Having call centre agents acting as sales representatives is a growing opportunity for many companies. A recent survey of 121 companies by Aberdeen Group found that 60% sell products, services or support through their call centres, in addition to their original purpose.
According to the report, entitled 'Call centre: Customer Experience vs. Transaction Hub', customer support is the overwhelming first choice as an opportunity to initiate the sales process within the call centre, as 67% of best-in-class companies up-sell service during support calls (compared to the 54% industry average), while 43% are 'laggards' that do not.
Customer satisfaction was the number one factor given as the reason for providing customers with the ability to purchase from call centre agents. Customer satisfaction was 50% higher for best-in-class companies than for other companies.
When it comes to implementation, nearly half (47%) of the companies surveyed cited "integrating CRM data" as a key action to help provide call centre agents with the necessary support for selling products, services and support.
Providing revenue generating capabilities within the call centre (such as empowering agents with customer data to up-sell and cross-sell) is a mechanism for boosting profits and managing expenses. If done correctly, generating transactions within the call centre has a positive impact on both of these. According to the survey:
- Average revenue per call increased by 38% for best-in-class companies, compared to 27% for industry average companies, and only 10% for laggards.
- Three-quarters (76%) of best-in-class companies saw an improvement in customer satisfaction, compared to 61% of the industry average companies, and only 43% of laggards.
- Best-in-class companies saw the biggest reduction in the total cost of customer support, compared to all other companies.
The report makes a number of recommendations for companies wishing to gain the most benefit from call centre sales operations, including:
- Support a single point of resolution within the call centre by integrating CRM data into call centre systems;
- Consolidate customer and product data and provide agents with a 360-degree view of the customer, providing agents with better information to cross-sell and up-sell;
- Invest in training for call centre agents on the selling process (an average of US$1,000 per agent per year is suggested). Also develop scripts to assist in initiating customer discussions;
- Extend the current call centre technology stack (i.e. automated call routing, computer telephony integration, and integrated voice recognition) to include business process methodology and workflow;
- Implement processes to measure the total cost of customer support.
The report's author, Alan Hubbard, concluded: "Implementing a transaction hub is a fairly dramatic change within the call centre. Call centre agents need to evolve from information centres to profit centres. This requires new skills, training, processes and software. A call-centre as a transaction hub is more diverse and complex than one only suited for customer support. Firms must establish training and processes to meet success, and implement effective data and customer management processes, perhaps through pilot programmes."
Download the report
The full report has been made available for download (for free) for a limited time from Aberdeen Group's web site - click here.