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CSPs Can Grow Business by Embracing Change in the Contact Center

A Tier 1 communication service provider (CSP) contact center can receive up to 1M calls per day. How customer-facing resources—or customer service representatives—are used, can have a demonstrable impact on a number of critical business objectives, including product sales, revenues, cost-to-serve and customer satisfaction and loyalty. Using these resources wisely to help your company to get closer to the customer can also produce many payoffs.

The better that CSPs can understand their customers’ needs and wants, the more opportunities can be discovered to reduce costs or increase average revenue per user (ARPU). As product managers scramble to speed time to market for new offers, extend product lifecycles and maximize category revenues, they should consider the impact the contact center can have on subscriber relationships. Getting closer to the customer is critical to achieving those goals.

However, outdated perceptions about the role of a traditional contact center can impede the changes needed to capitalize on opportunities. Your contact center provider can be a valuable source of strategic insight that can help you overcome limitations. As your customers are embracing change quickly—especially in light of the products and services CSPs provide—gaining a leg up can help to accelerate delivery against objectives.

Push Me, Pull You Metrics

Traditionally seen as a cost of doing business, contact centers have been managed by a series of KPIs designed to reduce costs. However, the customer has not always been at the forefront of consideration when service processes were designed to deliver on specific KPIs. Considering that today’s customer is in the driver’s seat of the relationship—and their propensity to switch communications providers on a dime—it’s time to make the customer the priority. But contact centers are still primarily run based on metrics that may be in conflict with customer opportunities.

  • Average Handle Time (AHT) vs. First Contact Resolution (FCR)

AHT has been focused on controlling the time agents spend on a call with a customer, whereas first call resolution is a metric that requires doing what it takes to resolve the customer’s issue during the call. Depending on circumstances, speed can easily be compromised to reach the satisfactory resolution for a customer during an initial call. Relaxing the requirement for speed can help to improve the relationship, as well as your company’s net promoter score (NPS).

  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) vs. Customer Loyalty

CSAT is concentrated on a moment in time—the customer’s response to—or memory of—their most recent interactions with your company. Loyalty, on the other hand, is an attitude over the longer term. The aggregate of the interactions with your company and the experience had with your products and services work in combination to determine the longevity of the customer relationship, as well as the amount they’re willing to spend with your company over the term of that relationship.

There are other metrics that could be discussed, but the point is that as long as the contact center is considered a cost of doing business, processes will be designed to keep those costs down irrespective of the potential for the contact center to proactively contribute to product sales, growing customer share of wallet and long-term loyalty. It’s time to challenge this traditional focus and work with your contact center to discover how a change in operations can provide a higher return on investment.

Challenging the Status Quo

What needs to be done first, in order to determine which conflicting metrics may need to be relaxed is to determine the reason customers are calling. Ask your contact center vendor to do an audit of call drivers.

  • How many calls are related to billing questions?
  • How many calls are for device support or upgrades?
  • Is confusion on the website a source of calls to your contact center?
  • How many calls are for plan modifications?

Now that you know what the main call drivers are, you can take a look at the root cause to see if improvements can be made to reduce the number of calls. For example, can your billing statements be made easier to understand? Are the self-help FAQs on your website written in simple language that your customers can understand? Can how-to videos be made to reduce the calls for device support?

Once the processes or information that was causing calls has been improved, this leaves time for agents to spend on helping customers upgrade their products, extend their subscriptions, and modify their plans to suit their lifestyle needs. AHT can be loosened without fear of causing a back-up in the queue and CSAT will translate more handsomely into customer loyalty with longer relationships that result in higher ARPU.

Change Doesn’t Always Mean Costs

One of the main reasons that CSPs don’t work to change the way things have always been done in the contact center is due to the belief that changes to the vendor contract will result in higher costs. But, as you’ve seen above, there are routes to change that can serve to lower costs by reducing calls through providing information in other channels as well as investments that can pay off by offsetting the costs for longer calls with associated revenues. It’s worth exploring the options with your call center provider. They have the expertise; why not use it to your advantage?