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Blog | October 18, 2021

Contact Center ROI: Transform Cost Centers into Value Centers

Like the call centers of yesteryear, modern customer service (CS) contact centers aren’t known for being money makers for big brands. If anything, they’re traditionally seen as cost centers, with a big focus placed on efficiency and cost savings. But CS leaders are challenging traditions (just like this one) as they continue to adapt to the pandemic rethink the contact center in the age of remote work. 

They have to. CS is now on the front lines for brands. And, on this front line, agents are dealing with both unprecedented demand and customers who need more from contact center operations than ever before. 

With that, consumers’ recent mass adoption of digital omnichannel during COVID flipped retail and commerce on its head. These changes, especially the erosion of brick and mortar points of sale, are eliminating the value centers that business owners used to rely on.

Naturally, owners are looking to reclaim some of this lost revenue. But to unlock contact center ROI, we need to think bigger than efficiency and cost-reduction tactics like interactive voice response (IVR), predictive analytics, and quality assurance (QA). In order to transform the contact center from a cost center into a value center, organizations need to equip CS agents with the skills and tools necessary to drive  top-line growth and bottom-line savings.

Cost to Value: How a Leading Telecom Company Increased Their Own Contact Center ROI

To shift the contact center from a cost center to a value center, many businesses are training customer service teams on how to upsell, cross-sell, and renew customers. Often referred to as a “service-to-sale” motion, this strategy is becoming increasingly popular amongst leading contact centers. Naturally, it requires businesses to go beyond traditional efficiency metrics like AHT and resolution time and look at metrics like revenue per conversation and upsell performance. Most importantly, in order to sell through customer service channels, businesses must first earn a customer’s trust.

Last year, a Leading Telecom Company in this very situation reached out to Cresta. Their CS leadership team asked us to analyze contact center performance and identify opportunities to increase contact center ROI

First and foremost, an agent must first earn a customer’s trust by delivering an excellent  customer experience. Only then will an agent earn the right to upsell a customer. The best way to do this? Answer questions and resolve problems:

  • In terms of upselling, the telecom company’s top quartile agents addressed and resolved issues 53% more often than the rest of their agents. 
  • These same top performers were 54% more likely to adequately explain why they were unable to resolve an issue or why the customer would need to be transferred. 

But the findings didn’t end there. After the agent has earned the right to upsell by providing excellent customer experience, customers at this point will still be in a “care” mindset. To effectively transition the conversation from customer service to an upsell or cross-sell motion, agents must appropriately set expectations with the customer. That said:

  • The top-quartile of agents at upselling were also 47% better than the rest of their peers at setting expectations before transitioning to discovery and subsequent upselling attempts. 

Lastly, to effectively upsell and cross-sell, customer service agents need to conduct discovery and appropriately tailor their offers to each customer’s unique needs. While this behavior is more ingrained in sales agents, it comes less naturally for customer service agents.

  • Top-quartile contact center agents only recommended upsells 7% more than other agents. However, they were 46% more likely to ask discovery questions and then customize upsell offers to the needs of each individual customer.

This was eye-opening. Anyone can recommend an upsell to check the box in their call script. However, as our analysis demonstrated, this company needed to train the rest of its agents to build customer relationships to improve contact center ROI sustainably. And agents needed to learn to do this by uncovering the needs and pains of their customers through discovery, just like their top upselling performers were. 

Our analysis concluded that the best upselling agents for this telecom company successfully combined the three behaviors outlined above in every call: 

  1. Provide excellent customer experience to earn the customer’s trust
  2. Smoothly transition the call from care to discovery and upsell by setting expectations
  3. Ask discovery questions to tailor upsell attempts towards each customer’s unique needs

3 steps to increase upsell and transform care contact centers from cost to value centers

By exhibiting all three of these behaviors more often, top-quartile agents achieved a 260% (3.6x!) higher upsell conversion rate compared to the other agents.

Real-time Behavioral Coaching Drives Real Contact Center ROI 

In this example, through Cresta’s real-time coaching towards these three behaviors, agents quickly learned to identify and tactfully recommend upsell or cross-sell opportunities to customers. By doing so, in less than a year this company increased its average upsell conversion rate by 174% (2.7x!).

But while this one example of transforming a cost center into a value center is exciting, we know not every CS contact center is ready to tackle such a strategy

The same system of dynamic real-time coaching used above is helping customer service teams of all sizes and skill sets work faster and more efficiently, driving down average handle time (AHT), and improving first call resolution rates (FCR). These customer experience enhancements and cost savings are key for establishing and sustaining contact center ROI.

Curious about what your contact center could accomplish by having real-time coaching, quality management, and reporting all on the same platform? 

Reach out to learn more or sign up today for your free demo of Cresta’s Expertise AI™