contact center technology misses
Illustration by Scott Hamilton

Contact centers rely on technology to meet their business goals, manage their operations, and interact with customers in a variety of media. Unfortunately, they are frequently disappointed in their purchases. Here is an accounting of the top issues we see with contact center technology missing the mark and some considerations for how to change the situation.

The number one issue is the lack of business value. Despite substantial outlays, the technology doesn’t deliver the return on investment that was anticipated. The solution is obvious: Plan for and pursue change throughout the project—internally and with what you define for vendors to do. And remember, you have to document, contract for and pay for what you actually want.

Then there is the install and leave syndrome, which compounds the first issue. After installation is complete, IT and the vendor(s) don’t fix or optimize because cutover equates to “done.” Solution: Define project “completion” as X weeks or months after cutover with phases and/or defined targets for optimization and refinement. Your critical resources will still be there when you need them.

Once it’s in and working, a common cry is the systems are too hard to use, which can be compounded by not enough of the right people with skills and training. Users don’t understand what they’ve bought, how it works (including the most basic and most useful tools), or how to use it. Administrator training is non-existent or the knowledge gained is fleeting and weeks after cutover users struggle. The solution, again, is relatively simple, but requires time for training and reinforcement, which can also mean more money for the vendor. Contact center staff must be trained on the systems (ideally onsite, not online!), with analysts who have these responsibilities and can apply them routinely. Analysts also become great resources to coach others in using the tools, including managers, supervisors and team leads. The reinforcement comes for those present at implementation, as well as those who inherit tools and responsibilities when the trained members leave. They must get training and mentoring, which may come in the form of shadowing as well as formal knowledge transfer.

Another gap surfaces in basic level 1 support and maintenance, such as system updates and backups. Whether a vendor or IT responsibility, issues can include lack of responsiveness, timely resolution or knowledgeable resources. Solution: Clarity in roles and responsibilities between the vendor and IT is the starting point, with accountability solidified through SLAs and vendor management.

A final issue that seems less significant on the surface can have a big impact: The lack of appropriate documentation. Online documents with general info may not be specific enough to the system and processes (including call flows) implemented. Tie this in with the training issue and we see people just keep asking the vendor, a less than satisfying approach for all. This problem resolution starts with requesting documentation at the requirements and evaluation stage, and is only adequately addressed through collaboration between buyers and sellers, including the implementation team and ongoing support resources, to ensure that appropriate documentation is created and delivered.