Basics That Power the Modern Contact Center

“Let’s use artificial intelligence. Then we can leapfrog the competition and wipe out the backlog in our IT bucket.” I recently spoke to fellow business consultants about how fun the new tricks in my bag are, but that solid basics are still required. So, instead of talking about the new and cool tools, this blog post introduces a series about the (not-so-boring) basics for modernizing the contact center.

It’s been intriguing to me to see the removal — or maybe, more accurately, the reduction — of cursive writing from school curriculum. In fact, I’m not sure my millennial sons can read or write in cursive, but I do know they communicate very well. Even if spelling and grammar are automated and they use modern tools to connect, they still use words are to convey meaning.

To bring that back to the contact center world, I get to help contact center leaders as they seek to improve their operations, engage with their customers in new and powerful ways, and essentially look to modernize. It’s exciting to have conversations in those contexts about artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud technologies that are actually real. However, as I work to match those tools with my clients’ business needs, I continue to discover that my clients need help with the basics — words have not gone away. If you’re one of those struggling with basics, don’t be ashamed because you are in some amazing company.

A Look at the Basics

I credit my teammate Jodi Thompson with coining the phrase “The 3 Rs for the contact center.” They include routing, reporting and resources.

Routing is about connecting the right work with the right resource at the right time; it’s a match game. Reporting is about proving that something got done and how it got done. It lets you reward goodness and focus improvement based on data. Resources are about supporting who, or what, does the work in your business. The advent of machine learning in the natural language understanding world has made this third “R” about way more than people. These core domains will make up my basics series:

  • Foundational routing patterns
  • Best practices for contact center data
  • Omnichannel blending models

While each domain has its own basic rules and techniques, one of the basics most forgotten is that you must align routing, reporting and resources for your contact center to run. You shouldn’t change one without considering the others. As you go through this blog series, I’ll remind you of that.

Getting Started

To kick off the series, let’s talk about the basic that underpins it all — knowing what you’re trying to do. To pick the best “for you” practices, I start with these questions:

  1. What are your success metrics for modernizing your contact center?
    1. These are the ones that drive you to action, not just report on them.
  2. What is prioritized on a bad day? When push comes to shove, something always gives. What is it?
    1. This is sometimes unspoken, but everyone “knows” what to do when things go south.
  3. What are your constraints?
    1. Considerations here are often legal or contractual demands. However, another important question is whether you have low volume work that can’t be overrun by high volume work.

How you answer these questions gives you the framework for how to route and set up your resources as well as what you need to report on. One quick note: When I work through this with my clients, there’s sometimes a dissonance between the spoken and unspoken goals. If you find that true, resolving that is a huge next step. It makes your design of advanced capabilities as well as any clean up of your foundations meaningful.


The automation and predictive capabilities coming with AI and cloud deployments are awesome. You’ll be amazed at what’s possible to personalize your engagements, unleash your employees so they wow you and your customers, and to free you from the mundane. These cool new tools are not an or to your current operations — they’re an and. They build on a solid foundation in routing and reporting, and they interface with — not just replace — your resources. So, while you may not write your notes in cursive anymore, I bet you still use words. The basics for modernizing your contact center will always apply.

Watch this analyst webinar to learn what to look for in a cloud contact center.