise megavendor Oracle offers a taste of its social networking-inspired on-demand applications at the Enterprise 2.0 conference.
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