When it comes to CFO budget 2023, only 7% of finance leaders plan to cut customer service spending over the next 12 months, said Gartner recently.
According to results of a July survey of 234 finance leaders, 21% plan to increase customer spending and 72% to maintain spending, despite economic pressures.
In response to inflation, supply chain disruptions, and a tight labor market, CFOs will make trade-offs in spending that affect customer service and support (CSS) leaders, said Sarah Dibble, Director in the Gartner Customer Service & Support practice.
“The bright spot for CSS organisations is that their function is not a top priority for cost cutting compared to real estate/facilities management and finance, which are the most likely to face budgets cuts in the next year,” she noted.
What CSS leaders should do to meet CFO budget 2023 requirements
Nearly all CFOs prioritise, and will continue to prioritise, digital investments over categories such as sales or research and development, focusing particularly on technologies that enhance current revenue streams or new digital products and services, Gartner pointed out.
CSS leaders should therefore prioritise the technologies that meet these criteria to make the strongest case for investment when it comes to CFO budget 2023, the research firm advised.
CSS leaders must also make a strong case for digital investments that reduce costs, Gartner said.
For example, digital self-service channels offer a tremendous cost savings opportunity for service organizations, costing $0.09 per contact compared to $14 per contact in assisted service, according to the firm.
Another area that will not only reduce costs but also better help serve customers is conversational AI, which is expected to reduce contact center agent labor costs by $80 billion by 2026, Gartner advised.
CFOs will also look to ramp up investments in hiring and compensation, but increase scrutiny on consultants, contractors, and facilities, Gartner observed.
Service leaders with large budget allocations in the latter of these categories should be prepared for increased scrutiny, as well as have contingency plans in place, said Dibble.
“For instance, there may come a time when a contact center in an expensive geography needs to be closed down, transitioned to remote work, or the frontline is unable to handle contact volume without contractors, she added.
Overall, CSS leaders should look to demonstrate ways that their function helps the company achieve its financial objectives by increasing customer loyalty, especially as CSS organisations are faced with frustrated customers who are dealing with their own financial stresses.