“Sorry, Mr. Contact Center Manager, Carl, but next year’s budget for contact center customer service will go down by five percent. We expect you to provide the same level of customer service and even increase our Net Promoter Score. We all have to do more with less.”

If this sounds like your last budget discussion with your boss, you are probably already thinking about how you can meet this challenge. You know you can’t cut on resources because that hits your ability to meet service levels, and you also know that customers expect you to be open longer and respond faster to all of the channels a modern contact center customer service operation is expected to provide.

So what can you do to provide a better customer experience and become more efficient at the same time? Let’s take a look at seven options:

  1. Reduce cost of ownership. If you are using multiple solutions to manage your communication channels, look into one solution to manage all of your channels.  Customers will benefit as you understand how they communicate with you, and you will enjoy a lower cost of ownership.
  2. Transform your infrastructure for further TCO reduction. If you are still operating your contact center on a hardware-based solution, consider migrating to a software only solution. Find out more about TCO in a new white paper, Comparing the Total Cost of Ownership of TDM and SIP Contact Centers.
  3. Implement interaction blending. Now that you have one solution for all channels, you can have your employees work on a variety of interaction types to increase employee occupancy.
  4. Consider ‘Last Agent Routing’ capabilities. When your customer contacts you again within a few hours of their last contact, chances are it’s about an unresolved matter. Finding the last agent who talked to the customer might require a bit more waiting time, but you can erase this negative with reduced average handle time because the agent is familiar with the customer’s issue. As a bonus, you have the opportunity to blow away the customer with a great personalized experience.
  5. Stop hiring the wrong agents. Investing in training is a big cost, especially when your employees don’t meet your quality criteria, and you have to let them go. Assess your candidates before they start.
  6. Analyze ‘Repeat Contact Behaviour’. In some operations repeat callers equate to 20 percent of overall volume. Analysis can reveal if the problem is a specific group of employees or one of your outsourcers who needs better training and education. Increasing your ‘1st time fix’ is provides for better customer experience and is better for your bottom line.
  7. Outsource and in source. Use outsource partners who can provide capacity at a lower cost, but in source your own technology to the outsourcer so that you retain control over quality and insight into efficiency.

These seven options will drive a better customer experience while you reduce costs. And the next time you discuss your customer service budget, negotiate reinvesting any savings that you achieve on top of your target on new technology to drive  more innovative customer experiences and competitive differentiation. In next year’s budget discussion, you’ll have a different conversation.