Call Center Revenue Generation Services
Turn Customer Service into a Profit Center
- When customer service is a cost center it is a continuous target for cutbacks. But when it is a profit center it becomes an investment opportunity for enhanced revenue streams.
- The shift from a customer service cost center to profit center converts a CapEx-heavy support function (that eats into the bottom line) into a revenue growth catalyst (that expands the top and bottom lines).
- Monetizing customer service improves customer loyalty and top line revenue growth.
Many contact or call centers continue to be cost centers. That doesn't bode well for profit maximizing companies that seek to do all they can to boost the bottom line.
A smarter approach is to transition customer service from a cost center to a profit center. This requires a shift in focus from resolving cases to delivering value added services that strengthen customer relationships, grow customer loyalty and deliver top and bottom line financial results.
Profit centers recognize the untapped value of the customer base, apply specialized services to capitalize on that laden opportunity and reposition contact or call center value in revenue terms. They append their mission from just delivering good support to increasing revenue by growing the existing customer base.
A McKinsey report shares that only a decade ago, most companies had not seriously considered the revenue potential from support services. However, that's quickly changed and the management consultancy report reveals that today many customer support organizations contribute up to 20 percent of total revenues.
According to Gartner, within the next two years, 40% of support organizations will be profit centers. And most will leverage digital customer engagement to make that transition.
But here's the challenge.
Making the customer service cost to profit center crossover requires investment and commitment from the C-suite. And they will require firm and credible financial justification for that investment.
Here are the top two sources to give them what they need.
A Measurable Indirect Revenue Impact
Start by demonstrating the contact center's existing financial contribution to the company.
Contact centers drive elevated customer experiences and differentiated brand value that grow repeat purchases, customer share and customer retention. But if these benefits are not measured, they are not visible. Out of sight, out of mind.
The financial benefits are real, but often hidden. Consider the following:
- A PWC study found that customers who receive good customer experiences are willing to pay 16% more for products and services and are 63% more likely to share their personal information with the company.
- A customer experience study published in Harvard Business Review found that customers with a satisfactory customer support experience spend 140% more than those with a poor experience.
- And a study from Gartner advised that 64% of consumers choose or keep a brand based on the company's support.
While the support organizations value is undeniable, the numbers must be put into company context to support investment decisions.
So, how do you do that?
We recommend measuring the financial impact for each support service. We often align services and value measurement with the customer journey. For example, advancing customers from onboarding, to growth, to retention.
We recently measured the customer support case management impact to revenue generation for a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technology company.
We surveyed 119 of the company's customers that incurred product utilization errors.
We then compared the trailing 9 months revenue based on the resolution of their case and compared these customers with all customers.
We found that customers who did not report an incident increased their spend by an average of 4% over the 9 month period.
We found that customers who reported an incident and were not satisfied with the resolution reduced their spend by an average of 2.5% over the period.
And finally, we found that customers who reported an incident and were satisfied with the resolution increased their spend by an average of 7.5% over the period. That's about 2X higher spend than customers who never incurred an issue.
The results were not surprising. We've done these tests for years and know that successfully resolving customer issues is an invitation to increase customer share.
This is just one support scenario of many that can culminate into the contact centers true revenue contribution to the company. Bringing measurability to all processes allows you to understand how much to invest to achieve customer service quality that yields customer satisfaction and delivers sustained profits to the company.
The contact center drives what is typically unmeasured revenue by satisfying customers who make repeat purchases and referrals. But that's the bare minimum. To step up the value, service leaders are leveraging their unique relationship with customers to realize more direct revenues and shed the cost center stigma in favor of being recognized as a revenue contributor.
Expand with Direct Revenue Contribution
When the call center wants to generate more revenue it introduces fee-based and value-added services, finds new and innovative ways to sell products and passes sale opportunities to marketing and the salesforce.
When introducing revenue streams the organization incurs a paradigm shift from providing customer support to delivering customer value.
The call center shifts from being cost-focused to customer-focused.
The agent shifts from delivering service to delivering value.
Here are some call center revenue generation services to consider.
Enhanced Support Services
New revenue streams are best defined by first understanding your customers' pain points and how they define value.
Customers are not homogenous. So, introducing a range of services with different levels of support and pricing permits them to choose the precise service that fits their goal and budget.
A range of customer support services might include tiers such as the following.
- Free support using customer self-service channels such as AI-infused virtual agents, searchable knowledgebases or peer to peer online communities. This level of service may or may not include escalation to live agent support.
- Low-cost support using asynchronous agent communication services, such as chat or SMS. These methods facilitate scale by permitting one agent to engage multiple customers simultaneously.
- Standard support service priced at a moderate fee and with available upgrades for extended support hours. You could also include add-on programs for special services such as product installation, implementation or training services.
- Premium fee-based support services that may include dedicated account management, concierge services, VIP priority placement, Service Level Agreements (SLA) or entitlements.
When multiple support programs are available they may be bundled or offered à la carte.
A requirement for fee-based services is that they deliver a service that's worth paying for.
Fee-based customer service plans are often subscription-based services that deliver elevated customer experiences and an annuity revenue stream.
Proactive Customer Service
Proactive customer support is incurring accelerated adoption due to its high customer value and high margin revenue.
Contact centers are using technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, predictive analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) to reposition support from reactive resolution to proactive mitigation or prevention.
The support organization may provide real-time product, asset or service monitoring with prescribed levels of intervention based on status, utilization or interruption.
This service often uses telemetry or IoT technology whereby sensors transmit performance readings to a central station. Value is measured by performance optimization and uptime. The value proposition is to identify and resolve problems before they occur. That may include scheduling proactive service with lead time, transitioning from reactive repair to preventative maintenance, or otherwise intervening to minimize or eliminate downtime.
It's a service most often used by asset or software-based companies, or companies that deliver a subscription service, but the use cases are broad and extensible.
Contact centers that can harvest data from products or solutions can create an array of fee-based services such as performance monitoring, predictive maintenance and product optimization.
Sales Order Processing
Call center agents are successfully selling low consideration or impulse-based products and services. They are also forwarding sale opportunities to marketing and sales for high consideration purchases.
Call center agents are good listeners. And they can use those skills to surface customer pain points that may be remedied with a new or upgraded product or service.
Most customers are not aware of all their brands products. So, based on the customer situation, the agent can logically introduce a purpose-built product or service, or possibly a bundle that leverages a product the customer already has.
Agents are in a unique position to learn the customer's situation, identify their immediate needs, probe future needs and recommend solutions for specific problems to receptive customers.
They can further identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities, and instead of a sales pitch, it's an offer to remedy a situation or add additional value.
Suggestive sales recommendations can also be automated. For example, when a customer calls in with a case, the system can notify the agent of upcoming renewals or lapsing subscriptions.
Even for companies that sell complex products or solutions, call center representatives can accommodate ancillary add-on purchases, replacement parts, service contracts, simple upgrades, extended warranties or other purchases that are more aligned to order processing than solution selling.
And maybe best of all, these additional revenues incur a much lower cost of sale.
For more complex sales, agents should be trained how to qualify a buying opportunity and route it to the right destination. Unqualified leads are normally routed to marketing to be included in nurture marketing campaigns. Qualified leads are routed to the salesforce for quick follow-up.
For more of an indirect selling opportunity, we've worked with clients to insert a linked promotion near the bottom of the post-incident customer satisfaction email. Sometimes, instead of a promotion, an incentive may be offered for a customer referral. Timing is everything so delivering an offer during the warm afterglow of a successful case resolution will yield sales order conversions. Our experience shows that relevant offers with good value propositions will achieve 4 to 7 percent conversions.