While always seen as important, customer service has traditionally been viewed as an overhead or cost to the business. Companies understand that it plays a vital role in onboarding and retaining customers, but they’ve not been able to link it to actual revenues.
That meant that the major focus within the contact centre was on improving productivity and reducing costs without impacting customer satisfaction. Technologies such as AI, automation and self-service have all helped successfully increase efficiency while improving support for agents to help them deliver faster, better service to customers.
However, organisations are now starting to look much more closely at the positive impact of the contact centre on revenues. Where does it contribute to the bottom line in a measurable way? There are three main areas to focus on:
1. Greater retention of customers
Over half (52%) of customers say they will leave a business if they experience poor service. Other research suggests that increasing customer retention by just 5% increases a business’s profits by between 25-95%. And we all know that it costs less to keep an existing customer than recruiting a new one.
Adding to this, it is now much easier for dissatisfied customers to switch, particularly due to the rise of online competitors. Also, for companies that charge a monthly subscription, from many gyms to entertainment companies such as Netflix and Spotify, poor service will cause customers to immediately cancel their contracts, directly hitting revenues.
Proving the link between customer service that retains customers and the bottom line is now much easier. You can analyse this at a high level, comparing rises in metrics such as Net Promoter Score with revenue increases or drill into customer segments or even individuals. For example, customer feedback surveys can analyse if a poor customer service interaction has triggered a customer to leave and provide insights on how this can be avoided in future. Equally, they can be analysed to see where an agent’s intervention has saved the relationship and safeguarded future revenues.
2. Making it easy to upsell and cross-sell
Clearly happier customers are more loyal and likely to spend more with your business. And it is possible to build on this to use customer service interactions as an opportunity to upsell or cross-sell products.
Obviously, the key is to be mindful of the circumstances in which you do this. If a customer is calling to complain, then trying to sell them a new service will only be counter-productive and alienate them further.
However, there are ways that technology can be used to spot opportunities and support agents to increase revenues. For example, AI can analyse customer interactions and identify the best products and services to offer customers based on the queries and their purchase history. For example, if a customer on a chat with a customer service agent is asking about different TVs you could suggest relevant accessories for their purchase.
3. Use insights to drive measurable improvements
Listening to your customers, and acting on the insights that they provide, delivers a third, powerful way to boost revenue. Incorporating customer service interactions into your Voice of the Customer (VoC) programmes gives a more detailed view of what customers are asking about, what they like, and what causes dissatisfaction.
Looking at this unstructured data using AI gives real-world information around particular pain points that may not be captured by later feedback surveys. For example, if 10% of your customers are complaining about delivery via customer service channels, then extracting and using this insight to fix the issue can reduce customer churn and positively impact revenue.
AI and Natural Language Processing can also be used in real-time to improve service and measurably safeguard revenues, by:
- Identifying customers who are at risk of churn during an interaction (and potentially escalating them to more experienced staff to respond/offer incentives to stay)
- Learning which customers are brand advocates so that you can nurture the relationship. For example by asking people who have a really positive customer interaction to leave a review.
- Gathering helpful feedback and insights which can be used to plan agent training
- Recognising where there is unsatisfied demand for new products and services. For example, if 90% of queries about a particular T-shirt ask if it is available in red, then launching a version in that colour will be a good idea.
- Understanding and segmenting customers to deliver personalised marketing messages/campaigns
The combination of AI and more powerful analytics are transforming the position of customer service, moving it beyond being viewed as a cost centre. Using these insights, at scale and linking them to measurable impacts adds a new dimension to how customer service is viewed, opening up new revenue opportunities that will benefit the bottom line.