We’ve all seen them – those sales presentations stuffed with graphs, spreadsheets and charts that portend that all you need to do is sign a contract, and you’ll ascend to great heights as the financial savings hero within your company. Now I’ll ask the rhetorical question, “Have those promised savings ever really been found?”
I have seen some of the best presentations from some of the most commission-rich sales reps. Impressive analyses validate the pre conceived notions of executives who are easily deceived by numbers that can be molded and shaped to tell a certain story. Stories that aren’t always based in reality.
I’m frequently called “the crank in the corner office” because it’s my job to dispassionately challenge proposals and investment requests in order to make sound decisions on behalf of my stakeholders.
If you own a similar responsibility – or are trying to sell contact center automation to someone like me, read on
Myth No. 1
“This new project will dramatically reduce the number of agents. It will virtually pay for itself within months.”
While this sounds nice, you need to ask yourself if the real problem is the number of agents, or what your agents are spending their time doing?
In most organizations, giving the customer service agents the time and data to truly help your customers will result in greater long-term value than simply cutting payroll cost. Allowing a few more minutes of personalized attention – an actual conversation – has been shown to not only defuse the issue prompting the call but also lead to additional sales and, perhaps it will generate the shocking customer survey comment, “They actually cared about helping me.”
Getting there should start with deflecting the low-value repetitive calls that an effective self-service application can provide. Add to that effective agent scheduling and performance metrics, and you have the beginnings of a great customer service function. It’s size, no longer an issue.
Myth No. 2
“This new project will dramatically increase your customer satisfaction. It will pay for itself through increased sales due to improvement in CSAT and customer loyalty.”
Today’s customers don’t want to be pleased – they just want the ability to resolve their needs by exerting the least amount of effort possible. The new portrait of a “happy customer” is one who you haven’t given cause to pause and ask themselves, “Why am I having to work so hard to do business with this company?”
That means tracking CSAT scores, and assuming that an increase in those scores will result in greater loyalty and/or greater sales, is no longer valid. Put another way, this kind of talk looks good in a spreadsheet, but I wouldn’t stake your bonus on it.
As a corollary to the first myth, don’t burden you agents with calls that neither party really wants to have. The customer just wants a resolution, and the agent’s potential value is marginalized.
Myth No. 3
“This new project will dramatically decrease the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your technology infrastructure. That means budgets will be freed up to take on even more backlogged projects.”
Did the sales rep also tell you that they are proposing a forklift upgrade and a 10-year benefit period?
Unless you are planning to make a fundamental change from truly antiquated technology, most organizations have the core infrastructure that can be extended to support implementing a wide array of significant value-add capabilities in a way that is cost-effective.
“Moving to the cloud” doesn’t mean shuttering your entire data center. Adding an intuitive IVR does not require replacing your switch. Deploying an interactive outbound/inbound suite of customer service applications does not require replacing your agent stack. But, avoiding these unnecessary (but sales commissionable) purchases does require going outside of the major manufacturer’s price book.
From Avaya to Genesis – great core infrastructure exists that can be extended, augmented and/or fronted with killer apps at a fraction of the risk and cost of a wholesale replacement. This is not what the manufacturer’s rep wants to hear, of course, but it’s still an approach that will significantly improve the return on assets of what you already have invested in.
Watching a great salesperson weave their way through PowerPoints, graphs and spreadsheets can be a wonder of theater. But getting one to look at the opportunity space from your perspective – the fiduciary steward of your company – is a partner worth doing business with.