• May 18, 2005
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Converting Call Centers Into Cash Centers--A $64,000 Question

Most executives have identified revenue generation as an important objective in the call center, but ways to achieve this goal are not aligned, according to a new study by Beagle Research. The survey, "Adding Sales to the Call Center Agenda," was conducted this past March. Beagle Research surveyed 126 call center executives at Global 2000 companies about developing a sales culture in the call center. According to the research, the majority of large organizations seeking new ways to boost revenues are creating more profitable customer-to-call center interactions. While developing revenue generation is top-of-mind, potential solutions were scattered, according to Denis Pombriant, founder and managing principal of the Beagle Research Group. An overwhelming 47 percent stated training and development are most important, which was followed by 13 percent choosing incentive compensation, another 13 percent selecting organization, and 11 percent picking technology as the most important approaches to increasing revenue. Other less popular approaches include improving the process and hiring. "How to turn a call center into a revenue generating center is the $64,000 question," Pombriant says. "It boils down to analysis. A company needs to identify what they want to change and compare their methods for changing it to industry needs." The survey also revealed that the definition of selling in the call center does not differ from that of a field sales force, with capturing new accounts, increasing wallet share, and converting customers from a competitor representing the majority of responses. Pombriant maintains it is important for call center executives to define their company's mission in the call center both in terms of the possibilities inherent in the job of the call center agent, as well as in terms of what the organization needs. Only half the organizations surveyed said they set clear revenue goals for agents, but nearly 70 percent say they measure sales results. "Without a clear definition of selling, you can't set clear goals or measure against them," Pombriant says. "This creates mixed messages for a company's call center agents in terms of what their goals are." The survey data also showed a lack of understanding for the importance of incentive compensation. Only 19 percent of the respondents said they use cash incentives to motivate call center agents to make sales targets, though when non-monetary awards are factored in, the portion that use incentives nears 70 percent. This trend is in contradiction to universally established sales methods where sales people are given incentives, managed, and measured. "The call center is moving," Pombriant says, "from a place for an organization to provide service and avoid cost by reducing the price of payments to an organization that's responsible for the company's greatest asset, both keeping them happy and generating revenue from them." Related articles: The Call Light's On-Is Anyone Home?
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