The impact of inflation on contact centres
David Taylor, Partner Success Manager, Contact Centre Panel
Whilst we have seen a slight reduction in inflation recently in the UK (and globally), the impact felt has been minimal in truth. Inflation in the UK is still over 10% as of 7th March, with other European countries such as Italy (10%), Germany (8.7%) and France (6%) also being impacted.
The impact of inflation has been no different for the outsourcing industry, affecting centres and staff alike in many different ways. In this article, I wanted to explore just a few of those impacts and some potential solutions to leverage those pinch points.
- Cost of labour – as inflation rises, so do the wages and benefits that companies need to offer to attract and retain employees. This can impact contact centres that rely on a large workforce of customer service representatives. Higher labour costs can lead to increased overhead, which can ultimately result in higher prices for customers.
- Cost of technology – inflation can also impact the cost of technology and infrastructure. Contact centres require technology and equipment such as telephones, computers and software to support their operations. As the cost of these items rise due to inflation, contact centres may have to invest more money to maintain or upgrade their systems. This can result in higher expenses and potentially reduced profits.
- Cost of training & development – another way inflation can impact contact centres is through the cost of training and development. As the cost of living rises, so does the cost of training and development programs for customer service representatives. Companies may have to spend more money to provide training programmes that are effective in improving the quality of service provided by their employees.
So, what can be done to reduce the burden of inflation in the industry?
Well, whilst a lot rests on national and global financial markets, there are a few things your centre can do to minimise these impacts.
- Operational efficiency – businesses can almost certainly take stock of how they are performing operationally, cutting any excess ‘fat’ from their operations. However, if not done properly, this could have a detrimental impact to service standards – which may impact sales or third party contracts in the long term.
- Streamlining processes – businesses should review operational processes to ensure they are maximising time and costs per process undertaken. Look at your contact flows and see if there is room for improvement. Can you reduce handling time here, or increase the rate of first contact resolution?
- Implement technology – whilst you may not want to radically move your operations from being people centric to tech first, there are many ways that implementing the right technology can help to reduce operational costs over time. Take multi-lingual customer service for example. Can you look at bringing in translation technology for low volume voice locations, switching to a digital only service for these countries and locations?
- Home and hybrid working – the introduction of new post-pandemic working models has meant that many businesses have been able to reduce office space and associated costs. If your business has kept or returned to the traditional office based model then it may be worth considering.
The good news is that inflation globally is due to come down over the next 12 months. Here in the UK, the Bank of England forecasts inflation to reduce to 4% by the end of 2023 – falling to it’s 2% target shortly after that.
Looking for support to help reduce costs but maintain the highest level of service? Do get in touch, we are here to help.