Your organization has grown over the years, and you have agents scattered at offices across the country (or around the world), answering customer inquiries and resolving problems by phone, email and through social media channels.
But now it’s reached the point where it’s getting tougher and tougher to stay on top of all those customer interactions. Consistency and quality of service is suffering. Is now the time to bring all those agents into a centralized location?
The answer may be yes. But it’s important to conduct a thorough analysis of the decision, taking into account potential costs and the risks and benefits of consolidating agents in one location. And there is one more consideration beyond that: should contact center activities remain in-house, or would it be better to outsource?
The Cost Analysis
The analysis begins with an assessment of all current costs associated with customer service, both direct and indirect. Employee salaries and benefits, and equipment, supplies and facility costs need to be taken into consideration. It’s also helpful to examine other, somewhat intangible issues: have customer complaints risen disproportionally as your organization’s customer service arm has grown? Have you lost customers because of poor service?
The next step is to put together the numbers for a centralized location: real estate costs, telecommunications equipment, office furnishings, and employee salaries and benefits. Costs can vary significantly depending on the location: Tier 1 cities can be very pricey, whereas Midwest and Southwest cities can have lower costs, and also access to a workforce with easy-to-understand neutral English and Spanish accents.
The first numbers may be rough, but you’ll have a clearer picture whether it makes financial sense to centralize your contact center. It may be beneficial at this time to engage a consultant or outsourced contact center provider to get a very accurate snapshot of the costs of a centralized contact center.
The Benefits of Contact Center Centralization
Centralized contact centers benefit from economies of scale, something that will become quickly apparent during your initial cost analysis. The start-up costs of one facility, one communications platform, one CRM system come down on a per-agent basis as the operation ramps up. Other benefits seen from a centralized contact center include:
- Per-transaction (number of calls, emails, chat sessions) economies of scale
- Lower salary and benefit costs if site is located in a community with a lower cost of living
- Improved management and supervision: one manager can easily supervise and mentor many more employees at a centralized location compared to a remote location.
- Improved quality of agent training: a centralized training staff can ensure the consistency and quality of training, plus be available for follow-up training reinforcement and improvement.
- Improved customer communication: a centralized location offers a single point of contact for customers, who can be transferred to the appropriate agent for service.
- Improved analytics and error reduction: a centralized location makes it easier to gather data for analysis, and to address errors and other issues quickly.
The Decision to Outsource:
Outsourcing contact center activities can offer additional benefits beyond those found through consolidation. For example, many companies prefer to turn over customer service activities to an outside provider so that the organization can focus its time, energy and financial resources on producing and improving the core product or service that creates customers in the first place. Outsourcing can also help companies manage costs better by removing the need for major capital investments and instead shifting cost to a per-transaction basis.
Also, outsourced contact center providers typically will have more than one location, so a backup facility can be put into operation quickly in case of an unexpected business interruption.