Cutting Costs in the IP Contact Center Part 2

In a separate ININ blog entry there’s a discussion going on about expectations regarding cost reductions using VoIP. To recap the discussion, executives might expect reductions in their telephony costs that may not materialize in the move to VoIP. Even as carrier costs drop, networking costs might rise to accommodate increased bandwidth requirements. It’s clear that planning is a critical part of any TDM-to-VoIP migration, both to set proper expectations, and to ensure a successful migration from both the technical and business perspectives.

Rather than get into the mud wrestling over traditional TDM vs. VoIP costs, I’d like to concentrate on other capabilities VoIP offers for the contact center. For starters, many TDM-based systems do not easily enable at-home agents. Most VoIP contact center systems include presence management as well as the ability to route interactions to a user no matter where they are located, making at-home agents a viable option. From a cost-cutting perspective, for most organizations, at-home agents can be hired at a lower salary—the convenience factor, lack of commuting costs, and reduced facility requirements can translate into big savings for the employee and your company. Add to that the ability to hire part time workers who can sign on and take interactions during peak periods, and now you’re really talking about doing more for less while improving your service levels.

Let’s expand on that idea a bit further. Since labor costs are one of the highest costs in the contact center, along with part time workers, putting some flexibility in the scheduling of full time agents can also save you a bundle. Staggering start times, break times, lunch times, etc. gives you the ability to put people where they need to be when the traffic demands more agents. For most organizations, you’ll find that you can reduce costs by using workforce management technology to find the optimal schedule, and that the jump can grow even more by moving to flexible schedules. For example, one of our customers, a public utility, mentioned that they saw a 40% drop in blocked lines after deploying this strategy. They did not have to go out and hire a large number of new agents—simply by being a little more flexible and using workforce management, they were able to significantly improve their service levels.

Finally, in using Real Time Adherence as part of your workforce management strategy, you ensure that those home-based agents, as well as your full time agents, are where they need to be and available when scheduled to be so. Presuming that your schedules make the most of your team, you want to strongly encourage the members to adhere to the schedule as much as possible in order to save money and provide the appropriate level of service to your customers.

Do you have additional cost cutting ideas? We’d love to hear them!

Rachel Wentink