From the frozen ground of the Great Recession, “green shoots” for the U.S. economy are emerging, and one of them is a new report issued by the Retail Industry leaders Association (RILA) and Auburn University College of Business.
The study – based on a survey of retail supply chain executives – has significant implications for companies utilizing outsourced call center services. The State of the Retail Supply Chain Report reveals a major shift in emphasis from cost containment to customer service. Nearly 40 percent of the executives covered by the survey report they will focus on a balanced service and cost strategy for this year.
This is a departure from sentiments reported during the height of the recession, when the majority of managers emphasized cost cutting. But in the new survey, a mere 12 percent said the primary focus will be on cost control.
To all of this we say that cost containment and customer service are mutually inclusive. That’s the good news for retail executives: Outsourced call center services pursue both agendas simultaneously.
On the quality side, a customer service call center is staffed with specialists trained in the art and science of delivering a great customer experience, of expressing and articulating a company’s brand and (unlike many in-house call center workers) whose only function is delivering customer service: answering product questions, order taking and order processing, live chat and handling email inquiries. That is, they are not distracted by other duties.
In addition, outsourced call centers constantly improve the customer service, cross-selling and upselling skills of their staffs, enabling clients to realize maximized average sales orders.
On the cost side, a customer service call center is a honed, optimized operation. Call center services managers are adept at wringing maximized efficiencies from both the call center IT infrastructure and their customer service specialists who deliver call center services.
When companies utilize customer service outsourcing, they get a highly scalable resource that can quickly add, or reduce, the staff working on their programs – without the complexities of hiring or laying off employees. Thus, staffing levels can be quickly adjusted to seasonal variations in call volume.
In addition, outsourced providers offer – or should offer – the latest in call center services phone systems and program tracking and reporting software, saving companies significant IT investment and maintenance costs.
So whether the priority is cutting business costs or improving the customer experience, a good outsourced call center services provider can help achieve both objectives.
Mark Fichera, CEO