It’s that time of year again – time to finalize your contact center’s budget. The process of creating an annual budget can be time-intensive and frustrating. No doubt you have been instructed to improve operational efficiency and customer service next year – but with limited resources to do so.
How should you go about tackling the budget proposal, and pitching it in a way that gets your team the resources they need to be successful? Here are five tips to get you started.
1. Prove your value.
It is very difficult to obtain adequate funding for your contact center if executives do not understand the value the center brings to the company. So your first step is to meet with the appropriate stakeholders and share your successes from the past year.
Don’t know where to start? Your vendors are a great resource. They, too, are eager to prove that their technology solution is contributing to your bottom line and may be willing to help you prove operational improvements. Your ACD provider or real-time reporting vendor may be especially helpful, since they are familiar with key performance indicators.
2. Include all current expenses.
You’ll need to tally up the basics from this year and project your need for next year:
- Infrastructure – This includes network, facilities and utilities (don’t forget to account for depreciation).
- Human resources – Be sure to include not only salary/benefits, but training programs to combat poor performance, recruiting expenses to attract top talent, and also calculate what your attrition rate costs you in terms of productivity loss.
- Technology – Include cost estimates for new systems and services as well as maintenance contracts for existing systems. Get in touch with your vendors to get quotes and find out about any new product or service offerings for which you should set aside dollars.
3. Leave room for growth.
Even the best company or department can’t expect to grow and reach goals without ongoing investment. How do you plan to exceed last year’s performance targets?
- Many centers could benefit from an experienced consultant dropping in to evaluate processes and technology.
- If you don’t have the budget for a consultant, you may reap some of the same benefits from the latest contact center benchmarking or best practices reports instead.
- Have you considered the costs of training employees on technology and processes? To get the most out of your people, you need to invest in their professional development on an ongoing basis. They’ll reward you with performance and loyalty.
4. Don’t forget support dollars.
You’ve invested in technology solutions to help your contact center run efficiently. Beyond the initial investment, you must account for the service agreements that buy ongoing maintenance, support and upgrades.
5. Look for places to cut.
This may seem obvious, but spend the time to go line-by-line. You’ll likely find a few easy places to reallocate spending. For example:
- Are you using all your current floor space? You might benefit by offering a work-from-home option to CSRs, and consolidating your office space. Contact centers with remote agent programs enjoy reduced facilities costs and expansion of the talent pool outside the local area.
- Should the cost of any of your technology tools be divided up between departments? For example, multiple departments often roll up their telephony expenses in the contact center budget. If the resources are shared, be sure to share the costs as well.
Of course, your budget will be unique to your company and its priorities. It may take several iterations before numbers are agreed upon. Good luck this budgeting season!
Maureen has been a contract technical writer at Inova Solutions since 2011 and is a graduate of James Madison University. Maureen lives in Charlottesville, VA with roots in Baltimore, MD. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.