Do contact centre bosses really care about customer service ROI?

25th Jun 2014

Are senior management tuned into the financial costs of not developing a positive customer service experience within their call centres? Should they be?

These were the questions pitched by KANA, in a survey for UK Contact Centre Association (CCA) members that sought to discover how customer service teams viewed their position as part of the organisational revenue stream.

The results found that just under half (41.5%) of respondents took an interest in revenue loss resulting from poor customer service while, somewhat more alarmingly, one in ten customer service management teams “pay no attention to the financial implications of a poor customer service experience” at all.

An ongoing battle exists in many call centres as to the philosophy behind what their role is within the overall business framework.

BT’s futurologist and customer service expert, Dr. Nicola Millard, recently spoke of a need to change the value many businesses place on the call centre to make themselves more customer-centric, however Stephen Parker, CEO of WhosOn countered this argument by stating that call centres will never be seen as more than an operational cost, and that recent changes to EU regulation means cost-cutting exercises will become more severe and senior managers are losing focus on the fundamentals as a result.

This appears to be the general consensus among industry professionals, too, with KANA’s research uncovering that over 60% of the CCA members felt senior managers did not think customer service was a viable way to drive revenue in a business, while 20.8% there was little or no focus on customer service at a senior level at all.   

The research also highlighted that call centre agents perceive outdated systems, lack of investment, agent skills gaps and a lack of understanding or support at a senior level as key barriers to providing a better service.        

“Unfortunately, the contact centre is often seen as an operational expense and nothing more,” says Steven Thurlow, head of worldwide product strategy for KANA. “Often, senior management will review functional aspects, such as speed of handling times and resolution times. This approach is unlikely to drive further investment and instead maintains a focus on efficiency above all else. Fast service and good customer experiences are not always the same thing. Strategic investments in people, processes and the technology platforms that can aid them should be considered by the C-suite and across organisations.

“The commercial value of an effective call centre, balanced against mitigating and eliminating the potential damages of poor customer service, should not be overlooked. A contact centre is not an unavoidable cost – it can be an invaluable tool.”

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