Blog - Call Center Outsourcing

Want a Solid New Year? Use Objective-Driven Budgeting

12/11/2012

Contact centers are driven by resources, in particular people and technology. Headcount is one of the biggest budget line items for a contact center, and frankly there is no way around it. Even the most advanced technology cannot replace the intellectual property of a seasoned agent. Therefore, it is critical to utilize objectives to drive budgets, rather than budgets driving your objectives.

All contact centers are metric driven – forecasting, staffing, scheduling, customer satisfaction – every metric is monitored and reported regularly. Typically these metrics can be reported and viewed real-time so that at any point a manager can make appropriate adjustments to ensure continued quality transactions. Using these metrics will provide the foundational elements of a budget. However, determining what objectives you wish to reach will become a critical next-step to developing a solid budget.

If you budget based on precedents, arbitrary decisions or anything other than the contact center strategy, you are going to be at a disadvantage. Most contact centers have a clear-cut strategy – provide excellent customer service. Some centers are focused on customer acquisition while others are more focused on providing customer support. Whatever the ultimate goal, developing and aligning it with a strategy should be the primary focus of the budget (not developing a budget and then forcing each piece to fit).

Some common pitfalls in the budgeting process include:

  1. Assuming technology will resolve everything. There is a strong desire to effectively utilize technology to improve contact center efficiency, sometimes to the detriment of customer service. That is why it is important to review all metrics through the lens of customer impact, rather than cutting headcount and hoping that customers will take care of themselves.
  2. Forgetting there are tradeoffs. If your forecast is off, then your customer service is impacted. Too high and you are providing better service, but at a higher cost. Too low and your service levels decline. It is important to run through multiple scenarios to fine-tune the budget and develop the best solution.
  3. Choosing not to outsource. Outsourcing is a cost-effective solution for many challenges, including contact volume spikes and seasonal increases. This gives companies the opportunities to move significant numbers to expense line items while continuing and often improving customer service metrics.

Too frequently the budgeting process starts with the numbers and moves to making components fit. Using objectives to drive the budget will ensure you have the right agents and technology in place to drive high customer service metrics and improve transaction close rates.

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