10 ways to reduce call center costs

Call center costs can creep up. Here are tips to reduce your contact center costs – using an omni-channel contact center software with AI.

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A call center is an important business tool but they can be costly. Learn how to reduce your call center costs by using these tips!

Our call center teams leverage cloud based call center software to consistently pass on savings to our customers.

Summary

Here are 10 tips to reduce your call center costs. Cloud contact centers like Amazon Connect contact center and Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform already provide a lot of these advanced capabilities – use them.

  1. Make sure you set up an IVR / phone tree and allow callers to self service as much as possible.
  2. Leverage AI to do a majority of the quality assurance heavy lifting.
  3. Use machine learning, NLP, transcriptions to reduce after call work for call center agents.
  4. Increase self service “first call resolution” via personalization of calls (data dips into backend).
  5. Offload HIPAA, GDPR, SOC2, PCI and security requirements to call center software.
  6. Use automated dialers (predictive, progressive) for outbound calls. This reduces manual dialing time + costs of agents.
  7. Automate reporting and KPIs of your call center. Keep the KPIs simple and manage by objectives – rather than getting bogged down into the nitty gritty.
  8. Use AI to forecast agent scheduling / workflow management.
  9. Off load customer intake (time consuming) to phone or chat bots using your callcenter software.
  10. Leverage knowledge base integration with your call center software to reduce time wasted by agents on looking up information or transferring calls to other departments.

Call center costs components

Each industry has some variations on where the costs lie, but as a rule of thumb, the table below represents most of your costs.

A large part of your day goes into handling the following:

  1. Inbound calls
  2. Outbound calls
  3. After call work (updating systems)
  4. Quality assurance for each call
  5. During call work (looking up information, scheduling, intake, etc.)
  6. Reporting, analysis, forecasting, staffing
Answering service” for pharmacies, patients
Appointment scheduling – calls, emails
Appointment reminders
Reappointing no-show patients
Reappointing cancelled patients
Recalling patients fallen out of care
Website Chat & Social Media responses 
Fax – monitoring, responses
Community Outreach Service
Surgery Scheduling Services
Outreach for updated insurance information
Prior-authorizations
For certain payers, get PCP referrals as needed
Outreach to patients for demographics updates
Patient Pre-registration / intake
Patient COVID screening 
Patient surveys
Patient review requests
Patient text messages / 2 way conversations 
Patient message blasts – practice updates 
Physician Referrals (inbound)
Physician Referrals Marketing
Verify coverage on primary, tertiary, Medicaid etc.
Discharge follow up calls
Care Gap Outreach
Eligibility calls (specific specialties)
Wellness / end of year patient outreach
Denials payer conversations
Clinical contact center cost components

Reduce call center costs for inbound

  1. Use a sophisticated, flexible phone tree (IVR) with as many languages as needed for your customer base.
  2. Support SMS, email, phone, WhatsApp, Apple business chat, website chat, Google/FB using the same (or similar) “tree”.
  3. Connect your inbound contact center channels to your backend systems for personalization via data dips into your system(s).
  4. Upgrade your inbound channels with natural language processing and Artificial intelligence. i.e. Use artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML) to automate personalized interactions.
  5. Always allow callers to “speak to an agent” on demand.
  6. Make sure to pass on entire conversational history to human agents when they connect with a customer.
  7. Ensure you use the daily/weekly reports, analysis, QA feedback to update your “tree”

Want our customer access team to help? Reach out.

    Monthly budget?

    Reduce call center costs for quality assurance

    Quality Assurance staff is a must have for all call centers. Until recently, this required a major lift from QA staff. This was mainly, a manual process of auditing call recordings

    1. Use artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML) to automate interactions.
    2. Use the same technology to track customer sentiment in real time and post call.
    3. Create real time quality rules and alerts for your organization that are tied to each conversation (phone, sms, web chat etc).
    4. Have your QA teams respond to each such alert for training and up-skilling agents.
    5. Ensure that each call center team lead can respond to real time alerts based on customer sentiment.  
    Reduce call center costs - quality assurance
    Reduce call center costs – quality assurance

    Reduce call center costs – after call work

    Every business needs to have calls documented – who called, why they called, what was done to satisfy the caller, any follow up tasks etc.

    This is the dreaded ACW (after call work) – a waste of time if done manually.

    • Use artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML) to automate call classification.
    • Use speech to text and call recordings in real time and post call to create call notes.
    • Create real time / post call rules to allow creation of after call tasks.
    • Ensure that each call center team lead can manage all these tasks/tickets to ensure closure before end of day.  
    Reduce call center costs - ACW
    Reduce call center costs – ACW

    Reduce call center costs – use personalization

    Typically the inbound caller always has to identify themselves – even when they might already be an existing customer of your business for the last 10 years.

    1. Introduce voice ID to your phone tree. Explain to customers that they will have to do it only once.
    2. Batch enroll your customers using past call recordings.
    3. Identify a caller based on voice ID or via data dips into your backend systems.
    4. Identify customer’s intent of contacting your business based on future appointments or open tickets or pending interactions.
    5. Offer intelligence support / direct calls based on machine learning based personalizations.
    6. Reduce telephony costs, hold time, improve customer satisfaction and agent productivity.
    Reduce call center costs - personalization
    Reduce call center costs – personalization

    Want our customer access team to help? Reach out.

      Monthly budget?

      Reduce call center costs around security

      Security (e.g. in our case, HIPAA, SOC2, PCI) are top of mind for both us and our customers. Most businesses don’t think much of security until a disaster occurs.

      Sometimes the inbound calls are related to payments and we need to accept payment from the patient in a secure manner while not storing any of the patient payment information.

      1. Off-load security infrastructure to an industry leading cloud contact center software provider.
      2. Ensure that credit card information is collected only via secure IVRs or secure payment forms
      3. Off-load real-time caller authentication and fraud risk detection via machine learning to industry leading call center software providers.
      4. Use automated PII detection and redaction capabilities in your call center recordings to avoid any potential risks down the line.

      Reduce call center costs for outbound dials

      Outbound dialing is a high volume endeavor. A majority of callees do not pick up the phone. This leads to an outbound dialing agent to amass a large call back log list.

      1. Use a predictive dialer or a progressive dialer to reduce the costs of agents spending time in dialing numbers.
      2. You may think that maximizing agent talk time is the most important metric for you. If so, use a Predictive dialer wherein, pacing of calls is based on predicted agent availability and near-real time statistics.
      3. While using predictive or progressive dialers from your cloud contact center provider, off load TCPA compliance requirements to the software vendor.
      4. In certain cases, you might be OK with a progressive dialer because reaching customers is more important than optimizing agent talk time. Using a predictive dialer, it won’t dial until the agent becomes available.
      5. Don’t waste telephony costs on leaving voicemails. Reduce call center costs further by using automatic answering machine detection.
      6. Integrate with caller ID reputation software to ensure your phone number reputation remains at the highest levels.
      Reduce call center costs - outbound
      Reduce call center costs – outbound

      Reduce call center costs – reporting and KPIs

      Reporting and KPIs are at the heart of any call center operations. Getting these done correctly does end up increasing call center costs.

      1. Create business rules in your cloud contact center software to monitor as many of your KPIs as possible.
      2. Categorize your contact categories to automate as many of your reports as possible.
      3. Use custom vocabularies to ensure as much automated reporting and KPI monitoring as possible.
      4. Make sure that you automate and monitor as much of the connectivity quality as possible.
      Reduce call center costs - KPIs
      Reduce call center costs – KPIs

      You can have as much interactive reporting as you desire.

      Reduce call center costs - reporting

      Want our customer access team to help? Reach out.

        Monthly budget?

        Reduce call center costs for agent scheduling

        Workflow management is a key aspect of running a call center. Each call center manager or customer experience leader struggles with forecasting customer demand surges based on historical data.

        Agent happiness / satisfaction is crucial to reduce attrition, training and hiring costs, improving customer experiences.

        1. Use machine learning powered forecasting, capacity planning and scheduling capabilities in your cloud contact center software.
        2. Based on recommendations from your software vendor, ensure the right agents are available at the right time.
        3. Improve forecasts, staffing accuracy, staffing/call workload to ensure agent satisfaction.
        4. Run “what-if” scenarios with varying attrition rates, per channel service levels, Average Speed of Answer targets, in-office or out-of-office shrinkages, maximum occupancy, overtime, and time off targets to determine staffing requirements/costs.
        Reduce call center costs - staffing
        Reduce call center costs – staffing

        Reduce call center costs – customer intake

        Patient/customer intake is where you can save a LOT of time. For our customers, we save an average of 25-30 mins per patient /customer (overall).

        Our customers / patients finish almost everything before they even step into the business.

        1. Ensure you finish customer intake while they are at home.
        2. Employ automated or human assisted intake technologies to complete intake.
        3. If employing an automated intake bot (chat or sms), ensure that the customer always has an option to connect with a live agent.

        Want our customer access team to help? Reach out.

          Monthly budget?

          Reduce call center costs – agent knowledge base

          Call center agents spend (waste) time in looking up various systems for information a customer requires. Call center costs add up due to training required for each agent onboarding (for larger enterprises).

          1. Tie in your internal knowledge base / repository to your cloud contact center software.
          2. Ensure that you are using your call center software’s real time recording and transcription capabilities.
          3. Deliver real-time, relevant content recommendations to agents based on real-time call transcripts.
          4. Reduce training costs, customer dissatisfaction with improved agent assistance (real time).