Selecting the Right Technology Partner Should Be at the Top of Your Decision Criteria

WRITTEN BY MARTIN TRACEY

2018 Contact Center Technology Survey Reveals Critical Needs
Illustration by Alexandra Able for Pipeline
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A CCaaS Solutions Provider’s CEO Offers His Thoughts on the 2018 Contact Center Technology Survey Findings

As the second line of the 2018 Contact Center Technology Survey special report puts it, “Some things never change.” Every year, it is amazing to see an obvious disconnect between the way organizations select their contact center technology and their satisfaction with that technology. In our 22 years in the contact center industry, we have seen close to 100 solutions, and I would not describe more than a couple of them as bad solutions. At the same time, we have seen hundreds of unsatisfied contact center customers that did not put enough emphasis on finding the right partner and have ended up with good technology that was improperly designed, implemented and/or managed.

Our teams have been engaged for decades correcting errors that often come at a hefty cost to the customer. The biggest factor we have seen in the success of a contact center is the combination of a great technology partner and an internal team committed to improvement. Yet all too often, customers focus on the wrong things when it comes to choosing and implementing technology.

Along this same line of lessons learned it is funny to see in the survey that 48.39% say a top driver for acquiring new technology is that their technology is out of date or unsupported. At the same time only 28% deemed themselves as laggards, if your technology is outdated or end of life you are officially a laggard!

As we look at the decision criteria, we see “Features and Functions” and cost at the top of the list. Ironically, there is very little feature disparity in between the top solutions in the CCaaS (Contact Center-as-a-Service) space. What’s more, with rapid development cycles in the cloud, those features become effectively equal within a couple of months. Additionally, these top solutions have very marginal differences in their pricing. So, we would expect that as more companies move towards CCaaS solutions, these top decision criteria should become less important over the next few years.

In the survey, it is nice to see that upper management is recognizing the value in finding the right solution regardless of cost. Cost is down from 82% six years ago to 51%. At the same time, most people who have spent their careers around contact centers realize that properly designed and managed contact centers pay for themselves many times over in direct and indirect revenue. Thanks to better reporting tools, analytics and applications like WFM, it is now easier for contact center leadership to make this argument to senior management. Also, the OPEX nature of the cloud can sometimes make it easier to get access to more advanced applications, as it doesn’t require a large capital investment upfront.

The survey seemed to reflect the reality that most companies are open to looking at CCaaS. This is largely driven by access to higher level applications through CCaaS that many call centers might previously have been priced out of. Somewhat surprising to see was that 60% of participants noted security as a strong barrier to adoption. This is unexpected when we consider that almost every organization has some type of cloud-based solution today, whether it is a CRM, data storage, email, ERP or something else. When you compare the proprietary nature of the data in CRMs, email and data storage to that of a contact center, most contact center data is rather basic. Aside from credit card information that is covered under CPI compliance, most of the sensitive data is actually stored or shared with the CRM. Our experience as a master solutions provider has been that security concerns tend to be more of an IT “front to change” than an actual issue. We have worked with multiple companies whose IT departments expressed great concern over the contact center being in the cloud when, in fact, the organization was already using Office 365 and SalesForce!

It’s not surprising to see implementation still listed as a top challenge, but it is troubling, as CCaaS is easily executable with the proper planning, resources and time. Contact centers are complex and mutable environments that require detailed planning with processes broken down into manageable chunks. In today’s contact centers, there are too many variables to tackle everything at once, and as soon as you execute one channel or application, there is a new one waiting for you. It is crucial that you assist your partner in creating a vision road map for your contact center and breaking it up into manageable projects that eventually realize the contact center team’s vision. This sounds simple on paper, but executing it takes time, real expertise and total buy in from you CC management teams. With that said, the alternative is what most contact centers have today: underperforming technology and centers.

All of this really drives home the argument for why the proper selection of a long-term partner should be moving to the top of the decision list. With contact centers evolving to support the multiple channels that customers prefer to us today, strong partnerships and a deeper level of expertise beyond just the product is key. Another advantage of a strong partner is that the employee turnover rate is far lower than in the CC world, so you have more stable access to expertise and can operate proactively to continually evolve your contact center as new applications become available.

The survey asked respondents how reliable their contact centers were. From the last time these companies were surveyed, there was an increase in concern over frequent issues and a decrease in a general sense of reliability. Complexity is a main source of these issues. Another big factor not mentioned is the decentralized nature of so many of today’s contact centers, with agents at multiple sites and at home. This has increased the amount of contact center transactions that are subject to the difficulties of managing a real-time application like voice over WAN and the internet. Over 40% of the trouble tickets our TAC take every year end up being network based issues that are affecting real time traffic quality like voice and video.

As technology advances at a more rapid rate than any other time in history, the key to success with technology remains mostly the same: planning, design, project management, total commitment and on-going pro-active expertise and support. All of this of course requires the financial and motivational support of senior management. It is a great time for contact center technology, and thanks to some great new applications, we can prove to senior leadership that the contact center is always a revenue driver.

Martin Tracey is CEO of LANtelligence, Inc. Martin started his career in Telecom industry with big carriers like Bell Canada over 25 years ago. In 1998, he founded Comsel Communications, a Telephony Value added Reseller. In 2000, became one of the first ShoreTel partners and was one of the first companies to provide only VoIP solutions. In 2007, Tracey acquired LANtelligence, and created a brand of a truly pro-active solution and support organization. Now, he is one of the biggest advocates for digital transformation in customer experience (CX).
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