Here, the results of a nationwide survey of customer support professionals.
Posted Aug 1, 2006
Although customer service organizations are an integral part of operating a business, few stop to think about the costs involved with all of the phone calls, emails, servers, downloads, and personnel that it takes to support customers every day. Due to this inattention and a lack of standard measurement methods, many support managers have few ways of determining what they should be spending, and have difficulty making the necessary adjustments to their operations that would enable them to save significantly or reallocate budgets to more productive methods of support.
Based on the findings of "Where Are Your Support Dollars Going?" a nationwide survey conducted in March of large customer support organizations (16 or more customer service representatives (CSRs) and small (15 or fewer CSRs), what support managers don't know about these costs can hurt them.
People Are a Great Asset...And a Big Cost
Software, retail, healthcare, and customer support departments may be supporting very different end users and products, but when it comes to budgets, they share the same costs, and in most cases, the majority of this is going to personnel. These costs are associated with the hourly rate CSRs are paid, including salary, benefits, and related equipment and facilities. According to the survey results, the personnel costs for companies using a customer support solution, while still at 47 percent of budgets, are greatly reduced from the 64 percent that companies that do not have a solution in place spend.
Support Departments Use the Most Expensive Tools to Solve the Majority of Tickets
Did you know the average company has twice as many support requests entered through the phone as the Web, but spends over 15 times as much solving these issues? Many customer service departments offer users multiple options for submitting support requests, with the three main channels being telephone, email, and the Web. According to survey results, the most popular among these options are phone and email support, which are also the most expensive. The Association of Support Professionals published a survey, "The Economics of Online Support," revealing that the average cost of a support resolution by email is $28.57; phone costs $27.78, while a support resolution through the Web costs $3.75. When both large and small companies implemented a customer support solution the percentage of their Web-based support requests increased, ultimately saving them over $24 per support request, adding up to thousands of dollars a month. This is also related to the decrease in personnel costs that is a result of customers using self-service support tools, causing a reduction in inbound support loads.
Offer Innovative Customer Support Tools and Save Money
A Web-based, or hosted, software delivery method refers to the fact that these applications are distributed and accessed solely through the Web, rather than installed on a company's server. Although hosted solutions are still considered nontraditional by some, most companies that choose to implement this type of solution experience a reduction in costs. The deferred costs of not having to purchase hardware and software alone can add up to tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars, while the savings on system maintenance and administration are also sizeable. Gone are the days when an administrator spent hours trying to install a patch or perform database maintenance--these tasks are now completed by the solution provider.
Web self-service support is also becoming more of what customers expect. "Customer Self-Service Experience Improves with Cross-Channel Approach," a report authored by the Yankee Group, states that the number of Web self-service interactions is anticipated to increase by 86 percent through 2007, while live phone support is anticipated to decline by 18 percent during the same time period. In an economy where business is done 24x7 from multiple time zones, offering Web-based support empowers end users by enabling them to submit support requests and get status checks from any Web browser at any time. They no longer have to worry about being put on hold, losing an email among the hundreds of others they receive, or be concerned over receiving support after 5 p.m.; all of the support information they need is accessible to them whenever and wherever they need it. When you look at the costs associated with traditional phone and email support, and at customers expecting on-demand support, offering a Web self-service solution is only logical.
Duke Chung is CEO, president, and cofounder of Parature. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit www.parature.com
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