Make Contact Center Technology a Strategic Tool

FROM THE OCTOBER 2019 ISSUE

Challenges and Priorities Survey

I’ve logged a few decades working with hundreds of contact centers. So, here’s one thing I know for sure: Contact center technology can be absolutely transformative. But achieving that end result all boils down to the fundamentals of defining, planning, selecting, implementing and supporting technology.

Strategy and Planning

Strategy is the starting point, defining the “what, why, when and how.” Whether you have a steering committee or just need to submit your budget priorities to management, your technology plans need to provide a compelling value statement, an attractive return on investment, and minimal exposure to risk. It must also demonstrate a clear expectation of resources needed and the people and process changes that accompany the technology. If you haven’t thought things through, you shouldn’t put yourself through the approval process!

Collaboration and Relationships

Strategy requires a cross-functional team of business and IT leaders, working together to identify priorities and develop plans and requests for budgets. While the CC often has the lead role in defining the “wish list,” that list has a better chance of success when engaging others across the ecosystem. This collaboration should apply throughout the implementation phase and beyond.

Here are a few examples on which you need to collaborate for ongoing technology support and management.

Vendors are an increasingly important part of the collaboration and relationships needed for technology success. Cloud solutions, managed services and solution capabilities that require specialized expertise all elevate the vendors’ role in helping centers succeed with today’s technology. Examples abound: Artificial Intelligence applications, complex user interfaces for things like bots, workflows for process automation, and network and data services for fraud prevention, compliance, and authentication, to name a few. So, as you pursue solutions that have high reliance on the vendors, make sure things are well documented and communication channels are wide open. Convey you need them to be a trusted partner (not “just a vendor!”) and actively manage them to focus on and deliver capabilities that meet your specific needs.

One more thing to keep in mind is that in our fast-changing industry, you must keep up to date, together (CC, IT, vendors and others—like the risk management team), so you can apply new capabilities in a timely manner. Sign up for vendor email updates, go to vendor events, network and learn. And do it together with your IT/CC counterparts!

The Relentless Pursuit

Contact centers are by nature very reactionary, with legendary “fire-fighting” skills creating many a great customer success story. However, one of my frequently used lines is, “the tactical swamps the strategic.” Getting technology right is about not letting the day-to-day fire drills stop the ongoing activities to plan for, implement, and optimize changes. This relentless pursuit is perhaps the most compelling, single thing that needs to change with contact center technology. The passive, in our spare time, we’ll get to it later approach has held centers back from achieving their goals for too long.

We emphasize how collaboration and relationships are key—between the CC, IT and vendors. As you do the hard work to get value from contact center technology, here is the “Top 10” list of things to define so everyone is on the right page, and on the same page:

  1. Sourcing strategy—premise or cloud (and what type of cloud)
  2. Architecture—things like redundancy, network connectivity, desktops
  3. Administration/Management—who can do what types of changes, and how they are made
  4. Support—roles and responsibilities, and who can contact whom
  5. Monitoring—roles and responsibilities, and what happens if…
  6. Root Cause Analysis—a process that ensures issues lead to learning and changes
  7. Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery—documented plans that are tested and updated!
  8. Testing—what type of testing is needed and when, and who will perform it
  9. Security/compliance/fraud prevention—the hot buttons and how they are addressed
  10. Service Level Agreements—commitments for performance, responsiveness, resolution