Cost-cutting fervour misses revenue opportunities

The all-too-familiar return on investment (ROI) mantra has reduced technology investments to an exercise in basic cost cutting.

After such a prolonged period of using technology to reduce costs, Genesys Australia managing director James Brooks said it will be tough to overcome the cost cutting expectations of C-Level executives.

However, he said Australian business leaders are doomed to fail if they do not broaden the scope of their technology investments and realise the strategic value of IT.

"Companies will pay marketing millions to speak to their own customers when call centre staff speak to customers every day and are the first point of contact, so they often know more about the organisation than the CEO," Brooks said.

While Genesys has enjoyed double-digit growth in the past 12 months and Brooks claims there has actually been an increase in call centre technology spending, he warned companies are still investing for the wrong reasons.

Instead of making customer-focused decisions they are often about ROI, he said, claiming the time has come to redefine the role played by call centres in organisations.

"When it comes to call centres there is an overly excessive focus on cost efficiency with the prevailing attitude that they are cost centres rather than revenue-generating opportunities; call centres interact daily with the customer base and by capitalising on this organisations can redefine contact centres as profit centres," Brooks said.

It is ironic, he said, that organisations often try to deal with customers in contact centres by getting them off the phone as quickly as possible looking to constantly drive down the cost of serving customers.

"Then they hand over buckets of money to marketing to try to contact customers," he said.

Genesys User Group chairman and Australian Taxation Office senior assistant commissioner John Ryan agreed that contact centres have the most consistent and intimate relationship with the customer base.

However, he said that, a "hell of a lot of data to manage", it is a technological challenge to have an enterprise 'client view' in the contact centre.

"Call centre agents can be dealing with 12 different applications to manage one customer enquiry and often don't have a single view; community expectations are always ahead of our ability to make improvements," Ryan said.

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