As organizations emphasize the importance of providing an exceptional customer experience, investments in technology that can maximize every customer contact – and the tools required to manage that technology – are becoming essential. The long overlooked contact center is re-emerging as an important component of the customer experience and a valuable information-gathering tool.

Historically, the contact center has been viewed as a cost center, and companies tried to automate as much as possible in order to minimize those costs. However, organizations are increasingly viewing the contact center as a profit center, capable of improving customer loyalty and informing customer relationship management (CRM) processes, both of which can boost the bottom line.

More specifically, improved contact center technology and processes will improve customer service and retention by enabling agents to anticipate customer issues and solve their problems more quickly. This can lead to positive word-of-mouth and reduce the risk of unhappy customers sharing their grievances on social media. All customer service channels, including voice, email, social media, chat and text, are integrated on the same screen, allowing agents to quickly view a customer’s history across all channels instead of bouncing between windows.

From a bottom-line standpoint, smart contact center investments can increase operational efficiency and feed sales teams with valuable data that can be used to generate more revenue. Every step of the customer journey can be recorded, measured and evaluated, allowing organizations to optimize the customer experience.

To realize these benefits, many organizations will need to upgrade or completely overhaul their contact center infrastructure, including agent tools, management applications and analytics software. Understanding today’s contact center technology and the total cost of ownership (TCO) is vital to making the right investment choices.

According to a recent study from Nemertes Research, the most commonly used contact center tools include:

  • Automatic Call Distributor (ACD), which routes calls to specific groups of agents according to predefined rules and instructions.
  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR), which allows customers to utilize a self-service process or enter information using the key pad or voice responses.
  • Call Recording, which records conversations between agents and customers.
  • Workforce Optimization, which integrates performance, analytics, workforce management, strategic planning and agent management tools.
  • Skills-Based Routing, which assigns inquiries to the most suitable agent instead of the first available agent.

Calculating TCO for contact center technology involves three metrics – capital costs for hardware, software and licenses; implementation costs for in-house personnel and outside vendors to install, configure and deploy the solution; and ongoing operational costs for staffing, management, training, certification, equipment maintenance and third-party vendors.

When choosing a contact center solution and vendor, it’s important to look at TCO, not just upfront costs. While capital costs are easy to compare and can be negotiated, operational costs can vary greatly. Operational costs can be difficult to assess until you use the system, so request references and use real-world data from other organizations as a guide. Make sure the solution you choose includes the features you require and can be integrated with existing business applications. Consider how long it takes to deploy a new contact center solution, because a long deployment means higher implementation costs. Finally, explore all deployment models, including cloud and hybrid, which can speed implementation and make costs more predictable.

Are you ready to turn your contact center into a profit center? Let IPC help you choose a cost-effective solution that is aligned with your business operations and objectives.