INTRODUCTION ESCALATING COSTS = DECREASED REVENUE. SMS in the Call Center: How mobile messaging can increase profits and reduce costs immediately

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2 INTRODUCTION In today s economic climate it has become ever more important to find solutions for the contact and call center that decrease costs and increase revenue while simultaneously providing increasingly higher levels of customer support. However, both contact and call centers of all sizes are now finding that they do not always have the technical or financial resources to remain competitive. This white paper will address how mobile messaging solutions (via SMS) can enhance a contact center s selfservice offering and will explain how using the technology can increase revenues whilst significantly reducing the costs of outbound customer and employee communication. ESCALATING COSTS = DECREASED REVENUE The era of mobile communication dominance has arrived! Today, more and more people have cell phones than people who have landline and Internet service combined. According to the ITU (International Telecommunications Union), the number of global mobile cellular subscribers surpassed the 3 billion mark in November 2007, over half the planet's population and it s growing day by day. That is a significantly faster rate of growth for the technology than landline service, which only totalled 1.85 billion users more than a century after it was invented, as well as Internet service, which grew from 400 million users in 2000 to approximately 1.1 billion users around the world today. As mobile devices become an increasingly indispensable tool of the 21 st century, they offer the contact and call center a more expedient and direct communications method. Research has shown that since 2006, most countries have seen a significant increase in mobile-only households. This means that more and more customers are now opting out of having a landline phone, choosing to use their mobile phone as their preferred point of voice contact: Recent studies in the UK have found that 12% of UK households were mobile-only at the end of Copyright 2008 Clickatell 2

3 Polls conducted in the US between October 2007 and January 2008 showed that one in seven adults now use mobile phones only and one in five adults have no landline. Remarkably, about half of US adults who only use a mobile phone are 30 or over. 2 The same research showed that one-third of year olds in the US - the customer of the future - only use a mobile phone or Internet for making phone calls. Many people are now giving their mobile phone as their prime contact number. As a result, by mid it s predicted that almost 70% of all contact centers outbound calling costs will be the result of calls to mobile phones. 3 It is true that the mobile phone has a greater advantage over landline phones and even due to its high reach and responsiveness and that this has enabled businesses to reach the customer far more easily. Given this, there is an ever-increasing likelihood that the customer will prefer to interact with the contact or call center via their mobile phone. This trend represents both an opportunity and a challenge to the contact or call center operator; the opportunity is apparent to be able to engage with the customer anytime, anywhere via mobile messaging to service their needs thereby increasing revenues and customer effectiveness. Where the challenge comes in is in managing the expense associated with calling mobile phones, which can be higher than the cost per contact for Internet, and IVR call costs. As an alternative, contact and call centers are able to reduce costs by replacing some outbound calls with SMS, offering a more expedient and cost-effective communication method. SMS also has the potential to dramatically simplify and improve relationships between a business, its customer and its staff, while at the same time reduce phone call costs, build advanced proactive contact strategies and improve on business processes Research, conducted by ContactBabel Copyright 2008 Clickatell 3

4 LEVERAGING MOBILE MESSAGING TECHNOLOGY SMS technology will not only cut costs by replacing certain outbound calls with text messages, but can also play a fundamental and prominent role in the self-service shift, enabling both the customer and staff to obtain immediate automated responses on repeated enquiries such as staffing/shift availability and customer technical support, service dispatches, schedule updates or status of financial transactions, etc., without the need for oneon-one interaction. Yes, SMS delivery does have a cost attached to it, but then so does any other communications medium and if used correctly, it can save any business a significant amount of money. For example, managing a contact center for standard queries/requests such as balance requests, order status or to frequently contact employees for staffing/shift availability could cost as much as 4.50 Euro per call, whilst automating an SMS system to send such alerts on request, could cost as little as 1% of that. By integrating SMS messaging into the current contact channels, organizations can more effectively control and manage the costs of their outbound communications. This is because the nature of SMS allows it to have many unique advantages over other services offered, as it provides a cheap and convenient method of sending targeted information to one or many mobile phone users at a time. For example: Using a leading service provider, an SMS will only cost 2 to 5p, compared to an outbound phone call that can cost around 3.08 in the UK. In the US during 2007, studies have shown that outbound call costs had a mean average of $12.20 and a median of $8.38, with a range quoted being $ $ again, through a leading service provider, an SMS could cost as little as $ $0.20. Introducing an SMS notification service would reduce an average 2 minute call time to less than 2.5 seconds per message a significant saving in labour and operational costs when contacting employees for shift or staffing availability. Additionally, only one message would need to be created which could then be sent to an entire pool of people or personalised and sent to a smaller selected group in a matter of minutes greatly reducing costs and staff resources. 4 The 2007 Contact Centre Operational Review, ContactBabel Copyright 2008 Clickatell 4

5 SMS is one of the most cost effective ways to reach customers, employees and suppliers for notifications and reminders as well as giving people a way to make payments, costing only pennies per message delivered. TEXT MESSAGING BENEFITS Due to its very nature as a Short Message Service, SMS has many unique advantages that other non-voice services offer, providing a very convenient and relatively comfortable communications solution that telephone conversations cannot offer. Just a few examples of how SMS is currently assisting a broad range of businesses to cut costs and ease contact and call center demands are as follows: Example A: Text messaging increases collections and saves call center thousands in costs The benefits of rapid response, significantly reduced costs and increased debt collection makes SMS an obvious choice. A leading call center centric company, specializing in pre-delinquent and legal collections, and who provides information technology solutions to the risk, credit and collections industry, are fast becoming recognized as a world-class provider of debt collection software. Looking to improve the speed and efficiency of the debt collection process and cut down on call costs, the company chose to include SMS messaging as a strategic addition of their call center technology solution for customers. The cost-efficient solution has enabled the company to send out SMS messages to remind businesses and consumers of their payments. By adding SMS to their arsenal of existing call center channels to reach customers, the company is showing their leadership in finding new ways to get the job done and helping their customers improve the bottom line by increasing cash flow and improving revenue recognition. SMS technology has proven to be very reliable when sending or requesting sensitive information such as debt collection or payments. Sending a simple text message request to a customer via his or her mobile phone is a much less confrontational channel of communication, and is now seeing huge benefits with delinquent customers responding better to collection attempts via sms, due to it being less intrusive than previous traditional Copyright 2008 Clickatell 5

6 communication methods. Implementing an automated SMS solution for payment and debt collection can add the following benefits: Increased Collections: The informal yet direct approach of SMS makes offenders more likely to comply Enhances customer relationships as SMS is perceived to be less threatening Immediate Cost Savings: Less outbound call activity and more inbound calls Immediate cost savings: collection costs can be reduced dramatically Reminder SMS to pay can be scheduled and sent, reducing agent handling time Example B: Text Messaging enhancing cost and promotional effectiveness of CRM systems SMS allows businesses to proactively inform customers of special events and promotions beforehand drastically reducing call costs, whilst increasing campaign effectiveness and revenue gain. A well-known retailer who have long acknowledged the importance of marketing and building successful communication bridges with their loyal customers, and are managing an active and very successful loyalty club. However, they were looking for a new and cost-effective way to enhance their current customer communications. The solution would also need to assist them in targeting customers with declining frequency purchases as their current methods ( , voice and direct mail) were not having the response rates they had hoped for. SMS was the ideal solution as it offered them a new, immediate and inexpensive channel for distributing account and marketing information, invitations and discount coupons, etc. and one which would increase call to action to existing and deserting customers. Using SMS has also allowed their contact center to become more efficient as they can now proactively inform and remind customers of events, promotions or issues beforehand and therefore prevent inbound and outbound call costs. Copyright 2008 Clickatell 6

7 Businesses can enhance their CRM systems using SMS by providing an easy and unobtrusive option for customers to interact directly, without having to talk to a live agent or send messages. The table below depicts the average estimated cost of customer service channels 5. SERVICE CHANNEL COST Web Chat $7.50 Phone Call with Live Agent $4.50 $2.50 Phone Self-Service $1.85 Web Self-Service $0.65 SMS $0.10 Company C: Text messaging introduces an immediate labour utilization and operational cost saving Text Messaging offers a low cost, high return alternative to current communication methods for staffing and outsourcing service agencies. An outsource staffing agency, specializing in the healthcare sector, were frequently contacting personnel at short notice when temporary/shift work opportunities arose in order to ensure their customers were fully staffed. Typically this had been done via their call center, but with demand increasing they were finding it difficult to keep up with requirements through phone calling. They implemented an SMS solution, which would allow them to send SMS messages to registered personnel to query labor availability. Using two-way SMS, they are now able to send a short text message to a small database of workers to see if they are available. Available employees simply reply back to the office confirming their availability and requesting further details. The use of SMS has removed the frustration of engaged phone lines and strain on manpower. The solution has also saved the company thousands in call costs and dramatically improved their staff utilization efficiency. 5 Gartner/Avaya, 2005 Copyright 2008 Clickatell 7

8 For staffing solutions, which are based on calendar or shift scheduling, SMS has added huge benefits. Previously, contacting staff to ensure their availability for shift work has typically been done via the telephone. This has been time consuming, inefficient and costly plus the added frustration of available phone lines and staff to handle the calls. Using SMS as an alternative to phoning has dramatically reduced live call talk time and live agent call center staff efficiency. It has also allowed businesses to realize significant cost savings when it comes to telephone costs. Text messaging has proven to be an effective means with which to communicate to customers and a tool which can greatly reduce the communication time for both the staff and the customer. Implementing an automated SMS solution can add the following benefits: Immediate Cost Savings: Annual cost savings achieved through mobile messaging vs outbound voice call costs Minimized outbound and inbound call activity reduces call center labor requirements One message can be sent to a vast number of people within seconds compared to individual calls to each person therefore reducing the number of calls and call costs Operational Cost savings: Less outbound and inbound voice call activity reduces utilization call center Simplifies and improves communication between agency and staff SMS SOLUTIONS THAT SUPPORT YOUR BUDGET AND YOUR BUSINESS GOALS An effective implementation of SMS technology in the contact and call center will not only enable a business to service their customers or employees more effectively, but will also increase effectiveness of staff. Better management of inbound call queues, through immediate message delivery, and a more efficient way of communicating information will save time, allow for far more proficient and productive employees, while at the same time be extremely cost effective. This technology further provides an opportunity to improve upon customer relationship management (CRM). A simple text message targeted at a selected customer base, will ensure that information will reach the correct customer in an instant, and not run the risk of wasting time and energy with repeated calls or s in order to ensure your message is received and acted upon. Organizations will ultimately profit from a shorter critical path in contacting and targeting the correct customers and can address both current and future opportunities in the following key areas: Copyright 2008 Clickatell 8

9 Outcome-based messaging SMS messages can automatically be triggered by the outcome of a call such as information request or appointment made. Efficient mass messaging enables the sending of personalized messages to small, medium or large groups simultaneously, instead of costly one-on-one phone calls. Two-way messaging keywords on inbound SMS can allow individual messages to be routed to specific campaigns. Recipients can respond immediately by hitting reply buttons making it an excellent tool for news alerts, marketing campaigns, brand promotions and account activity updates. Message delivery status/receipt SMS can provide businesses with real-time status of the sent SMS messages to their customers such as in progress, failed or delivered allowing for immediate marketing campaign results that can be measured in real-time. MAXIMISING YOUR MOBILITY WITH CLICKATELL Clickatell s mobile messaging solutions offer the security, mobility and adaptability businesses need and demand at a price they can afford. Direct connectivity to Clickatell s core SMS gateway platform allows contact and call centers to dramatically cut costs while increasing service delivery. Enterprise-class solutions Clickatell are world leaders in enterprise-class mobile messaging, delivering innovative mobile messaging products and services to over 8,000 small, medium and large enterprises in a wide variety of key vertical markets. Messaging solutions are built on open architecture and standards allowing devices to connect transparently across multiple channels. Businesses can easily integrate Clickatell messaging solutions into an existing call center technology to extend current services and provide customers with a compelling mobile experience that will drive usage, customer loyalty and return on investment. Easy Integration through multiple protocols/interfaces Direct connectivity to Clickatell s core SMS gateway platform via a broad range of available APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) allows easy to implement SMS service initiation. APIs are fast, simple and reliable, and built so that they are easily utilized to fit with any system reducing operating costs and time-to-market deployment cycles. Global coverage Clickatell s SMS gateway offers wide coverage than any other SMS provider and when it comes to message delivery to more than 700 mobile networks in over 200 countries. Ongoing Copyright 2008 Clickatell 9

10 carrier relations and connectivity management enables message delivery to undergo sophisticated load balancing and extensive real-time reporting. Intelligent routing always ensures the lowest cost routes are chosen for delivery, making it possible to offer customers global reach and high-level reliability at competitive prices. Support for multiple messaging types Clickatell s gateway is not limited to SMS/text messaging it can support many other message types including and voice. CONCLUSION The mobile channel is now dominant among customers. The opportunity to leverage the benefits of SMS in the call and contact center is now versus in the future and the benefits are quite significant. SMS delivers the dual advantage of decreased costs and increased revenues. Clickatell, a global leader in mobile communication products and services to small, medium and large enterprises in a variety of vertical markets, can help achieve these benefits by delivering a mobile messaging solution that is easy to maintain, exceptionally affordable, secure, highly scalable and backed by highly effective, qualified technical support services. For more information about Clickatell products and services go to or contact Clickatell at the following locations: Clickatell USA 3200 Bridge Parkway, Suite 201, Redwood City, California Tel: Clickatell SA 7th Floor, Manhattan Plaza, 100 Edward Street, Bellville, 7530 Tel: Copyright 2008 Clickatell 10

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