After quality, the cost is the biggest concern for all organizations in the CX business today. The reason is very simple – running a thriving contact center is very expensive. A recent survey of executives found that nearly 25% of the organizations surveyed spent $1 million or more annually on contact centers.

Cost refers to the overall expenses involved in operating a dedicated contact center. These expenses typically cover infrastructure, salaries and HR costs, training, software, external costs such as recruitment and maintenance. Some of these expenses are relatively easier to control, but there is no silver bullet to shoot down the cost.

To solve the cost problem, contact center managers need to put their complete focus on three key areas at once: people, process, and product and build a comprehensive cost-saving strategy that doesn’t sabotage the quality of customer experience.

Some organizations prefer to operate their contact centers internally, while others are reducing their traditional voice-based services and expanding their operations in more cost-effective and scalable self-service channels, like live chat, interactive voice response (IVR), email, social media, etc. Why? Because the average cost of IVR self-service is only about $0.45, compared to $5.50 for assisted and voice-based service.

Voice is an important channel, but it’s also the most expensive! The key here is to reduce all costs associated with answering a call or handling a contact, without compromising on the levels of service quality and customer experience.

Let’s say a contact center gets 100,000 calls per month. If the cost per call is $10, and 30% of calls are repeat calls, the cost of the repeat calls is $300,000 per month. A mere 10% reduction would yield a savings of $30,000 per month or $360,000 per year. Make the cost of a call $25, and the annual savings would be $900,000.

To make the most of every call requires the right balance between efficiency and effectiveness in day-to-day operations, resources, staffing, etc. This blog post will present five essential tips that can help you bring down the cost per call/contact, a KPI frequently used by managers to assess efficiency within the contact center.

1. Optimize hiring and training

Building an excellent team of agents who have the right skillsets and sufficient knowledge of the company’s products/services/resources to resolve customer issues quickly or at first contact, without leaving any chance of further customer follow-ups or escalations, is the first step. It means hiring the best people and continuously training them to understand the customer’s needs quickly and properly, and excel in their respective roles. In other words, to decrease cost per call, the agents should increase the customer service quality and improve the first call resolution rate.

2. Utilize call monitoring

Engaging with the team is the second step. Why? To maintain quality, agents need real-time feedback and a constant assessment mechanism for their performances. This is where call monitoring comes in handy for contact center managers. Live call monitoring and the tracking of key metrics like call scoring, using intelligent call monitoring solutions provided by CX leaders like Acqueon, offers invaluable insights into how the agents are performing and what the customers are really getting. Armed with qualitative data from customer interactions and quantitative performance measures, managers can give feedback, suggestions, or appropriate training so that the agents can deliver top-notch service to the customers.

3. Leverage skills-based routing

Contact centers use different call distribution methods today to connect the callers to the agents in minimum possible time. Ring-in-Order and Round Robin are the most widely used because they are easy to implement. But they have several setbacks. Skills-based routing is the higher rated method recommended for a number of reasons. First, skills-based routing ensures the call resolution on the first call. Second, it avoids repeated customer call-backs and improves call handling time.

With skills-based routing, the automatic call distributor (ACD) connects the customer with a unique problem to an agent, who has the right skills and track record in addressing that specific type of problem (in the least amount of time) on the first call. This process isn’t as simple as it seems! Acqueon’s Intelligent Call Routing, for instance, uses complex routing algorithms to analyze caller information like location, dialed phone number, contact history, open records, time zone, and language preferences, before determining the most qualified agent among all available agents with matching skillset and training.

4. Explore self-service

More and more customers today prefer self-service over contacting a live support agent. According to a study, nearly 40% of consumers are comfortable with using self-services like IVR, chat, knowledge base, and customer portals, to find information, request services, and resolve everyday issues by themselves. If implemented correctly, self-service can be an excellent way to minimize the inbound call volume. It can also significantly cut the costs associated with telephony and staffing, and as a result, reduce cost per call. Besides, self-service channels can function around the clock, saving time and resources.

5. Utilize call-back

Call-backs are the best thing to offer, instead of forcing customers to wait on hold when all agents are busy attending calls, especially at peak hours. According to Forrester, 72% of people would like call-backs at the right time in the queuing process. From a cost standpoint, deploying a call-back solution (aka “virtual queuing”) is a wise decision to reduce the cost as it decreases the number of callers waiting in a queue. With a call-back feature in place, the caller can opt-in and relax until the call-back system connects the agent and caller when his/her turn arrives at the front of the queue. An efficient call-back solution can lead to lower abandonment rates, shorter handling times, and higher first contact resolution.

Looking for solutions to turn your contact center into a profit center? Ask one of our many CX specialists for a demo. We’re confident that we have the right solutions to increase the efficiency and productivity of your contact center operations while at the same time lowering your per call costs, too.