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Written by: Laura Fitzgerald

Head of Brand and Digital Experience

Call centers are perceived as cost centers in larger organizations, especially support-oriented ones. This means that when an economic downturn hits, most businesses look to reduce costs by scaling down contact center operations first. 

However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Contact centers play a critical role in offering support to customers and making sure that people can reach out, provide feedback, place orders, and more. 

Needless to say, removing that channel altogether isn’t the wisest move. Instead, there are several strategies that you can implement in order to reduce costs in your contact center. Here are seven strategies that will help.

1. Invest in Self-Service Technologies

One of the best ways to reduce costs and call volumes readily is to invest in self-service technologies like interactive voice response systems (IVR). 

By leveraging pre-recorded messages and menu options, IVR systems empower customers to find solutions to their inquiries without needing a live agent. This technology is not just a cost-saving tool; it’s a customer service enhancer.

IVR systems can be automated to handle common inquiries that are repetitive but take up lots of time, such as account balances, payment processing, and FAQs. IVR reduces the overall call volume directed towards human agents. This shift allows agents to focus on more complex issues that require human intervention, thereby improving efficiency and reducing wait times.

And, unlike human agents, IVR systems operate round the clock. This constant availability ensures that customers receive immediate assistance regardless of the time, significantly improving customer satisfaction and reducing the need for a large after-hours workforce.

2. Improve Contact Center Security

Did you know that security events cost call centers hundreds of thousands of dollars? Protecting customer data in a contact center is of paramount importance, and as such, companies often spend a large chunk of money to ensure there are no security breaches. 

A secure contact center is synonymous with trust and reliability, which customers value immensely. By implementing advanced security solutions, businesses can prevent the significant financial and reputational damages associated with data breaches and fraud.

One of the most effective strategies in bolstering contact center security is adopting passive authentication technologies, such as Pindrop. 

Passive authentication solutions offer a seamless yet powerful way to verify callers’ identities without the need for extensive questioning or traditional knowledge-based authentication methods, saving time per call and ensuring security.

Pindrop’s technology, for example, utilizes a sophisticated form of voice biometrics and phone-printing technology. 

It analyzes various aspects of a call, such as the caller’s voice, the device type, and the call quality, to authenticate the caller’s identity silently and passively. 

This method ensures that the authentication process is unobtrusive, maintaining a smooth customer experience while providing a robust layer of security.

The benefits of such passive authentication solutions are twofold. Firstly, they save time for both the customer and the agent. Customers are spared the frustration of answering multiple security questions, leading to a more pleasant interaction with the contact center. 

For agents, the reduced time spent on authentication allows for more focus on resolving the customer’s query or issue, enhancing productivity.

3. Invest in Agent Training and Development

Investing in agent training and development is a strategy that, while initially appearing counterintuitive as a cost-cutting measure, can yield significant long-term savings and efficiency gains for contact centers.

The key to understanding the cost-saving potential of investing in agent training lies in the direct correlation between well-trained agents and reduced call-handling times. Skilled agents are more adept at understanding customer queries, navigating systems, and providing accurate solutions promptly. 

This efficiency not only enhances customer satisfaction but also allows agents to handle a greater volume of calls within the same time frame, thereby reducing the need for a larger workforce. 

Furthermore, comprehensive training programs significantly reduce error rates and the need for call escalations. When agents are well-equipped with product knowledge, company policies, and effective communication skills, they are less likely to make mistakes that could lead to costly resolutions, such as refunds, redos, or compensations. 

Additionally, skilled agents are more capable of resolving issues without escalating to higher-level staff, further reducing costs associated with senior personnel.

4. Automate Repetitive Tasks by Leveraging AI

Yes, like all industries, AI has impacted contact centers too. A common application of AI in contact centers is through chatbots and virtual assistants. These AI tools can manage basic customer interactions, such as answering frequently asked questions, providing account balances, or updating personal information. 

For example, a bank’s contact center might use an AI chatbot to handle simple queries about account balances or recent transactions, which typically form a large chunk of daily call volume.

Another area where AI is making significant inroads is in predictive analytics. AI systems can analyze vast amounts of data to predict common issues or questions, allowing the contact center to proactively address these before the customer even makes a call. 

For instance, a telecommunications company might use AI to identify patterns in service outages and proactively inform customers about the issue and the estimated resolution time, thereby reducing the influx of calls to the center.

AI is also being used for after-call work automation. Once a call is concluded, AI can assist in automatically updating customer records, processing orders, or scheduling follow-up tasks. This not only reduces the manual workload for agents but also ensures accuracy and consistency in record-keeping.

5. Streamline Your Workforce Based on Analytical Data

By leveraging data analytics, contact centers can gain deep insights into various aspects of their operations, enabling them to make informed decisions about workforce management.

One of the key benefits of using analytical data is the ability to accurately forecast call volumes and customer demand patterns. By analyzing historical data, contact centers can identify peak hours, seasonal trends, and other factors influencing call volumes. 

This knowledge allows for precise staffing, ensuring that the contact center is neither understaffed, which could lead to long wait times and poor customer service, nor overstaffed, which results in unnecessary labor costs. 

Another important aspect is the optimization of shift planning and scheduling. Data analytics can provide insights into the most efficient shift patterns, considering factors like call duration, resolution times, and agent availability. 

This ensures that the right number of agents with the appropriate skills are available at the right times, thus improving service levels and reducing overtime costs.

6. Implement Strategies to Reduce Inbound Call Volume

One effective strategy to achieve this is by providing alternate channels of information and support so customers have various options to resolve their queries without always resorting to calling.

One such alternate channel is a comprehensive and user-friendly FAQ section on the company’s website. By anticipating common questions and providing detailed answers, many customer queries can be resolved without needing a phone call. 

Regularly updating this section based on the evolving needs and feedback of customers ensures that it remains relevant and useful. Another key strategy is the use of online chatbots and virtual assistants. These AI-powered tools can handle a wide range of inquiries in real-time, from basic product information to troubleshoot common issues. 

The immediacy and convenience of chatbots can be particularly appealing to customers who prefer digital communication over phone calls. Social media platforms also offer a valuable avenue for reducing call volumes. 

Many customers now turn to social media for quick responses to their inquiries. Having a dedicated team to manage and respond to customer queries on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can not only reduce call volume but also improve customer satisfaction and engagement.

7. Switch to Cloud-Based Hosting

Instead of having bulky hardware on the office floor and spending large sums of money to maintain it, why not switch to cloud-based hosting to save money in your contact center?

Traditional on-premises setups require substantial upfront investment in hardware, software, and IT infrastructure, not to mention the ongoing costs of maintenance and upgrades. 

Cloud-based solutions, on the other hand, typically operate on a subscription-based model, offering scalable services that match the contact center’s specific needs. This pay-as-you-go approach means contact centers can avoid large capital expenditures and only pay for the resources they use.

Cloud services provide unparalleled scalability and flexibility. Contact centers can easily scale up or down based on their current demand, ensuring they are not paying for unused capacity during off-peak periods or struggling with insufficient resources during high-volume times. 

This scalability is crucial for adapting to seasonal fluctuations, promotional campaigns, or unexpected spikes in call volume.

Cloud providers invest heavily in ensuring high levels of reliability and uptime. With data stored in the cloud, contact centers benefit from robust disaster recovery and backup solutions, minimizing the risk of data loss and downtime. 

Prioritize Security to Mitigate Unforeseen Incidents in the Call Center

Most companies don’t realize just how much money is spent each year on ensuring security in the contact center. Using a tool like Pindrop makes it easy for businesses to not only protect customer data but also help provide a smooth authentication process for callers. 

Curious to know how Pindrop helps contact centers? Request a demo today!