How To Build A Business Case For Customer Service Investments

Kate Leggett
Vice President, Principal Analyst
November 12, 2012

We know that investing in customer service is good for business and can positively impact your revenue. However, building a business case for customer service investments is challenging, as you must understand the benefits and associated costs of the investments.

For some customer service technologies, such as workforce management, email, and chat, the business benefits are very clear. For other customer service technologies, such as social customer service or knowledge management, the business benefits are more difficult to precisely quantify. Yet in all cases, business benefits fall into one of three categories: reducing operational costs, improving productivity, or enhancing the customer experience. Examples include:

 

Technology

Business benefit

 

Reducing operational costs by…

Improving agent productivity by…

Increasing customer satisfaction by…

Chat

– Resolving customer issues with shorter average speeds to answer (ASA)

– Reducing the average interaction cost

Reducing re-contact rates

– Increasing the number of concurrent chat sessions that agents handle, compared with phone interactions

– Engaging customers on channels that they want to use

– Recovering customers before they abandon a transaction

– Educating customers on appropriate products or services

Knowledge management

 – Deflecting contacts from the contact center

 – Reducing non-compliance penalties due to standardized answers

– Decreasing agent training times

-Reducing costs of on-site support

– Empowering agents with standardized answers for faster resolution times

-Improving content findability rates

-Proactively pushing contextual content to the agent’s desktop

-Reducing errors causing rework

-Providing customers with accurate, relevant, and complete answers

– Increasing the availability of self-service content

– Reducing the customer effort score

Proactive notification

-Deflecting contacts from the contact center

-Reducing telecom charges

-Increasing automation (e.g., for collection services)

-Empowering agents with contextual alerts and notifications

 -Communicating to customers timely and time-sensitive information

-Delivering information using customer communication preferences

Be pragmatic about calculating costs, and focus on the investment required to bring this new initiative, application, or technology online as compared with the cost of maintaining the current environment. Types of costs to consider include:

  • IT and technical infrastructure. These costs will vary based on the licensing model of the application – whether it's a cloud-based or an on-premises application. Don't forget to factor in the number of application environments — such as development, testing, and production — you need.
  • Labor. External and in-house resources and work effort required to complete a customer service technology project, which depends on the amount of customization and the amount of third-party application integration required to link other data systems such as transactional systems, billing systems, and legacy databases.
  • Training. Training costs generally include fees paid to software vendors or third-party professional services organizations for end user training about the new technology. Don't forget to estimate the cost of lost productivity that will be incurred due to customer service agents having to ramp up and learn new screens, navigation, and application functionality as well as attend training sessions.

To read more about creating a comprehensive business case for your customer service projects, see my latest Forrester report.

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