7 Things Coca-Cola Learned While Transforming Their Customer Experience

When I was a sophomore in high school, some classmates and I traveled to Sabinas Hidalgo, a small town in Nuevo León, Mexico, to help a local parish build their church. I met so many amazing people during those 10 days of hard work in the hot sun, but one person I’ll never forget was a local craftsman named Eduardo.

Eddy, as he insisted we call him, pulled up to our construction site at the end of each long day with a case of ice cold bottles of Coca-Cola. In his small town, Coke was an expensive commodity and Eddy’s generosity was a costly gesture. Though we spoke different languages and had very little in common, Eddy connected with this group of teenagers from Illinois, if only for a few moments, over a simple bottle of Coke.

It’s impossible to overstate the impact the Coca-Cola brand has on our collective human experience. From the revolutionary “hobble skirt” bottle design, to the invention of the six-pack, and even the modern conception of what Santa Claus looks like, innovations from Coca-Cola are ubiquitous in our everyday lives. With a portfolio that boasts more than 3,500 beverages and 500 brands, the company reaches 99% of humankind.

Because of this global scale, the team at Coca-Cola knew that selecting the right customer experience solution provider was crucial to their continued brand success. And that’s why Coca-Cola selected Genesys to not only be their customer experience technology provider but also (and more importantly) a business partner who shares their passion for connecting the iconic Coke brand with consumers who love it.

In a joint webinar with Genesys, Nicole Thomas, AVP of Coca-Cola Business Services in North America, shared some amazing insights on how a brand as beloved as Coca-Cola continues to drive success by putting their customers first. Here’s what Nicole learned while transforming the Coca-Cola customer experience platform.

1. Outdated, disparate systems don’t work for today’s customers.

Disparate systems and technologies simply don’t play nice together. With three separate systems, the Coca-Cola Business Services team found that their legacy, on-premises systems didn’t offer the flexibility and interoperability they needed. They were also cost-prohibitive to maintain and made reporting and analytics extremely challenging.

“We were operating in a situation where we had three disparate solutions. None of them really talked to each other, and it was quite a challenge to have those systems integrate or play nice together. So, we took the opportunity to really look and see if we could find one solution provider that ultimately could reduce our total cost of ownership, simplify our technical architecture, get us down to one solution that would do call routing, workforce management, quality assurance, all those things.” – Nicole Thomas

2. Gaining internal buy-in is easy when you make the right case for it.

Many IT and business leaders choose to defer migrating to a new solution because they expect it to be costly; gaining consensus and budget can be challenging. However, the business case becomes a “no-brainer” when the new solution promises a 50% reduction in TCO, as it did for Coca-Cola Business Services. They also wanted to avoid the looming maintenance costs for their existing systems and invest in new technology.

With a cloud-based solution, we were able to reduce our TCO by 50%. That was a huge value to us, being in a shared-services and cost-pass-through environment. And then we also spent some time, as we were going through the RFP, on making sure that we were identifying the partner that was best in class from a platform perspective.” – NT

Coca-Cola examined three primary cost categories in their TCO analysis: infrastructure, software licenses, and ongoing resources and support. They also spent a significant amount of time internally with business stakeholders to build out the right solution requirements.

“By just building out the right business case for our executive leadership team, we were able to really easily gain their buy-in to move forward. Once they saw the technology improvements, the new capabilities, the flexibility, and then also the reduction in cost, it was a pretty easy sell, from our perspective.” – NT

3. Start small and take a phased approach.

Coca-Cola Business Services faced looming maintenance costs on outdated legacy systems. They knew they needed to move forward in phases. So, they determined their critical Day 1 capabilities and focused on those first, given their extremely aggressive timeline.

“We knew that, in five months, we weren’t going to be able to do everything. And we really had to stay focused on what was priority #1 for operations: making sure that we did not impact the customer in any way and that we could still deliver on service. So, we focused on call routing and the IVR.” – NT

4. Focus on change management.

Change management is essential for an initiative of this scope, so Coca-Cola Business Services established a robust change management plan. They engaged agents from all groups and formed a cross-functional committee to review communications, ask questions and offer insights from a frontline perspective.

“We really had a lot of participation and involvement at the agent level and were also very heavy on, from a quality-assurance perspective, the User Accepted Testing [UAP]. We used a cross-functional group to complete that testing within the business and made sure that we had robust tracking and daily routines to track our progress throughout the UAP and call out any issues or concerns—anything that needed to be addressed—to make sure that when we did get to that first deployment on Day 1 that everything went as smoothly as possible.” – NT

Coca-Cola Business Services also partnered with Genesys University to outline the various training areas and identify the right audience for each one. They then determined where to bundle the training together.

“We certainly were not the experts. And we needed [Genesys] expertise and their knowledge and experience to build the right training for our teams. And, that phased approach helped us so it wasn’t as daunting to have to train everybody all at one time. We could do it over the course of several different phases.” – NT

5. Day 1 planning is critical.

For their initial phase, Coca-Cola Business Services needed to “lift and shift” their old capabilities to the new Genesys platform. And they wanted system availability to be 99.9% or greater.

“We needed our workforce management and quality functionality to be up and running — hitting our data center deadlines, and then making sure that we had reporting in place where we could continue to run the business and not see any interruption or disruption there. And then, from a measurements standpoint, we looked at system availability being 99.9% or greater. And it was a huge success. In the end, we didn’t have any interruptions in service throughout the go-live phases. And we didn’t have any impact to our customer, which was ultimately the goal that we wanted to hit. The Genesys implementation team was really critical to our success.” – NT

A big part of their success came from incorporating “floor walkers” to assist in getting people logged in and up to speed. Despite significant communication and training in advance, the team anticipated that people would be more comfortable with having someone hold their hands while doing something for the first time.

“No matter how much you train people or how much you communicate with job aids and emails, somebody might not read them. Or they might have a question they don’t ask. So, a takeaway for us was that, even though you’ve done all those things and you feel like you’ve really over-delivered there, you still also need on-the-ground support in place to make sure that people are comfortable. And if you need to hold peoples’ hands through it, they’re available to do so.” – NT

6. Choose a business partner—not just another technology vendor.

Coca-Cola needed a provider with the right technology to meet their specific business requirements on an extremely tight timeline. They were looking for a cloud-based solution that would provide additional capabilities beyond what they currently had, and at a lower cost than their disparate legacy technologies. The Genesys® PureConnectTM platform was the only solution to meet their business requirements and made it possible for Coca-Cola Business Services to complete their first deployment in just five months.

“We selected Genesys because they were the one vendor that was able to meet the majority of our business requirements throughout that RFP process. They hit 98% of the requirements that we had defined. And we really wanted to focus on building a true partnership and not put ourselves in a situation with a vendor who’s only interested in selling you the next latest, greatest feature or functionality. But that they were really going to be a partner with us and help us to deliver on our business plan, deliver on results and make sure that we were meeting our priorities.” –NT

7. Always check references. 

During the RFP process, Coca-Cola made sure they identified a technology partner that was best in class. So, they spent time with Gartner, who has consistently recognized Genesys as a Magic Quadrant leader in both contact center hardware and cloud-based solutions. They also chose to invest a significant amount of time speaking with other Genesys customers about delivering a true partnership.

“We spent a significant amount of time going through some customer-reference calls, talking to existing customers and getting their feedback on how Genesys was a business partner and really delivered on that promise. So, we felt really good about the references and the feedback we received from those customers on making that decision to move forward with Genesys.” – NT


True Business Transformation Begins With Successful Business Outcomes

Coca-Cola Business Services reduced TCO by 50% while maintaining service levels. They completed 100% of their Day 1 outbound calls and, depending on the group (because business objectives varied), they addressed either 80% of inbound calls within 20 seconds or 85% within 45 seconds.

“In the end, we consolidated to one solution that was in a cloud-based environment. We increased our response time to business requests. We maintained our service levels. And then from a customer standpoint, we increased our capabilities. There’s just so much more flexibility and capabilities and options than we had previously. Plus, we’ve simplified our tools and improved the employee experience. It’s really opened up the opportunities for us.” – NT

To learn more about the full customer experience transformation at Coca-Cola, view the recording of our recent Customer Showcase webinar. This three-part webinar series, which focuses on customer experience transformations, also features insights from industry experts and analysts like Forrester. And be sure to take advantage of our free fast-track assessment, part of the Genesys PureBridge program, to identify technology gaps in your contact center and understand what business transformation could look like for your organization. We look forward to sharing a bottle of Coke with you!