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Take the long view while meeting short-term needs and turn your new technology pursuit into a contact center bonanza.
Many contact centers are ready to pursue new technology. The need for change might spring from resource limitations in IT and a shift in sourcing strategy that triggers a readiness for cloud solutions across the organization. Some have old solutions that need replacing. Others have known gaps that impact their ability to meet operational needs and serve customers in excellence. The lucky ones are simply growing and maturing.
As independent consultants, many companies engage with us to help with technology strategy and planning, as well as technology requirements and selection projects. The scope of needs can be wide-ranging — omnichannel routing and reporting, workforce engagement management (WEM), voicebots and chatbots, knowledge management (KM), automation and agent assist, and even good old telephony for the rest of the enterprise. Or they might be focused on addressing a specific pain point, meeting a vision for change or targeting a competitive gap.
Typical questions that surface include:
Contact centers are frequently overwhelmed by the mind-numbing array of options and fear making the wrong choices or missing out on something they heard or read about last week. They wonder if all their needs can be addressed with a single solution or, failing that, how all the pieces will fit together. Meanwhile, they’re living with limitations on time, money and resources.
If you’re struggling with these tortuous and competing perspectives, I offer these thoughts to help you break the logjam and find your way forward.
Contact centers with entrenched technology and/or limited resources for projects often find point solutions irresistible. They may be anxious to fill known gaps in functionality and reap the benefits touted by vendors and their customers. Conversational bots, speech analytics and knowledge management solutions are typical examples. When excitement builds for a new technology, the prospect of a quick win can sometimes overtake a more comprehensive look at current and future needs.
While momentum can be a good thing, a hasty approach to filling gaps generally comes with longer-term headaches when the point solutions aren’t fully integrated with the overall technology environment. In most cases, the end-to-end customer experience — or agent and supervisor experience — is viewed as something to tackle down the road, and that can be very bad for everyone. For example:
Independent of these deficits, point solutions might not feed into the center’s reporting, quality monitoring, and workforce management processes, creating more effortful (and less precise) support processes.
A strategic perspective really matters. It must consider the various use cases that determine what customers do, how the contact center provides great service, how agents succeed and how the leadership manages performance.
Figure 1. Why a strategic perspective matters: Everything is connected.
Vendors and value-added resellers understand the buyer’s dilemma and respond with a strong message about how they can address it all — in one swoop if the buyers are ready and able. They talk about their platforms and suites of capabilities that integrate well, allow contact centers to leverage what they can on Day 1, and evolve to more comprehensive solutions when ready. In short, the message is: “Don’t worry! Our solution will meet your needs today and tomorrow.”
While seller messaging might ring common notes, the differentiators are in these eight key areas:
It’s easy to be cynical and think you can’t have it all. It is also easy to be fascinated with the latest technology (especially if “AI” is in the description) and think a single change will be transformational.
In my experience, intriguing point solutions often fall short of expectations. Picking a partner, a platform and a suite of capabilities launches companies onto new paths for continuous improvement of customer, supervisor, analyst and agent experiences. The difference is an exploration of all that’s possible across an extended horizon versus a short-sighted view of one pain point or opportunity.
As you explore what’s next for your technology, don’t push the big picture and your long-term success out of view. Even if you don’t do it all in that first implementation cycle, buying a platform from a vendor that can truly serve your current and future needs makes more sense than finding a “quick hit.” Take an approach that helps you address those wide-ranging needs ensures you don’t miss out and proves you can do it all — on your timeline.
For additional insights, I encourage you to listen to a recent webinar “Fresh Thinking to Fuel Your RFP Process.” The session explores:
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