Work Together to Optimize Contact Center Technology
Illustration by Justin Putnam

Technology is the great enabler but too often falls short in delivering promised results, leaving users and executives frustrated. Whether pursuing exciting new technology or refreshing existing systems, IT and the contact center need to work together to deliver better outcomes.

Here are our top tips for optimizing new or existing technology to the benefit of the contact center and IT in whatever positions they find themselves.

Make sure roles and responsibilities are clear. They run the gamut from strategic planning and high-level design to configuration, administration and day-to-day optimization based on root-cause analysis, trending and new business needs. IT and the contact center need a clear division of labor and consistent rules for vendor engagement—whether for troubleshooting, “fixes,” configuration or monitoring the health and performance of the systems.

Clearly define requirements. Requirements definition is primarily a contact center burden and is an obvious need for new technology (e.g., writing an RFP). It is also important to make the most out of what you already have and solve real problems. Think of each effort in terms of a project lifecycle—define, plan, implement and support. Identify issues and options, documenting what is needed from a functional perspective, performance improvement, etc. Close gaps by doing new things, or doing things differently.

Cross-pollinate and educate. Make a commitment to leverage each other’s core competencies. The center needs to articulate clearly what it needs to address problems or opportunities, and IT can and should help the CC understand what’s possible and the pros and cons of alternative approaches. Quarterly or biannual meetings with established suppliers can dive into functionality, architecture and technology issues, including security and resiliency. Contact center conferences, webinars, articles, white papers and eBooks are good (and plentiful) sources of information. Make sure you focus on what your center needs to improve operations, not just what looks new and exciting.

Use CC reports and data, along with agent input. For example, performance metrics such as time in IVR (without resolution or proper routing), high transfer rates, high or increasing handle times, low FCR, or inconsistencies in key performance indicators can reveal pain points and opportunities to improve. IT or vendors may also have data on performance of systems or networks (e.g., uptime, response time). Add the frontline perspective by having a clear, ongoing process to solicit feedback and communicate how you will use the data. Close the loop by showing what makes it on your “to do” list (and why), what is in evaluation, what is put onto future roadmap plans, what can’t be done (and why), and any compromises or alternatives being pursued to address the issue.

Assess, plan and improve existing technology. Centers that identify issues, review options and make plans to address them every six or 12 months get more out of their technology than ones that declare projects “done” and move on, never looking back. These reviews can and should be coordinated with the periodic vendor management meetings noted earlier.

When pursuing new technology, define and design anew, then optimize. Don’t just replicate the same old processes and configuration; design for business value. Define phases and stick with the plan. Do early checkup and optimization, for example, 90 days after cutover, when you are really getting to know the new technology. Revisit again 6-12 months later for more optimization and the next phase or functionality to make your center even better.

In sum, contact center leaders and IT, along with the vendors, play a collective role in optimizing technology. When they work together in pursuit of common goals, they drive greater value from existing technology or new solutions and ensure that each solution delivers on its promises.

Your Technology Improvement Checklist
Here is a visual “checklist” of some important things to do to work together to optimize contact center technology:
• Have dedicated, properly skilled and trained analyst(s)
• Encourage routine observations of contact handling by key IT staff
• Secure agent engagement in improvement opportunities and close the loop
• Develop and document requirements for new needs, gaps to fill, and issues to resolve
• Define SLAs between IT and the CC for critical services, just as you would with a vendor
• Formalize contact center technology education with an ongoing learning and development plan
SOURCEContact Center Pipeline January 2017
Lori Bocklund
Lori Bocklund is President of Strategic Contact, an independent consulting firm that helps companies optimize the value of their customer contact technology and operations. Lori helps corporate and government contact centers develop and execute plans tied to business goals, such as technology strategy, VoIP and virtualization planning, technology requirements and selection, and project management and implementation. Backed by more than 20 years in the industry, Lori has developed a deep understanding of a broad spectrum of systems, applications and operational environments and extraordinary skill in making today's complex technology environments more easily understood. She's a popular, enthusiastic presenter, author and advisor, and shares her knowledge and practical guidance through numerous speaking engagements, articles, technology courses, and her book, "Call Center Technology Demystified." Email: [email protected]