The difference between cost and value is a debate that has been argued over for many years in the contact center industry. Is it better to get a better customer experience, or save money and have more to spend elsewhere? Why choose? Who says that low cost equals bad experience?
There are some companies, like Lego, that appear to spend endlessly on their customer service processes because they believe the customer advocacy that amazing service creates is worth the investment. That’s a great model if your company can afford it, but that’s not a reality for most customer engagement executives. They need to constantly justify the Return On Investment (ROI) and any spending on customer service, and every year, budgets tend to get cut, not expanded.
It’s fine arguing that a bigger budget for customer service will result in happier customers, but is that truly the case? So the difference between cost and value becomes really important for most executives planning a customer experience (CX) strategy. How can you drive up customer experience scores and keep costs stable – or even reduce them?
It’s important to consider why there’s a difference in costs between various solutions. The obvious considerations are location (domestic, virtual, nearshore, offshore), but what then?
The two biggest drivers for contact center costs are people and technology/telephony. When evaluating people costs, here are a few elements to consider:
- Is your contact center a big employee churn machine? The costs of recruiting, hiring, training, improving, stabilizing, and then REPLACING agents is mind-boggling…not to mention the cost to your business related to AHT, FCR, conversion rates, and ultimately Customer Experience. Costlier, and in many cases, larger suppliers have to overcompensate by offering higher and higher wages in order to keep up with their employee churn. But ultimately, higher wages brings people in the door, but it most definitely doesn’t keep them. Choose an organization that can keep costs down through treating their employees right and reducing employee attrition, and you ultimately help yourself.
- How many layers does your contact center organization have? How much is ultimately spent on admin costs? Be wary of the company that brings ten people to every client meeting. This may seem like you’re receiving lots of love and attention, but at the end of the day, you’re paying for it, and paying for ten people to be in every meeting that you’re not attending too. As companies get larger, their bureaucracies expand too. And with that comes lots of bells and whistles. At the end of the day, how many “nice to haves” are you willing to pay for vs. spending your money where you’ll see the greatest impacts?
- Technology costs have come down tremendously for those who have set themselves up for success. Unfortunately, many legacy contact center providers have burdened themselves with expensive and cumbersome on-premise data centers loaded with switches, servers, and other equipment which were great in the day but now is inflexible and very much a drag on costs. And now they’re stuck with an expensive infrastructure. Has your partner invested in cloud-based solutions to keep you from spending needlessly? Isn’t your company trying to do the same thing internally?
Ultimately, you need to find a partner that’s spending on things which matter to your business. And then have a strategy to spend incrementally on those things that are important to you.
The important thing, and this is key, is it is always better to go with a lower cost company that can provide you with value at your target price vs. going with a higher cost company and negotiating down the rate to where you lost any of the value they were able to offer in the first place.