Running a contact center can be expensive. While many companies still rely on contact centers for customer service needs, it doesn’t always translate well to revenue contribution. However, thanks to recent advances in conversational technology and automation, this might be changing.

Balancing Customer Support with Company Costs

Many companies rely on contact centers filled with human agents to handle a wide variety of customer needs, including information requests, product questions, and more. Depending on a company’s needs, that could mean dozens or hundreds of agents.

Hiring, training and paying for those agents doesn’t come cheap. One survey found the average annual cost of training just one agent is $6,400. Another suggests the cost is roughly 16% of an agent’s salary, plus an estimated 8-12 months of training to be considered proficient.

Any additional technology to support agents is another cost. One study suggests companies spend roughly $4000 per license, per year on contact center tech. If contact centers are staying in physical locations, they could be spending close to $500K a year for an on-premises system.

That’s a lot of sunk costs before contact centers could start seeing profits.

Increasing Efficiency With Technology

However, some companies that rely heavily on contact centers are shifting the focus of their spending. Rather than spending money on hiring people to answer phones, they are now investing in technology that can improve efficiency, drive down training costs, and even increase customer revenue.

Chat bots are a great example of how technology is helping contact centers operate faster and leaner. As customers continue to shift to online platforms, chat bots are a great tool to help answer immediate questions or concerns. They also have the ability to identify when someone needs more help or information that cannot be processed by machine learning technology yet, and then hand off the call to a human customer service representative who can handle it.

Conversational AI tools, including Real-Time Guidance platforms like Balto, are also helping contact centers operate more efficiently. However, where technology like chat bots can help reduce the amount of customers needing an agent, conversational AI enables agents to answer questions faster, get better call results, and keep customers happier.

For example, National General Insurance used Real-Time Guidance to give sales agents the best discovery questions and saw a 16% increase in sales after 14 weeks – and meant tens of millions in new revenue. At the same time, National General’s claims team cut 53 seconds off their AHT, saving hundreds of thousands in the process.

Conversational AI bridges the gap between cutting costs while increasing customer satisfaction and retention. As AI continues to advance, tools like Real-Time Guidance will continue to improve.

Becoming the Profit Center

The trend of companies investing in customer-facing technology has grown over the last few years and has led to a shift in contact center budgets. Rather than spending money on human labor, companies are now able to use that budget for technology and tools that increase efficiency and save them more time and money than before.

The focus has shifted from hiring people to answer phones all day long towards making sure customers get the information they need about their products, when they need it.

The contact center is becoming a more powerful source of revenue for companies as they invest in tools that can automate tasks previously done by humans, and improve the customer experience at the same time. Contact centers are going to continue to play a more important role in company profits as these tools become more sophisticated.