Inefficiencies Lead to Contact Center Overspending

Customer care doesn't come cheap. Enkata Technologies, which provides software that models and analyzes contact centers, claims that contact center inefficiencies account for up to 30 percent of business's annual customer care expenses. That conclusion is based on research conducted by Enkata, which recently surveyed 177 senior executives, call center managers and IT managers across a variety of industries including communications, financial services, and healthcare insurance. Twenty-six percent of the survey respondents stated that repeat contacts, or customer issues that are not resolved during the first contact, are the largest unnecessary drain of contact center resources. Multiple calls and long email exchanges about the same issue contribute to high customer-care costs, and negatively impact customer satisfaction levels, the survey shows. Christopher Fletcher, vice president and research director at Aberdeen Group, claims the current debate in call centers is efficiency versus effectiveness. "Many organizations are focused on reducing the number of agents by using Web-base support, email, and chat. Then those groups want to reduce call times, hold times, most standard efficiencies," Fletcher says. "But the reality is that if an agent stays on a little longer to provide more service and resolve issues on the first call, it's better for the business and the customer." Thirteen percent of those surveyed also said callers' requests for information that should have been easily accessed via other channels (Web page, automated phone messages, etc.), and interactions that passed through multiple contact center personnel (cited by 12 percent of respondents) are also major financial drains. However, the research also revealed that one fourth of contact center executives and managers didn't know the cause of the overspending. Michael Chen, president and CEO of Enkata, says companies not only need to pinpoint the number of repeat contacts a customer makes, but also identify why the customer is making these contacts in the first place. "This will enable companies to implement focused improvement efforts, resulting in both increased customer satisfaction and reduced costs," Chen says. Cutting costs without alienating customers is the key. In a recent destionatoncrm.com Viewpoint column, Lior Arussy, president of Strativity Group, writes, "Corporations view customer service as a cost of doing business. As such they try to minimize the cost and run it in the most efficient way. The result is call centers with rigid rules and no power to resolve problems, which leads to the accelerated deterioration of customers' loyalty and commitment. Without admitting it, companies are asserting the efficiency at the expense of the customer."
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