Investing in Gaps Vs. Wasting an Investment

Dec 12, 2006 9:47 PM  By

All of us want to be fiscally responsible. That means we have to invest our resources where they count. Sometimes we invest in addressing problems that are easy to solve but don’t gain much by doing so. Other times we invest in areas that we think are important, but we can’t really back up our thoughts with hard data.

I was in a meeting with an executive who thought that no caller on any day or during any time of day should wait longer than 20 seconds for an agent. So we told him we would put together a financial model to help him understand his initial investment. Guess what. When we ran the model for his 50-seat contact center, we found that he needed an initial investment of more than $5 million. We told him, “The difference between your peak-hour and your average-hour call volume indicates that we would need to triple capacity to make certain we got close to making this happen.”

After he recovered, we asked him why he wanted to do this. He said he thought it would look good in a marketing brochure.

We talked about what was important to his customers. He didn’t know whether the current wait time was an issue. We conducted a customer survey and discovered that 20% of his orders were shipped with missing or incorrect items. The customers really wanted him to invest in fixing the shipping problems.

Once he remedied the shipping issues, guess what happened to his call volume and his wait times? Right. They fell, because irate customers weren’t calling about incorrect orders anymore.

This is a perfect example of gaps and waste. It would have been a waste of money to invest in the 20-second wait time. The real gap, in the customers’ minds, was getting the orders right. Investing in fixing this gap gave the executive a far greater return.

Be careful about gaps and waste. Gaps occur when we aren’t meeting a need, and waste occurs when we are providing something that no one values. Investing in what is of value is a smart use of our precious resources.

Kathryn Jackson is founder of Ocean City, NJ-based contact center consultancy Response Design Corp.

Other articles by Kathryn Jackson:

Flight Simulators for Contact Centers

How to Create the Most Effective Call Monitoring Program, Part 1

How to Create the Most Effective Call Monitoring Program, Part 2

Overturn the High Cost of Employee Turnover