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What’s your true cost per call? Reduce your spend with Advanced Analytics

Written by: Jon Rastia, Director of Innovation

Welcome back! Last month, we introduced CX Connect Advanced Analytics, a new way to dig deep into CRM data, escape “funnel vision,” and see both the bigger picture and the smallest details. The goal, naturally, is to create more rewarding customer experiences — and drive a whole lot more revenue.

Let’s call that blog the “macro” of our Advanced Analytics solution. This month, we’re going to go a little more “micro” and get into the specific data sets that help determine the cost per call in your customer contact center. More importantly, we’re going to share some tactics you can easily execute to lower your cost per call while lifting customer satisfaction.

(Sidebar: a customer contact center is not to be confused with a call center. Though a call center is part of it, a customer contact center is an omnichannel platform comprising every possible path, program, and process a customer may use to connect with your business, and every possible platform used to manage and monetize that connection. Want more info? Check out our recent blog explaining the difference between a call center and a contact center.)

Putting the “custom” in customer: The benefit of engagement, the detriment of dissatisfaction

Before we dig into cost per call calculations (the “how” and the “what”), a little more about the “why” and the “where.” The why should be obvious: as stated in the preceding header, happy customers help, unhappy ones hurt. For every single customer complaint your business registers there are typically 10 more customers with a similar issue, but those people simply didn’t feel like taking the time to register a complaint.

Which makes the customer contact center (the where), and your ability to resolve customer cases on the very first call, mission-critical in every sense. And even though your call center is usually where a problem first surfaces, a call center can rarely fix those problems on its own.

But with a modern customer contact center — where all relevant customer data is instantly available and presented to a rep, where many issues can be resolved automatically, where bots and AI can help reduce wait times, where human resources are strategically allocated and optimized — first-call resolution is the name of the game. And every customer gets a customized and more rewarding experience every time.

Calculating Cost Per Call the Easy Way

The first step of calculating the cost per call is easy: pick a time frame. Week? Month? Quarter? Year?

Second, evaluate all the contact center agents working for your center. This isn’t a “how good is Bonnie compared to Dave?” performance evaluation. This is bare-bones metrics:

  • How many agents do you have?
  • What are the hourly wages attached to each agent?
  • How many calls does each agent attend to per hour?

Third step is to simply take each agent’s hourly wage and divide it by the average number of calls made by the agent during an hour. Joe gets $30 nd hour and takes 10 calls an hour. Joe is a “$3 a call” rep.

Fourth, add up the results of all agents — Joe, $3 a call; Bonnie $4.25 a call; Louise, $3.45 a call; Terry, $64.62 a call — divide by number of agents, et voila, your cost per call has been determined. (Also, you might want to have a chat with Terry…)

Calculating Cost Per Call the ACTUAL Way

But — and it’s a big “but” — it’s rarely that simple. Sure, if you have a few hundred customers and < 10 products or services and < 10 reps all working out of the same location, a simple calculation like the preceding will be enough to get started. But when you have 15,000 reps across the world, 325,000 SKUs, dozens of service agreements and service levels, and ongoing changes being made to global product and/or service availability — i.e., when you’re an enterprise-level business — calculating cost per call can have hundreds if not thousands of variables.

Knowing those variables exist is only the start to accurately calculating cost per call at the enterprise level. The next step is collecting the data on every variable, desiloing and codifying that data in real-time, creating an ongoing feedback loop with reps and manager, and implementing reporting tools and systems that allow leadership to act on the data.

This is where CX Connect Advanced Analytics comes into play. The solution integrates with customer calls at every level, driving actionable data to where it’s needed in real-time.

Now on to the good stuff: reducing those costs!

How to reduce your cost per call

It starts with properly “arming” your reps with a customer contact center and the endless amounts of helpful data and tools it provides. Let’s compare some scenarios.

Scenario 1: Call center only

A customer receives a damaged widget.
They call to complain/request a new one.
They’re on hold for 10 minutes before a customer representative can get to them, at which time they’re asked to explain their problem.
They’re on hold for another 10 minutes while their call is routed to someone who can fix their problem.
They explain their problem once more and the rep offers to send a new widget.
After a roughly 30-minute call and a few hoops, a solution has been reached, and a new widget is being sent to the customer.

Scenario 2: Customer contact center

A customer receives a damaged widget.
They call to complain/request a new one.
AI is used to recognize their phone number, account, recent orders, and they’re given the option to request a new widget.
DONE. And with no need to use a rep’s time.

Invariably, though, a major piece on reducing cost per call comes down to the people handling the calls, and here’s what you can do there.

  • Ensure quality training: Don’t just give people scripts. Give them tools. Ensure that employees receive quality training focused almost entirely on reducing call times and improving the first-call resolution rate.
  • Leverage AI for call monitoring: Did you know that there are AI tools that can actually detect tone and pitch in a caller’s voice? I.e., you can automatically detect if a customer is upset and route accordingly to your best reps. Additionally, your contact center should have tools for real-time management oversight. Call center managers must monitor calls as they happen and offer constructive feedback to agents to improve their quality.
  • Effectively schedule your agents: Considering factors like peak call times, and each agent’s first call resolution rates while scheduling agent shifts is critical to improving customer service. When the game is on the line (when you’re likely to get the most challenging customer cases) you want your A-team on the field.
  • Create an omnichannel solution: For most of this article, we’ve focused on “the people problem” in reducing cost per call, which is key as human resources are often the costliest resources. But when you move from a traditional call center to an omnichannel customer contact center, you can take advantage of chat bots, SMS, AI, and a host of other tools to concurrently reduce costs AND improve the customer experience (learn more about omnichannel customer contact centers).

While some of these tactics are easily handled using your existing platforms and people, the fastest path to lasting engagement is to transform your call center into a contact center. We’re here to help you get started.

Contact us today to learn more.