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Trends Transforming Contact Centers into Profit Centers

Jenna Harvey, Global Manager, Emerging Industries
May 2, 2018

Traditionally, contact centers have been viewed as a cost center and a necessary expense to doing business. However, times are changing. Organizations have started to realize the immense value of the contact center in engaging with customers, improving customer experience and contributing to the bottom line.

In the digital age, where it's hard to stand out in the mind of customers, leveraging the front-line support that are having day-to-day interactions with customers is a golden opportunity. Strategic value can be achieved when the contact center effectively leverages technology that empowers their people, aligns processes, and delivers customer experience excellence.

There are four trends that are pivoting the contact center into a revenue generation hub:

1. Co-locating engagement centers back onshore.

Organizations that moved call centers abroad to save on operating costs haven't found the long term benefits they envisioned. Instead, they have faced increased complaints of poor quality service, loss of revenue, and rising concerns over security measures. The cost differential between operating a call center in the U.S. versus India has narrowed to 10% and over the next 3 years, only 4% of companies plan to employ offshore call center agents, according to research.

The need for seamless engagement, a renewed focus on customer satisfaction, and increased compliance is prompting organizations to bring their contact center operations closer to the customer. This allows organizations to selectively recruit agents with the right skill sets, knowledge, and motivation factors to advise and delight customers, while increasing the ability to convert interactions into revenue opportunities.

The demand for technology and increasingly complex conversations with the end user will give onshore contact centers the upper hand going into 2017 and beyond.

2. Technology advancements that empower agents and customers alike.

Customers want their service experiences to be customized, their interactions to be effortless, and their inquiries to be resolved quickly with a single touch point. To meet these needs, organizations are turning to technology that streamlines, automates, and intelligently guides the agent decision cycle, so agents can proactively advise customers, personalize offers, and drive revenue.

Forward thinking contact center leaders are exploring these strategic technologies:

    • Omni-Channel Engagement - provides seamless integration across voice, chat, email, social, and other digital channels in which customers interact

    • Robotic Process Automation (RPA) - integrates chatbots and utilizes digital workforce to handle manual, repetitive tasks, so the higher value interactions are handled by knowledgeable agents

    • Artificial Intelligence (AI) - provides AI-assisted recommendations and next best actions, along with sentiment analysis to determine customer temperament

    • Case Management - offers a single view of the customer with detailed interaction history, so agents have a deep understanding of customer relationship

    • Co-Browsing - allows agents to share their screens to conduct demo of products or highlight features on the spot with customers

    • Low-Code Cloud Platform - allows organizations to build applications that meet security, confidentiality and compliance controls, while accelerating time for deployment

The confluence of these technologies empowers agents to deliver exceptional service, tailor offers in the customer's chosen digital channel, and contribute to revenue objectives through cross-selling, upselling, and other targeted promotion activities.

Companies focused on providing a superior experience across customer journeys realized a 10-15% increase in revenue and a 20% increase in customer satisfaction.

3. Customer experience is the #1 business priority.

It's easy to understand why improving customer experience (CX) is a top priority for organizations. Improved CX leads to long-term customer loyalty, improved satisfaction, and likelihood for customers to purchase more, which ultimately drives profit. In fact, Forrester Research found that the revenue impact of a 1-point improvement in CX Index scores can help a company increase revenue by $175 million annually.

Of course, high quality customer service is the essential element of any organization's CX transformation and key to customer retention. To accelerate contact center profits, executives responsible for top-line CX strategy and those managing front-line customer interactions must come together to successfully lead the charge.

Increasing customer retention by 5 percent can increase profits by up to 95 percent.

4. Leveraging the goldmine of contact center data.

As the hub of communication, the contact center is a goldmine of rich data and insights on customer preferences and behaviors. Each customer interaction builds a pathway of information on customer needs, demographics, and purchasing behaviors that can be used to gleam insight into cross-sell and upsell opportunities.

Organizations that can harness these insights and share them across various departments will drive continuous improvements, innovation, and long-term growth that leads to distinct competitive advantages and added revenue.

Implementing programs, such as Voice of the Customer (VoC), can be utilized for a wide range of purposes including:

    • Issue mitigation

    • Fraud monitoring and detection

    • Product development

    • Customer experience monitoring

    • Tailoring marketing campaigns

Additionally, the insights revealed allows contact center leaders to prove their value to the organization. With 62% of call centers still being considered a cost center, the opportunity is ripe to change thinking and redefine the view of contact centers as a vital part of the organization that delivers business impact.

Arturo Oliver, Appian's Director of Product Strategy, will be speaking on how to "Transform Your Contact Center into a Profit Center" at the ICMI Contact Center Expo in Orlando, Florida on Wednesday, May 23rd at 10:50 am. If you are attending, be sure to stop by Appian Booth #328 to learn more about how the Appian Intelligent Contact Centerô Platform empowers agents and cultivates customer loyalty.

Jenna Harvey

Industry Marketing Manager