We love to conduct technology strategy projects and have shared how important we think those are for contact centers. We emphasize alignment of technology strategy with operations and business goals. But how do you build a strategic plan when each day brings a new direction from leadership, a new challenge from external forces, or internally-driven change? In the “go-go” world we live in, I’ll make the case that planning is more important than ever, and your biggest technology drivers may be agility and resilience.
In a perfect world, the contact center is part of the team dealing with any initiatives that might impact customer interactions. You plan reactions when you have weeks or months to prepare, enabling you to do things like stand up additional self-service or change routing within or across sites. You also need to be a “change ready” organization, able to build in alternatives you can “turn on/off” easily when you must react without warning. Examples are alternate routing paths already configured and ready to repoint numbers, or technology that lets you quickly add staff or leverage reserve staff.
Preparing for super agility with an increasing number of factors requires both strategic planning to have systems, licenses, and configurability at the ready, and tactical planning to have the processes and resources ready to implement changes. Involve contact center leadership and staff in planning. Develop detailed process documentation that can be used in structured training yet altered quickly when change requires process adjustments and staff retraining.
Another action is to conduct contingency planning as well as peak handling. As a bonus of being change ready, you may actually develop or update your BC/DR and peak response capabilities as a side benefit!
Include processes to respond to change, along with the technology you need to execute that response. Have IT and contact center support staff ready and available. Keep in mind the more resource constrained you are for the day-to-day, the tougher it is to effectively respond to change. If you feel understaffed, as so many do today, you need to have alternate resources you can tap. These include contractors, vendors, VARs, outsourcers, and consultants. Put agreements in place (e.g., Master Services Agreements, Retainers, or Time and Materials) so that they are teed up when needed, recognizing they can’t hold staff availability for you. Nonetheless, things move faster when the legal and procurement steps are out of the way.
Don’t let change overrun or overwhelm your center and its technology. Plan with an eye on agility and responsiveness. Put the right tools, processes, and resources in place proactively—whether internal or external. You may not be able to anticipate every change that will come at you, but when they do, you’ll feel more confident that you will be ready to respond.