The contact center landscape has changed dramatically over the years. But few contact centers have really adapted to these changes. When setting up a new contact center, you can do everything better right from the start. Learn how to do it.
No time to read the full article? Just download it as a PDF and read it offline, anytime, anywhere.
The technology that in old times used to be simple and sit on premises is now very sophisticated and generally sits in the cloud. Making changes to contact routing, call centre forecasts, knowledge management systems, staff scheduling systems, quality monitoring and performance management forms now just takes a few clicks of a mouse button with many of these solutions.
Whereas in the past contact volumes were predominantly inbound phone calls, contacts now take many different forms. Many contact centers now take inbound work from customer contacts via:
Contact centers are lagging behind
As a result of this evolution in technology and customer behavior, contact centers have needed to evolve. But have they really changed to meet the challenge? In short, no. Contact centers have made incremental changes over the years to adapt, but few are where they need to be.
Starting a new contact center - avoiding old problems
If you were to start a contact center today, how would you set it up?
Choose cloud-based technology
First, you would most likely have all systems cloud-based and have nothing installed on your premises. Why? Because the cloud gives you maximum flexibility, lowest cost, and you are always on the latest version of the software. You aren’t stuck with hardware that quickly becomes obsolete, and you don’t have to make a pitch for capital investment for each innovation. In my experience, cloud-based technology has allowed me to be much more nimble and responsive to my customers.
There are many benefits of adopting cloud - and none more prevalent than the speed with which you can embrace the new technology without a huge RFP process that slows the project down and undermines the value of the innovation before it has even been put into production.
Set up good processes
Technology is often seen as a ‘silver bullet’. Executives will say things like: “We’ll fix our customer experience issues once we purchase the new customer survey system”. No system, cloud-based or on-premises, will take the place of having the right processes in place. Start by identifying the best process (agnostic of technology) and then figure out how technology can help you achieve that. It’s quite possible that no available technology supports a new and innovative process. This is an opportunity to partner with your technology supplier on a strategic roadmap to have these features in future releases of their technology.
Get external support on processes
It’s difficult to objectively assess your own processes, because there will always be some natural bias. The experience of other companies who have already been down the road you are considering can be incredibly valuable. Why learn through your own mistakes when you can learn from the mistakes of others? You can get this external support through a number of means:
- Networking Groups
- Technology Vendors
Many of these channels are low-cost or no cost (or have a nice return on investment). The main investment is that of your time to go out and understand what others are doing and what successes or failures they’ve had with various innovations. As you research various technology providers, you may come across several that don’t support your processes. A quote you often hear in business is “You shouldn’t change your processes to fit technology”. This is generally true, however if the technology is solid, but doesn’t support your processes, that may mean you need to take a look at your processes. I’ve had many technology deployments that, as we got into the details, didn’t match up with how we forecasted (for example). The deployment forced the standardization of processes, inputs and outputs with the system; it forced us to clean up our processes.
As you read this blog, you may think that your job is to actually do the hard work of keeping your center running effectively; you do not have the empowerment or authority to engage in major technology purchases. So what does this mean to you?
Flexibility is key
First of all, as you grow in your career and move into positions of more authority, remember to focus on developing a structure that can swiftly respond to the changing world of technology - and the changing demands of your customers. Consider cloud-based technologies as an option at every opportunity. There may be valid reasons not to use cloud, but today, cloud should always be at least one of the options. If you are at a company that is heavily invested in physical hardware for contact center technology, become an advocate for moving to a more flexible environment.
Take the time to reassess all of the processes you are involved with. There will be a set of processes where you are center stage, for example, the scheduler has a key role in running shift bidding. There will also be processes where you are upstream or downstream from the main activities, for example the scheduler is not directly involved in long-term forecasting, even though this ultimately has an impact on scheduling.
Most of all, challenge the status quo. Don’t assume the way things are done today is the best way; it is just a reflection of how they’ve been done in the past. Be a part of the future of contact centers by driving for continuous improvement in everything you do.
Did you find the article interesting and would like to share it with your colleagues? Download the article as a PDF.
Originally published on Mar 15, 2017, updated on Mar 11, 2021.