Of course we know that investing in customer service is good for business. But building the business case for customer service training, or training equipment, can be hard work as not all the benefits are easy to measure financially.
Even as the economy brightens, budget holders are still sceptical of woolly, hard-to-measure benefits and costs. Luckily there are ways to build a compelling case.
Of customer service investments generally, Kate Leggett at Forrester says, “business benefits fall into one of three categories: reducing operational costs, improving productivity, or enhancing the customer experience.”
1. Reducing operational costs with FCR
The holy grail for contact centres over the last few years has been first contact resolution (FCR). How many calls coming in to your organisation are repeat calls, and how much are they costing you?
Multiply the number of repeat calls by your average cost per call. For example, say you receive 100,000 calls each month and the average cost per call is £5. If the industry average of 30% (30,000) are repeat calls, you are spending £150,000 on repeat calls every month.
Reducing the number of these calls by just 10% would save £15,000 every month. Over a year, that may start to look like an attractive investment, even after training costs are taken into account.
2. Improving agent productivity
As well as FCR, targeted training can result in faster time to resolution. What would a 10% reduction in call times mean for your business? Will it have a significant effect on the number of calls an agent can handle, and therefore the number of agents needed?
This will impact recruitment and desk space costs. Ask your finance and HR specialists for these.
3. Increasing customer satisfaction
Remember that not all benefits in the business case have to be financial. Studies have shown that improved FCR and faster resolution times impact other metrics, such as customer satisfaction and loyalty. These are high strategic priorities for many businesses.
Ultimately, they lead to more revenue. But it can be hard to untangle an increase in revenue, which may be impacted by many factors like marketing and the economy, against a single investment. Satisfaction and loyalty scores are relatively easy to measure before and after a training programme or pilot, and may give more credibility to your business case.
4. Be realistic about costs
Obviously there is a cost for hiring third-party training providers, plus venue and travel costs.
If you’re running in-house training there are costs for materials, labour and possibly space costs for training rooms. Check with your finance department how to treat these.
Also, don’t forget the cost of lost productivity while agents are away from their desks while on training courses.
5. Compare the options
A solid business case compares 2 or 3 different options, and (hopefully) recommends the one that delivers the most benefits with the least amount of risk.
Do a simple pros and cons table comparing the costs and benefits of customer service training against other options that may help achieve similar benefits. For example, introducing live chat or a new knowledge management system.
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