Making a Budgetary Case For Your Contact Center, Part One

Today’s changing contact center is multichannel, multimedia, multisite, multitasking, often creating multimeltdowns. The leaders in today’s centers must be prepared to perform at a high level, which requires funding. To access the funding, you have to make a case. But we must have the support and buy-in of senior management to accomplish our goals.

Here a few steps for putting together a budgetary case to senior management. It may also be a useful tool for evaluating the performance of your center.

Define your objectives
In making the case to management, the objectives we cite will have an impact on how we are viewed. The contact center must be aligned with the enterprise objectives. Service level is not an objective; it is a planning and measurement tool.

Service may well sit on our list of key performance indicators. But objectives presented to senior management must be linked to the enterprise – cost reduction, increased market penetration, customer retention, etc.

Ask someone if you are not clear on the company objectives. One place to look is the annual report. Read the message from the CEO to shareholders, which will outline the enterprise accomplishments from the previous year and highlight the objectives for the coming year.

These objectives are your objectives. In any presentation to senior management, it is appropriate to quote the CEO and demonstrate how your organization is integral to the plan.

The objective of the contact center is to help the enterprise meet its goals. This is a great preframe and will make your case more compelling.

Support your case
How would you represent your current realities? Current conditions are supported by the current budget. So it is appropriate to illustrate what has been accomplished within that framework.

Create a view of the contact center to illustrate where you are now. Begin by showing the total number of contacts annually handled by the center. How does this relate to the previous year? Are calls on the rise or the decline? Have the demand patterns shifted?

Show the impact of billing cycles, software upgrades, marketing campaigns, product releases – any and all dynamics that impact the center and about which you want to raise awareness.

Describe the total number of channels and the demands on each. Illustrate the number of voice calls, IVR (integrated voice response) transactions, e-mail, Web, fax, and written correspondence. Any and all channels must be represented. For example, did your automation investments produce the desired result, or have you simply expanded your availability?

Document the current technology configuration. This provides an opportunity to illustrate the distribution and any limitations that may exist. This is key if your budget includes any technology upgrade, replacement recommendations, or enhancements. It is important to set the stage for the capital investment by clearly representing the current system and its realities. You should also deliver information on channels and desktop applications.

Set the stage for capacity, particularly if one of your objectives is growth. The center’s scalability model will be an important component of the presentation.

Describe the current condition, including the current number of workstations equipped and occupied. Discuss the current telecommunications and bandwidth capacities and how much additional demand can be handled by the current facilities.

This provides an opportunity to describe the facility’s conditions overall. For instance, has it been 10 years since chairs have been purchased? Are the facilities ergonomically sound? Are there a growing number of worker’s compensation claims? All this information must be represented!

Supporting your case via illustrations, reports, and examples creates an understanding of current conditions and provides a context for center enhancements and improvements. Next time we’ll look at the best way to do that.

Kathleen Peterson is president of Bedford, NH-based contact center consultancy PowerHouse Consulting (

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