Contact Centers-3 Questions for Future Strategies (1,421 words)
- Examine key metrics, especially those that offer accurate and timely measurement of cost per contact, call and order.
- Improve management strategies. Often improvements in customer service and productivity can be achieved with better execution of daily processes. Specifically, many catalogers could use the services of more trainers, HR administrators and scheduling/staffing analysts.
- Implement a personnel scheduling software package. A good program can result in a 10-percent to 15-percent reduction in the cost per call. Our studies show that if you track CSR utilization, you'll find that paid vacation/sick days, breaks, pre-shift meetings, training sessions, and off-phone and administrative time may account for more than 25 percent of a CSR's time annually.
- Use part-time personnel more effectively to gain flexibility in scheduling and lowering paid labor hours, and cost per contact, call and order.
- Implement an incentive program and commissions to improve sales per employee.
- Adapt technology to decrease costs. Explore the use of interactive voice response, computer telephony integration, call-prompting systems and other solutions.
There are direct and indirect ways a contact center can increase sales.
Implement upsell/cross-sell. This can be done in a tasteful manner and may provide a significant increase in average order value. Several large catalogs even have implemented online upselling/
cross-selling (similar to what Amazon does) and have benefited from the boost in average order size.
Implement selective outbound calling to customers to sell and improve service. Effective use of outbound telemarketing is virtually untapped in the catalog industry. But with so much do-not-call legislation around, explore this sales channel carefully to ensure you comply with all state — and the newly enacted federal — laws.
Outbound also can be used to boost customer service and reduce returns. Recently our local Staples store called to ask how we liked their service when we returned a product. There was no pressure, just the questions: "Did we provide the service you expected? Is there any thing else we can do today for you?"