Monday, July 11, 2016

Profit Centre vs. Cost Centre

Profit Centre vs. Cost Centre

By: Turaj Seyrafiann 

July 11th 2016, 

Traditionally, call centers were managed in order to minimize the costs. The reason for that seemed simple and obvious; taking the calls and providing service on the phone appeared to be of no additional value to the organizations. The call centre activities were concentrated around providing the after sale services and at best would be considered as revenue protection (a necessary evil!!). It was many years later that organizations started realizing the value of their contact centers in not only protecting revenue but also in generating revenue from both new and existing customers. This new realization brought a new operational concept to the contact centre environment: “invest more in the centre in order to generate more revenue”!

In today’s environment, contact centers operate in two distinct modes: Profit Centre vs. Cost Centers. In a profit centre environment, the centre is operated similar to an independent or self sustaining business unit. The budgetary and operational decisions are taken with focus on generating revenue for the organization. Although revenue generation may not be the sole purpose of the centre, its management is responsible to operate – and perhaps expand – using internal funds. In a cost centre environment, the budgetary focus continues to be on minimizing the costs. Majority of the operational decisions will be scrutinize in order to find the lowest cost approach with less regard for their value to the centre or the organization. In fact in most cases it would be very difficult to quantify the value of these decisions in a tangible manner.

Which one of these two approaches is right for your centre? Well, the answer depends on the role of the centre within the organization (for example “Technical Help Desk” vs. “Sales & Services”) and the overall mandate for the centre. There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. In a revenue centre, the management has broader control over its internal decisions, but with the control comes broader responsibilities and accountability in making the right decisions. On the other hand, in a cost centre environment, there is constant pressure in maximizing the efficiency of the operation (which is not entirely a bad thing) while the management may feel they have none to very little control over decisions that would impact their centre.

The dividing line between the two approaches is not always clear but it is extremely important for the contact centre management to decide on an approach since it will determine and establish the contact centre priorities.

Contact The Taylor Reach Group, Inc. to assess which is the right approach for you!  


Turaj Seyrafiaan
is an experienced senior call center consultant working with The Taylor Reach Group, Inc. 



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5 Reasons New Call Centers Fail

5 Reasons New Call Centers Fail

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By: Colin Taylor

There can be many reasons for an organization to decide it is time to create a call center or contact center. Perhaps organic growth, a new product, service or acquisition is resulting in calls swamping the switchboard, or customers are tracking down the administrative offices to trace an order, or email volumes are surging and going unanswered?

By creating a call or contact center and being able to direct and centrally manage all call, emails, chats and other channels of communications organizations can realize both financial savings, but also improvements service quality and customer satisfaction. Whatever the cause once an organization has determine it is time to create a call center the next steps can be both daunting and critical.

There are more than 800 discrete tasks associated with building a call or contact center. Common Challenges include; Accurately sizing your call center requirements, Determining which channels to support, Identifying the telephony and technologies required to support your business activities, Mapping your business processes impacted by the call or contact center, Identification of the  integrations and links required to CRM or back office systems, The physical design of the call and workflows, Design of the physical call/contact center space, Creation of an organizational design and the people requirements. People are the largest cost in any call or contact center. People requirements include; job descriptions, Identification of skills required for each role, compensation modeling, quality management, workforce management (forecasting and scheduling) and the reporting required to provide the business with the knowledge to make data driven business decisions related to the call center / contact center and the customers they support.

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Taylor Reach assisted thousands of organizations to design, develop, implement and improve their call and contact centers. We have developed a proprietary approach to simplify and streamline what modeling and decision making around what can be a very arduous 6 to 12 month process, resulting in lower cost to implement and higher effectiveness and efficiency from day 1.

Common Fails

In supporting our clients in the development and implementation of new call centers and contact centers we have seen a number of challenges and decisions that can adversely impact the development process. These challenges include;

  • The lack of a cohesive vision of the role of the center. Is the center designed to be a profit center or a cost center? Is the purpose to deliver service that exceeds customer expectations or to be delivered a cost effectively as possible? Has the organization defined the desire customer experience when interacting with the center? Without a clear vision it is impossible to develop a center successfully. Fuzzy goals will produce fuzzy results.
  • Failure to realize that a call center or contact center is a unique and independent business service and must be properly researched and resourced in terms of both people and technologies.
    • The failure to complete proper research has led many organizations to select technologies that don’t meet the needs of the organization. Many solutions can appear on the surface to do what we want them to do, it is only be drilling down to the details of ‘how’ that we can often surface inadequacies. Research takes time, but it is time well invested versus selecting and installing a telephony or technology solution that doesn’t work or handicaps the organization going forward.
    • The failure to realize that a call or contact center requires staff with unique skills and competencies can result in the wrong people being on your contact center ‘bus’. Just because someone likes to talk doesn’t make them qualified to be an agent and a good salesperson isn’t always the best solution to lead a call center or inside sales team. Putting the wrong people in the wrong roles can handicap your center for months or years to come.
  • Failure to plan for growth or seasonality. Nothing is static, companies evolve over time and the reasons our customer contact us also evolve. Organic growth in contact volume may be linked to organizational growth, new markets, products or services. Increased focus on ecommerce can increase seasonal spiked and volumes. If the center planning has not taken these factors into consideration, you can find yourself without the ability to scale the center to support the customer needs. The solution to this can include center expansion and/or outsourcing. Both of these scenarios are disruptive and will reduce service quality while often increasing costs.
  • Failure to understand the labor market. In a call or contact center labor is the number one expense. Center also often have high staff turnover, both externally and internally. The location selected for the center must be sustainable and the labor costs and budgets need to be realistic. Failure to properly plan can lead to a center unable to secure the desired staff with the desired skills and/or force it to pay more than was budgeted for these roles.
  • Failure to seek guidance and expert advice. There is certainly a cost associated with retaining an expert to guide you through the process of designing and implementing a new call or contact center, but there is also a cost for not doing so. We have seen organizations select technologies only to have to remove and replace them within months, build and then shutter center locations due to staffing issues, deliver degraded services because their budget was incorrectly set in the first place and be hampered by center staff and leadership without the skills, competencies or training to excel in the role.

The preceding is by no means an exhaustive list of challenges associated with creating a new call center or contact center, but the examples cited above are some of the common failures, that can spell disaster for a new center initiative.

To find out more about The Taylor Reach Group or our services to support the development of a new call or contact center please check out our website http://ift.tt/1eYfdez review our case studies or contact us directly at info@thetaylorreachgroup.com  You can reach me directly at ctaylor@thetaylorreachgroup.com or by phone at 416-276-9068.

 

Colin Taylor is the CEO and Chief Chaos Officer at The Taylor Reach Group, Inc. a call center, contact center and customer experience consulting firm with offices in North America, Europe and Asia. Colin is an award winning industry pioneer with 40 years of call, contact center, customer experience and customer service experience. Colin has been regularly ranked as one of the top industry experts by leading industry publications.



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Monday, June 13, 2016

If Computers Could Read Your Customer Survey Responses…

If computers could read your customer survey responses …

Written by: Peter Elliot

 

            Well, it all depends what you mean by ‘read’. Such a small word that implies so much based upon context. If you told me you read this article, it means you understood it. When a machine ‘reads’ a file, it typically means load and scan. When a machine ‘reads’ a survey response, it scans it, and applies predetermined algorithms to the words. It cannot possibly understand the meaning of the text; if it did, it truly would be artificially intelligent             

            A few years ago I led a project to analyse the written interactions between support agents and customers to gain insights into the reason for the call. We set out to analyse a corpus of text-based interactions between customers and service personnel, derive the topics and themes of the discussions, and use them to understand more about the company’s products and why customers need to call regarding their use. Thanks to a great team of analysts and data scientists, we built a prototype and celebrated a 70% success rate. While this may not seem worth celebrating, in the world of text analysis it’s quite good.

             The methodology is complex, but here are the basic steps. The text is cleaned by removing words (stop words) that have less meaning, such as pronouns. Similar words, such as plurals, are merged by stemming (shortening) them. What is left is a dictionary of meaningful words which can then be analysed. Clustering algorithms then scan for words that commonly occur together, and these clusters are surfaced to a SME (Subject Matter Expert) who answers the question ‘ if you see these words together in a piece of text what topic would you think is being discussed?’ Their answer becomes a document tag, and common tags can be counted, and graphically displayed. To test the validity of the output, a sample of the tagged documents are read by a person who compares the tag to the text, and notes whether the tag correctly describes the subject. This is how we assessed our 70% success rate.

            We humans automatically make assumptions when reading text, and one of them is context. We know up front, for instance, whether the conversation is about a disk storage unit or a fridge freezer. Our SME automatically assumes this knowledge when assigning a tag. Machines know nothing about context unless we provide that information.
While the SME is asked to provide the understanding, the machine can apply it methodically to large numbers of conversations very quickly. The next nut to crack is to get the machine, based on past experience, to learn to apply the SME understanding and create the tag. One way this can be done is to record word clusters and associated tags in a database, and use a search algorithm, however it’s important to search by context to get meaningful results. A start has been made by some MiT researchers who have assembled an open database of word associations and topics called ConceptNet that can be looked up by other applications such as Luminoso, which uses ConceptNet to infer topics and themes without the need for human intervention.

            Companies such as Clarabridge and Medallia combine many of these techniques to turn pages of text, such as TripAdvisor comments, into quantifiable terms. Social media tools such as Attensity use similar tools to trawl through tweets and facebook posts to provide insights into what customers are saying on social media. Their products can also determine the sentiment of the conversation by looking for key words and other words they occur with. Bill Inmon’s Forest Rim Technology Textual ETL product uses a relational database to align the results of context, ontology, taxonomy and text processing techniques in a form that can feed directly to a visualisation tool such as Tableau or Qlikview.

             If computers could read and understand text, and tell us what the text was about, then they would be as intelligent as we are. Furthermore Stephen Hawking wrote “Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history”. Reading and understanding text is an essentially human characteristic. But there are many applications where it would be very useful to read text at machine speeds and be advised about the topics within it, and a 70% or higher success rate still provides useful insights that would otherwise require lengthy, tedious and maybe error-prone reading and notation by individuals, where the rate of return for the investment probably would not be acceptable.           

             My particular pursuit of text-reading technology arose from a desire to understand customers, why they call, and whether they are satisfied with the products they have bought. Consider the possibilities as this technology is enhanced, and that 70% success rate improves. In the Contact Centre we could obtain real-time customer satisfaction scores as our agent’s conversations are turned into text via text-to-speech applications, and analysed to indicate today’s satisfaction ratings and hot topics. Product issues could be immediately picked up and acted upon before other customers fall into the trap. Text Analysis technology is still very young, and as it develops has huge potential for improving Customer Experience measurement and analysis.

Peter Elliot is an experienced and professional consultant. Peter and his peers at The Taylor Reach Group, assist companies and organizations to overcome business, strategic and operational challenges in their call, contact center and customer facing organizations



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Using an Omni-Channel Strategy to Drive Customer Loyalty

How Leveraging an Omni-Channel Strategy Can Improve Your Customer Experience 

By: Colin Taylor

Recently, I was asked to give a presentation at the SCORE Conference in Boston on the importance and benefits of using an Omni-Channel strategy to drive customer loyalty. The event was a success and contained a lively discussion about how organizations can leverage an Omni-Channel, contact center design to drive customer loyalty, customer experience and customer centricity.

Omni-Channel can certainly be a game changer for contact centers. Using this approach, it can;

· Deliver consistent service regardless of channel of interaction,

· Support differentiated service for different customer segments and different customer journeys,

· Be a highly effective tool to support CX, customer centricity, customer satisfaction, retention and loyalty.

However according to research today, less than 1% of all organizations have deployed Omni-Channel.  A much more common approach is using Multi-Channel, which more than 40% of contact centers have deployed with 23% stating that they are executing well. Some confuse or combine Multi-Channel and Omni-Channel, so perhaps a look at their definitions would help.
I would define each as follows;

Multi-Channel is the use of multiple channels (calls, chat, email, web, etc.) to provide service to customers. In practice, these conversations occur in discrete channels. 

Omni-Channel employs all of these channels, but rather than separate and discrete communication channels, Omni-Channel provides seamless switching between channels with real-time awareness and knowledge of all the actions in any channel. Omni-Channel is significantly more complex than multi-channel.

This complexity is often born primarily out of the cost and resource requirements associated with integrating many disparate systems. 

But is the investment worth it?
To determine the return on this investment, let’s examine the enhanced capabilities that Omni-Channel can enable:

Segmentation

How can Omni-Channel support customer segmentation?

Companies segment their customer base to better understand these customers. The overall objective of customer segmentation is to analyze your customers, find niche opportunities, and create a sustainable competitive advantage. Segmentation allows organizations to increase profitability by better understanding customer needs and providing the solution then to meet those needs. Different treatments are required for each segment. We can segment our customers in many ways, based on lifetime value, RFM (recency, frequency and monetary value), class of customer, geography, line of business etc.

With Omni-Channel, we can recognize customers based on their segment across all channels:

On Voice Calls: 

  • Higher call/service level priority
  • Routed to higher skilled agent
  • Better FCR,
  • Higher CSAT/CX scores
  • More Empowerment

 

On Emails: 

  • Higher Priority
  • Human intervention versus AI/auto response
  • Contact-able agent signature versus generic
  • More Empowerment

On IVR: 

  • Ability to bypass or short-cut based on caller ID or customer number

On Chat: 

  • Higher service level priority
  • Lower chat to agent ratio (1:1)
  • Routed to higher skilled agent
  • Better FCR,
  • Higher CSAT/CX scores
  • More Empowerment

On Social: 

  • Auto escalation to contact center
  • Human response
  • Recognition

Journey Maps

How can Omni-Channel support your customer journey maps?

A Customer Journey Map (CJM) represents the customer experience from the perspective of the customer. Journey Maps need to be created for all channels of interaction. By understanding the journey of the customer when interacting with the brand, store or contact center, we believe we should be better able to deliver the desired customer experience. The logic here is sound, the challenge is with execution. There has been much coverage of the challenges and flaws in the CJM process as outlined below;

• 34% of companies indicating that they have undertaken CJM.
• Only 2% of companies that have reported success with CJM.
• 13% of customers who say CJM worked for them, while72% of customers who said CJM missed their needs.

The above research notwithstanding, CJM is a great process for better understanding the process, steps and journey that the customer must go through in receiving service from our organization. Failure to conceive, design and execute underlies much of the dissatisfaction cited above. To design and create an effective CJM process you need to keep the following considerations in mind;

1. The CJM must represent your Customer’s perspective. –Do you really know what this is?
2. Use research. -Conduct surveys, research and talk to Customer’s to confirm your understanding.
3. Represent Customer segments. –Different segments may have different experiences, you need to map each one.
4. Include the Customer’s Goal or Objective. –The Journey must end with the Customer getting what they want.
5. Include all touch-points and channels. –Customer’s expect consistency across the organization and channels.
6. Respect ‘Moments of Truth’ and the Emotions they invoke. –A bad interaction can taint an entire relationship. Identify the Moments of Truth and pay attention to the Emotions.
7. Check Alignment to your Brand Promise. –Customers are savvy, they are constantly checking us to see if we are ‘walking the talk’ and delivering the ‘promise’ that our advertising has made

“Is the service we are delivering an accurate reflection of the Brand Promises we have made?”

Omni-Channel provides CJM the ability to validate, confirm or inform:

  • The accuracy of the customer perspective and POV
  • The segmentation accuracy and effectiveness
  • Catalogue the ‘Moments of Truth’ across all journeys and segments
  • Impacts of ‘Moments of Truth’ by segment, transaction and channel

Customer Experience

How can Omni-Channel support your customer experience?

According to Gartner “by 2016, 89% of marketing leaders expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience” We all know that the experience the customer has when they interact with our company, our stores or our contact center, impacts their views, opinions and perceptions of the brand.

Customers judge their experiences on many different levels and across many touch-points. Their expectations don’t differentiate between a retail or a contact center interaction. They expect us to know them at all locations and across all channels. Omni-Channel can help us to do that.

The formal industry definition for customer experience is;
“How customers perceive their interactions with your company.”

CX (Customer Experience) includes all channels of communications and interactions, as illustrated on the Venn diagram:

Customer Centric Model

How can Omni-Channel support your customer centricity?

Customer centricity involves;

• Letting customers define the engagement.
• What channels they want to use.
• What control they can exert over their engagement.
• Engineer problems out as much as possible (proactive notifications/actions.)
• Ability to self-serve when desired.

In short, customer centricity requires that we recognizing a full 360 degree view of the customer. Being customer centric means you listen and respond to what they are saying and are consciously acknowledging their importance in your interactions and business decisions.

Omni-Channel supports customer centricity and ensures it is;
1. More consistent experiences and interactions
2. Superior understanding and appreciation of the customer POV and issues or concerns
3. More detailed and applicable notes in CRM informs better recognition and future actions

In a contact center environment, the moments of truth can an interaction, or can consist of multi- micro moments on any given customer contact interaction, as illustrated in the graphic below:

At Taylor Reach we have developed a contact center variation on this model. Each CX interaction can be viewed across three dimensions that have the greatest impact on the customers’ perceptions, opinions and experience:

  • Emotional connection. The ability of the agent to ‘connect’ with the customer
  • Rational connection. The ability of the agent to leverage training, knowledge and skills to resolve the inquiry
  • Customer effort. How easy was the process of reaching the agent.

We know intuitively that better service and better experiences improve customer relationships and research backs up our perceptions. Medallia Analysis found that organizations with the best customer experience realized a 140% increase in sales  when compared to those with the poorest customer experience scores.

The reasons for improving the customer experience can vary from organization to organization, but broadly they include: Improving Customer Retention, Improving Customer Satisfaction and Increasing Cross-Selling and Upselling.

Customer interactions account for more than half of all customer interactions in many industries, including retail and financial services. The decision of a customer to interact with the center is often based upon the perceived complexity of the task at hand. While many of us are comfortable interacting on-line to discover rates, prices or to understand the return policy, we are more likely to desire a live interaction if we perceive the issue or situation to be complex.

We can look at the Customer Experience across different levels. For example, in the graphic here we see the Customer Experience measured at the Brand level, the individual Customer Journey level and the Interaction level.

Increasingly organizations are beginning to measure the Customer Experience in their contact centers.  Research conducted by Genesys showed how companies are executing this strategy. When asked ‘What metric do you use to measure customer experience and loyalty’  the responses were:

  • Customer Satisfaction 51%
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) 26%
  • Customer Effort Score (CES) 17%

By understanding the capabilities of Omni-channel and the ways that Omni-channel can support related corporate priorities and initiatives such as customer segmentation, customer journey maps, customer centricity and customer experience, you are now better equipped to help position your organization to identify and understand the benefits and returns that can be achieved from an investment in Omni-Channel.

. Omni-Channel strategies support your overall related corporate priorities such as customer segmentation, customer journey maps, customer centricity and most importantly, the customer experience. Going forward, ensuring all of these initiatives are connected are one of the most important considerations to make when looking at the current channels you are employing. Leveraging Omni-Channel is the best method for delivering on your brand promise and optimizing operational performance.

Should you have any questions comments related to this post, please contact Colin Taylor directly at ctaylor@thetaylorreachgroup.com, or call at The Taylor Reach Group Inc. 1 866 334 3730 ext. 102



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Monday, May 16, 2016

The Taylor Reach Group Reaches Out Further

Garry Schultz joins The Taylor Reach Group Inc. & is Ready to Rock the Contact Center World.

Professional Customer Consultant and Guitarist. His passion for performing is what drives Garry to seek out the highest satisfaction in every project he is involved with. With 25+ years of global managerial experience in B2C and B2B, high-technology focused environments, Garry is dedicated to implementing strategic solutions for customer success / customer care initiatives. His emphasis on meaningful performance measurement serves as the foundation to the success of his initiatives.

Paul Knapp joins The Taylor Reach Group Inc. & is Eager to Execute his Support and Service Skills.

Professional Thought Leader and Consultant, Paul has an track record of providing successful strategies within the customer service and support industry. Paul has worn many hats, including administrative managerial and team lead roles, but has always been concentrated on operational care and customer support. He has a focused skill set in delivering organizational structure and tactics, preparing multitudes of process improvement plans for factors such as center actions, quality and professional coaching skills/training relief.

New To The Taylor Reach Table

"TRG has been working with one of the country’s largest media organizations and has been retained to redesigning their entire center’s agent onboard training program"
The Taylor Reach Group Inc. continues to expand their solutions globally, with current numerous projects underway concentrating on developing new strategic center operations and implementing operational best practices. As the day to day operations grow more complex with new channel integrations and adjusting to industry trends occur, your customer support and service can take a back seat to other priorities, but it always needs to remain in front of your business’ drive. TRG has been working with one of the country’s largest media organizations and has been retained to redesigning their entire center’s agent onboard training program; provide strategic evaluations, agent profiling and mapping critical success factors in order to increase overall operative performance. Not only do companies need to place emphasis on the deployment of customer support, but monitoring and assessing the quality and management of such service is of equal importance. Currently underway, TRG is restructuring and developing a new quality assurance program for a large electrical utility company, focusing on evaluating, reshaping and enhancing their call/contact center’s quality and customer experience.
The solution to challenges isn’t always obvious for centers as there isn’t “a one size fits all” solution that exists. TRG has been working with North America’s largest youth apparel brand to assess their center’s current needs, identify missing elements and elucidate pain points that may exist under the radar. Having multiple centers to oversee, this company recognized the complexity associated with managing tens of thousands of contacts across multiple channels in real time, and has retained TRG to help filling in the blanks.
"TRG has been working with North America’s largest youth apparel brand to assess their center’s current needs, identify missing elements and elucidate pain points that may exist under the radar"
"TRG is currently in process of helping one of Canada's leading humanitarian organizations to select a new telephony platform to support their centers in reaching their ideal contact service, customer experience and technical objectives.
The purpose of the call or contact center is to create an open communication channel to reach and engage with your customers. The level of interaction may depend on your consumer’s needs or might be a consideration of your business processes. But it might also be limited due to the technological limitations of your center. A center’s IT platform must have the capabilities to handle the organization and their customer’s expectations surrounding the customer experience, service and support. One of the leading humanitarian organizations in the country realized that their capabilities and potential was limited to due to their current telephony platform. TRG is currently in process of helping this organization to select a new telephony platform to support the centers in reaching their ideal contact service, customer experience and technical objectives.
The Taylor Reach Group Inc. is dedicated to supporting call and contact centers in reaching their goals and objectives. With hundreds of years of customer service, call and contact center experience, our expertise in combination with our passion and devotion have earned TRG the title of one of North America’s top call/contact center consulting services. Contact The Taylor Reach Group Inc. today if your center is in need of reinforcing or fine-tuning your strategy. Contact Ashley Locke for more information about Taylor Reach and our capabilities.


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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Do you know your Cost of Service?

Peter ElliotPeter Elliot
Senior Consultant – Europe
Customer Service and CRM

There is a largely linear relationship between the Quality and Cost of a customer service operation. Intuitively, the better the quality of service offered, the higher the cost. Take the simple example of answering a customer call. To offer the highest service level, the call will be answered immediately by someone who can resolve the issue. However, this also implies a competent staff member is waiting to take the call, and either they will be interrupting another task, or doing nothing. Both of these have a cost, so to be more efficient and keep staff occupied with customers all the time, they may work to a queue. The queue implies customer wait time, which can vary with peaks and troughs, which may cause a deterioration in service quality.  To avoid staffing up for the peaks, the queue can be used to smooth them out, lower cost again but even higher customer wait times, so lower quality service. Striking the right balance for the business is the grist for the mill of the contact center manager.

Many years ago, I worked for an IT company as a service engineer. This company was renowned for excellent service, and they built a good business on the back of it. We were field-based, and had busy times and slack times. During the slack time, we often just waited for a call – I became an expert at pinball! But customers loved the fact we could respond quickly, and as staff we were pretty satisfied as well. Its great getting constant accolades from happy customers, and appearing in surveys as #1 for service. ‘Whatever it takes to serve the customer’ was our motto.

One day, we were called to a meeting with our VP of Customer Service. He announced the company had decided no longer to be rated #1 for service, but would be happy to be #3 or #4. We were horrified, and thought it was the beginning of the end for the company. Looking back however, it was a sensible business decision. Having established a reputation for good service and products, they had decided to take a calculated business risk to reduce service costs and improve service margin, by changing from being ‘excellent’ to ‘very good’. This change resulted in fewer staff, and we had to cover more customers. No more slack time, more travel, and some customers had to wait longer. Managers now had to earn their salary and make priority decisions. But the business profited at minimal impact to the quality of the service. It was successful for our service teams, and we maintained our reputation for good service, even though we had to work harder. The company subsequently made some poor product decisions and went out of business, but that’s another story!

Most companies aspire to offer the best customer service their budgets will allow. Depending upon other business priorities though, service budgets can suffer. Service managers will typically have to balance their aspirations against requests from the business to cut costs. Where can efficiency be improved that will have the least or no impact on service levels? Do we want to tier our services so we offer the best service to our most valuable customers?  Do we know which customers are most valuable? Which products are costing us most to support, and can they be improved for less than the service cost? Can we deliver the service from lower cost locations or use lower cost channels? Should we invest in a knowledgebase so that customers can help themselves rather than place a call? In order to answer these questions all aspects of the operation must be measured in financial terms to determine where opportunities exist.  Cost per Call, or Cost per Contact can be useful measures to help identify where efficiency can be improved. However, whilst improving your efficiency it is essential to ensure that the quality of your service does not suffer, and there are a number of measures you can adopt such as NPS®, CES, CSAT,  that will ensure you achieve the right balance of Cost vs Quality for your business.

Peter Elliot is an experienced and professional consultant. Peter and his peers at The Taylor Reach Group, assist companies and organizations to overcome business, strategic and operational challenges in their call, contact center and customer facing organizations. 



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