In 2022, the Federal Government in the US witnessed 7 episodes of interest rate hikes. An interest rate hike is a counter measure to control the continuous growth in consumer goods prices throughout the year. While interest rates were hiked, another global phenomenon unfolded–the employment market was hit severely.
According to The Guardian, the US saw a 6% increase in job cuts for the first 11 months in 2022 compared to 2021. And high-profile companies such as Amazon, Twitter, Meta, Vimeo, Salesforce, and more, which typically undergo mass hiring, were laying off people in masses.
“78% of workers are worried about losing their jobs in the next recession, and we’re seeing more articles about how small and medium-sized businesses can work to “recession-proof” their companies. - Insight Global”.
What have we learned from historical events?
Let’s not deny that last year and specially the last few months have been hard.
History shows several economic downturns have come and gone, but we can only prevent one when we see it. We’ve heard of the Great Depression of 1929–1939 that swallowed the livelihoods of an entire generation, and many of us lived through the housing market collapse–The Great Recession of 2007–2009. The cascading effects of the recession had caught the entire world off-guard, and the consequences were devastating. Then came the 2020 Pandemic, which again left the whole world stranded.
While the pandemic didn’t offer us much time to defend ourselves, we can’t overlook the calculated risks of an upcoming recession.
So, the next logical question businesses and employers must ask themselves is how to strategize business operations to get through a downturn with minimum tremours.
Do you run a call center in your organization?
Call centers can make your business recession-proof. Before you jump to conclusions, hear me out.
During the recession, there are typically only two ways to survive:
- Generate new revenue
- Generate revenue from existing customers'
Customer acquisition is like squeezing water from a stone. The effort is higher; the impact is low and short-lived.
So, the cost associated with acquiring a new customer is 5 to 25 times more costly. Plus, a 5% improvement in customer retention could convert into a 25% to 95% increase in profitability.
Clearly, customer retention and repeat purchase is a safer bet.
A satisfied customer is more likely to trust a company they have previously done business with than a new one. And in times of turmoil, it’s human tendency to seek help and services from trustworthy names.
But what can you do to improve customer satisfaction and retention to survive a recession?
I’ll share 5 primary ways you can improve customer retention with the help of your contact center.
5 Ways to Recession-proof your Business With An Automated Call Center.
Before we get to automation, let’s discuss the different areas that need attention to prepare contact center leaders before an economic downturn.
1. Focus On Customer Experience
Every organization must(if not) track NPS and CSAT scores. When an economic uncertainty like a recession hits the market, the CSAT score needs tracking a little more aggressively.
Every interaction across support and sales channels must meet specific CX criteria and benchmarks. Moreover, the customer's sensitive and emotional analysis shouldn’t leave your sight.
Agents need extensive training on;
- How to tackle frustrated and angry customers?
- How to make existing customers stay?
- How to invest more time in offering better service than upselling products?
- How to offer discounts and subsidized prices in hours of need?
- How can we empathize with customers who face difficulties at work or in business?
Work towards building customer loyalty and driving repeat purchases to protect existing revenue and generate fresh sales revenue.
2. Optimize costs early
Cost per call is another parameter that needs leaders' attention. Unless there’s visibility into how much cost is associated with a customer call, optimizing the cost at the right stage is difficult.
With the help of cost per call, managers can find areas of efficiencies in the call center and optimize:
- Number of customer calls per agent
- Number of call audits per QA
- Overhead costs
- Agent onboarding and ramp-up time
- Training and coaching cost
- Wages, incentives, and other benefits
- Software subscriptions
Optimization of cost doesn’t mean creating a gap in customer satisfaction. Optimization steps taken early on can ensure customers receive services with the same standard from the beginning.
By improving the efficiency of the operation, agents and QA, in turn, make the customer conversations productive–
- Reduce the AHT,
- Improve FCR rate,
- Offer customers relevant information,
- Start accessing knowledge base,
- Apply feedbacks aggressively,
- And many other changes are implemented.
3. Don’t let agents go; give them better tool.
Rather than showing the exit gate to your agents, provide better tools to make them 10X efficient in doing the same job.
Help your agents with;
- Clear opportunity insights
- Win loss behavior analysis
- Knowledge Base
- Daily Feedback
- Targeted coaching
- Real-time guidance(Live Assist)
An organization can benefit more from AI-backed agents than an agent working in the absence of technology.
4. Change Where Conversation Takes Place
As per a study by Kayako, around 41% of consumers prefer live chat support, versus 32% prefer phone support.
Omnichannel contact centers are the future. And no one can escape the transition.
An agent on chat can solve quick and less complicated queries, while complex problems with no quick resolution may need a phone call. Sometimes, a mandatory email makes it easy to escalate matters or start/ stop services.
Switching with customer-preferred support channels ensures customers don’t switch to other players. It’s a simple change and requires minimum effort.
On that note, Convin now supports omnichannel contact center conversation auditing to help our customers align with their client’s preferred channels.
5. Adapt to building contact center flexibility
One of the biggest chunks of the overhead cost is associated with the infrastructure of the call centers- somewhere around 20-30%.
If your agents go remote, you can get an additional saving of 30% cost on physical office space and other utility expenses. This doesn’t save you from hardware and software costs yet, but it’s an intelligent cost optimization technique.
Saved costs can be invested in modern technology and channels that support remote contact center operations. Cost invested in building a remote workforce will ensure customer interactions are not disrupted and agents offer the same quality of service as in a physical premise.
Results first, payment later.
How Does An Automated Call Center Benefit Companies?
The above methods of making your contact center recession-proof and building a customer-friendly call center need a little more than strategies.
Call centers need to embrace automation in critical areas of customer service.
Automated call centers have an impressive impact on call center parameters such as:
- Call quality
- Agent onboarding and ramp-up time
- Compliance monitoring
- Retention rate
- Repeat purchases
- Sales revenue
- Collection rate
Clearly, automation has the potential to 10X agent and operational efficiency to generate faster business results.
At Convin, automated call centers are built with the four pillars:
- Automated QA
- Automated Conversational Behavior Analysis
- Automated Agent Coaching
- Automated Customer Intelligence.
For example, Auto QA can improve call coverage from 1-2% to 100%, highlighting the possibility of customer churn and offering cues on customer intelligence. Agents can use the insights to maximize their efforts in the right direction.
“Intelligent Automation typically results in cost savings of 40 percent to 75 percent, with the payback ranging from several months to several years.”- David KirkBrand Contributor KPMG
Evidently, facts aren’t hidden. Companies are making profits out of one-time investments in automation. And fighting recession while holding onto existing customers is achievable by automating contact centers at scale.
A downturn is in progress. However, can’t stress more the fact that there are better methods to survive economic uncertainty. An automated call center aligned with customer experience management is a good place to start.