2011 is shaping up to be a great year for service organizations. Enterprises and contact centers are aligned on the top goal for the year: improving customer service/the customer experience. This is a good starting point and shows a strong appreciation for how important customer satisfaction is for all organizations.
Top 10 Worldwide Contact Center Goals
The top 10 goals for contact centers, based on a Q4 2010 survey of 103 enterprise, contact center and IT managers around the world, are:
- Improving the customer experience – without customers there is no business. (Enterprise managers have finally caught on!)
- Improving productivity – this is to be expected, as contact centers are people-intensive organizations; managers are asked to focus on productivity improvements every year.
- Reducing operating expenses – this goes hand-in-hand with improving productivity.
- Increasing customer retention – it’s surprising that this is number four on the list because it is the motivation for improving the customer experience.
- Reducing agent attrition – this made its way back up to being a top-five priority after dropping to 9th place last year due to the weak economy.
- Increasing sales – this is the number-two goal for enterprise, but in 6th place for contact centers. Contact centers need to better prioritize revenue initiatives if they want to meet the expectations of senior executives. (If they do not, they are in danger of being outsourced to Asia.)
- Increasing use of self-service systems – this remains the most effective tool for increasing contact center productivity, and is expected to continue to be an area for investment in 2011.
- Better understanding the reasons why customers call/email – after all of the resources that have been poured into addressing this problem, it’s amazing that this is still a significant issue for contact centers. This also points out a sizable opportunity for speech and text analytics, as they are well positioned to either provide or improve the quality of this data.
- Improving collections effectiveness – given the state of the economy for the last couple of years, this is not surprising.
- Supporting regulatory requirements – it’s a pity that so much enterprise and contact center resources must go toward meeting government requirements. This reflects either a lack of investment during prior years, or a growing recognition that regulations need to be met; DMG thinks it’s a bit of both.
Changing Priorities for 2011
In 2010, for the first time in my 27 working years, contact centers leaders had their top goals aligned with those of the enterprise. The top three objectives for enterprises and contact centers were: improving customer service, cutting costs (which contact center address in a number of ways), and customer retention. It was a tough year for all parts of the enterprise, but this alignment of goals helped enterprises make the most of every customer contact center.
Contact centers managers’ focus seems to be slightly off the mark going into 2011, and they need to reprioritize to better align their objectives with enterprise goals. If they want to be perceived as essential corporate contributors, contact center leaders must prioritize sales in order to increase revenue for enterprises. Otherwise, contact centers risk once again being viewed as marginally useful overhead.
Now is the time for contact center managers to take advantage of a golden opportunity – during economic recessions, sales, marketing and senior executives turn to contact centers for help, as they are in communication with customers more frequently than any other part of an organization. When tough times pass, these leaders go back to business as usual. Contact center leaders should continue to push for involvement with sales, marketing and the company’s leadership team, and the best way to do this is by contributing to high-priority enterprise initiatives.
Don’t give up the improved image your contact center has earned within the enterprise over the past three years. Even if sales and marketing organizations are no longer asking your contact center for help, reach out to them and offer it. Take the initiative, find their needs and volunteer your organization’s help. The end result will be a service organization that is able to provide an improved customer experience and contribute to the enterprise’s bottom line.