Operational Cost Reduction through a focus adjustment

5 steps to a brighter future 

Steve Layer MBA

Steve Layer MBA

Customer Experience Visionary, Public Speaker, Organisational Leader

For over 30 years, Steve has been immersed in crafting better experiences with major corporations. His breadth of experience spans Telecommunications, Entertainment, Financial and Hospitality industries. Throughout his own professional journey, experiences in face to face through remote and digital customer interactions uniquely position his analysis and vision for refining the customer company relationship for the current and future change filled business environments.

Enablement of Productivity improvement in the Customer Experience Supply Chain

Reducing cost while enhancing organisational fit

Regardless of the lofty strategic goals of organisations to transform to eloquent delivery of the customer experience, one fact remains – it must be cost effective. Even in governmental or non-profit endeavours, resources are limited especially financial ones. This creates the dilemma of cost versus service, which one to choose?

What if you didn’t need to choose?

The organisation is not going to in the proverbial lottery and even if it did, it may not dedicate it to the customer experience. “What if” is extremely significant in discovering how to deal with limited resources.

In order to effect cost savings, the most significant, costly legs of the experience must be reduced. Even the less costly should not be dismissed as important, because the exercise is a net cumulative reduction being sought.

The cost to experience problem, however, is not a dilemma as many may think. It’s not and ‘either or’ choice. The problem needs to be seen holistically.

Customer Effort = Cost

The more effort customers expend in contacting the organisation, the more cost is driven to interact with the customer. Hence, a reduction in customer effort drives as reduction in cost. A reduction in customer effort yields an increase in satisfaction. Increased satisfaction yields an engaged, promoting customer driving revenue.

This is the crucial organisational challenge facing organisations today and in the future.

The path to the (brighter) future

#1

Set your goals

Often data falls short in two ways. One, it is siloed. Web to IVR to Agent back to Web to Agent is only seen in three separate buckets; Web, IVR and Contact Centre. It is critical to link the inter dependencies of multi channel (or omnichannel) journeys to understand the cause and effect. 

The causation of a poor IVR won’t show that it causes the transfer from Agent to Agent. Two, it is summarised already. The system for call routing provides an AHT measure based on its calculation, not the micro-level event data. This data is top down analysis and subject to skew based on the system it is pulled from.

Make your decisions based on real data

This is a critical step and needs to be entered into with a long term vision. When setting your goals, don’t just say ‘reduce cost by 10% in contact centres’ as that is your latest financial goal. Instead, reframe your viewpoint to say ‘reduce 10% of the effort customers spend interacting with us’. 

The result of this view broadens the goal from a single cost centre to holistic customer experience improvement. This means that you are now focused on reducing the experience as the customer moves through it. If the web is failing, the cost is driven to the agent. If the IVR is poor, the agents who cannot handle the contact needs to transfer.

#2

datatrack real time dashbaord

To base your analysis and decisions accurately, you need to Collect and Connect the Data in a fashion which supports micro-event level correlation throughout. This then sets the basis for substantive analysis.

#3

Make it simply visual

Become engaged with your data to drive visualisations of the interdependencies. This can be described in thousands of words, but why type when a picture will do.

As represented on the image, the customer effort is highest in this cluster (301) and a loop has begun from webpage P425 to Account Management to webpage P425 to Account Management. The loop is doubling volume. The ‘fix’ is in the web, the cost reduction is in the contact centre.

Take Action on your data

Based on leveraging your solid data, place actions into place. These rules based actions move decision point to the ‘left’ (earlier in interaction flow). As an example, a simple rule that says customer X spoke with Agent A and CRM resolution was reset cable box. Customer X calls back within 2 hours. 

IVR dynamic rule moves from Agent A (general care) to technical care. The customer won’t be asked what they did, as this is presented in the journey to Agent B in Technical Care.

Handle time and transfer and customer hold time are reduced. This benefit scales quickly.

#4

#5

Monitor and Monitor and be Proactive

Continual monitoring of Customer Effort is crucial to continual improvement. Real time data must be fed to allow for the identification and action on high effort occurrences. When this happens, you are reacting so quickly that the tens, hundreds and even thousands of others who may have experienced higher effort never do, hence a proactive solution for much of the customer base.


In summary, Cost reduction is a focus on a cost centre. Effort reduction is a focus on experience improvement with the by product of significant cost reduction. Doing this right with a skilled partner has yielded in year ROI in excess 300%. Anyone ant to triple the return on an investment in a year?

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