Bill Gates, 640KB, and How Things Change

In a recent post I imagined how Steve Jobs would re-invent your back office. In this blog I’d like to put another industry icon in the spotlight: Bill Gates.

Probably just as famous as the Steve Jobs quote, “Today, Apple reinvents the phone” is one from Gates, who said “640KB ought to be enough for everybody” when it came personal computing power.

If we wind back the clock and apply Bill’s logic to the customer service industry, he could have said something like, “One channel ought to be enough for everybody.” Really?

In hindsight, it’s easy to say Bill’s 640KB statement was not very forward-thinking, but did you predict 20 years ago that your customers would contact your organization using a mobile internet device, and send 140 character messages to their followers and potentially cause your brand reputation to erode?

I will confess that I did not.

The key takeaway from this is that when you select a new Customer Engagement Platform, you have to obviously make sure it can serve your current needs. But perhaps even more important is that it is built on an architecture that is ready for new channels and all the future ways that your customers will expect to engage with you.

With the future in mind, here are six requirements to consider for your next Customer Engagement Platform:

1. Make sure it’s open & standards-based.

Many solutions today have implemented some form of standardization, but they often require adding an additional layer on top of the standard protocols to add unique functionality. The challenge is that this typically creates a vendor lock-in. You can only use equipment from one vendor. An open and standards-based solution will make sure you have flexibility and options in the future.

2. Make sure it has one administration & configuration environment

When you use several solutions to deal with all your customer communication channels, chances are you will need to configure and provision these using multiple interfaces and admin tools and run them on different types of systems.

3. Make sure you have one business rules engine for all channels

Today’s customer is a ‘cross-channel’ customer. Customers will switch from one channel to the other to get their question answered or their problem resolved. A solution that includes a single business rules engine that can make cross-channel decisions and preserve the customer context no matter where the customer decides to take the conversation goes a long way at delivering a consistent customer experience across all channels.

4. Make sure your employees have one desktop to manage customer engagement

Often, employees need to change desktop applications if they are requested to switch channels and handle emails instead of telephony or handle back-office tasks, for example. These ‘transition moments’ add up to the inefficiency in your organization and hinder internal quality, one of the reasons why employees get demotivated and leave.

5. Make sure your Workforce Optimization solution supports all channels

In the early days, there were a limited number of non-voice channels so the business case to invest in workforce optimization technology for those channels was not strong. But with today’s customers embracing new channels at staggering pace, you can no longer afford not to take the same old approach. Ideally, you need to select a Customer Engagement Platform that comes with an integrated Workforce Optimization capability.

6. Make sure it supports Cloud, On Premise and everything in between

The way contact center technology is consumed is changing. Moving Enterprise applications into the cloud has a number of benefits. However, many organizations recognize that it’s not as simple as flipping a switch. A clear transition strategy needs to be put in place so that you can ‘change the engines while the plane is in flight.

When you keep these six requirements in mind, you will be in-position to deliver the best business results for your organization — like reducing the total cost of ownership, providing a consistent customer experience across all channels and above all, being ready for the future so that nobody will blame you when you said ‘One channel ought to be enough for everybody’ in 20 years from now.

Bring your contact center into the future. Start by download our eBook, 7 Blueprints to Contact Center Modernization.