How to define the soft ROI benefits in the contact center

How can I define the intangibles on a return on investment (ROI) for quality monitoring in our contact center?

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Most companies have approval guidelines for technology investments. The guidelines are almost always based on “hard” quantifiable benefits. Examples of hard quantifiable benefits that can be used to justify an investment in a quality monitoring application include: reduction in agent average handle time, reduction in carrier fees, reduction in number of transactions received, increase in first call resolution rate, reduction in hold time, reduction in transferred calls, etc. These are all categories that can be measured and tracked. In general, chief financial officers (CFOs) will approve investments that are based on quantifiable cost savings. Additionally, some CFOs will approve investments that are based on cost avoidance, while others will not.

"Soft" intangible ROI benefits can be significant for some investments, but are generally hard to quantify and measure. For this reason, most CFOs will not approve investments based on ”soft” criteria. When investment dollars are limited, which is often the case during a recession, it becomes even more important to base a project’s benefits on categories that the enterprise prioritizes, such as an increase in revenue, decrease in customer attrition or productivity improvements. Soft ROI benefits can be used to augment a business case (return on investment analysis), but should not be used alone.

While an investment that is justified based on quantifiable benefits is more likely to be approved, intangible benefits are often very significant, even if they are difficult to measure. Quality monitoring applications, when used properly, deliver both quantifiable and intangible benefits. Intangible ROI benefits from quality monitoring applications include improvement in customer satisfaction, decrease in customer attrition, improved brand, increase in agent retention, increase in agent satisfaction, decrease in agent attrition, and improvements in other operating areas. If you want to include the intangibles in your business case, I suggest that you first justify the investment based on hard quantifiable benefits that you know your CFO will approve, and then create a second version of your return on investment analysis that adds in an estimate of the intangible benefits.

This was first published in December 2009

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