June 22, 2023 – Duration 00:31:52

S4 Ep. 1 Ascension “Spring Cleaning” Strategy for a Successful Migration to Cloud CX

Too often, organizations moving from on-premises customer experience technology to a cloud-based CX platform try to replicate their current operations — rather than taking the opportunity to reinvent them. In this episode, Brian T. Jones, Senior Specialist, Technology, AP Digital Care Communications, at Ascension Technologies, explains how the IT arm of Ascension Health was able to make improvement like downsizing to one dynamic call flow by being open to the art of the possible.


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Brian Jones

Brian Jones

Senior Specialist, Technology, and AP Digital Care Communications for Ascension Technologies

Brian T. Jones is Senior Specialist, Technology, and AP Digital Care Communications for Ascension Technologies. He has more than 20 years’ experience in customer service and technology roles, with previous positions at companies such as Lucent Technologies, WellPoint and Express Scripts. Jones is ix Sigma Green Belt Certified in Genesys and ServiceNow CRM implementations and holds an MBA from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. 

Ascension Strategy for a Successful Migration to Cloud CX

Here are conversation highlights from this episode, slightly edited and condensed. Go to the timestamps in the recording for the full comments.

Welcome to the show, Brian. Tell us about your career path and what you do for Ascension Technologies.

Brian T. Jones (01:06): 

I’m a Senior Technical Specialist with Ascension Technologies, which is the IT department for Ascension Health. I joined the team in 2017 from a technologies perspective, but I’ve been working for Ascension since 2011. Prior to that, I worked at Lucent Technologies and then I worked for an educational software company, followed by a major insurance organization, Wellpoint. I have a lot of customer service and management experience as well as training experience.  

When I first joined, my primary focus was systems integration, workforce management, analytics and strategic initiatives. I reported to a director who reported to the CEO. So, I had to know all things contact center and technology, especially when they were looking to implement something new. 

You have contact center experience that’s all-encompassing, so we can ask you just about anything.

Brian T. Jones (02:34): 

Yes. And that’s key in implementations. A contact center manager really doesn’t know all the ins and outs of the technology. And the engineers and developers really don’t have good insight into the operations. So, when one asks for one thing, the other is just going to give them what they ask for without giving any operational thought to how it should work.  

In my role, I work very hard to implement solutions that meet the operational need while also ensuring that the operations team understands the limitations or the roadmap for the technology.  

It sounds like you’re a bit of an interpreter that’s bringing these teams together that speak slightly different languages.

Brian T. Jones (03:59): 

That’s exactly right. And I owe a lot of that to when I first started out at Lucent. I was a technical consultant, so my job was to go sit with the business, find out their pain points, and figure out how to make their jobs more efficient. That experience has served me better than probably any of my previous roles. 

As Ascension was shifting over from on-premises to cloud, what were some of the steps you took to make sure it was as smooth as it could be?

Brian T. Jones (04:36): 

There was some pre-planning involved. When we were on the Genesys PureConnect® application, our team was working a lot harder than we probably needed to. And, so, we discussed introducing efficiencies to our call flow builds and user management. And then we liaised with operations for the discovery process and started building things out. We implemented a lot of those changes prior to going to Genesys Cloud. So, the foundation was there to make the transition easier. We also had Genesys experts assess the most efficient way to get into the cloud.  

Once we had that done, we took a one-call-flow approach. Instead of building hundreds of call flows in Genesys Cloud. We built one dynamic call flow that could essentially handle small, medium, large and extremely complex call flow designs — and implemented data tables to handle all the management of the call flows from an attribute perspective, a menuing perspective, an audio perspective, chat, everything.  

All of that is in a handful of data tables that we have now, as opposed to building out one flow for, say Conlon Family Practice and another one for Logan Family Practice. 

Everything we’re doing now is a result of proper preplanning so when we transitioned to the cloud, we could leave all the extraneous stuff behind and pare down to just what we need. One call flow, multiple data tables. And it’s been an extremely smooth process.  

In fact, we’ve migrated over about 4,000 users and our user provisioning process is so streamlined we’re able to add a user in minutes as opposed to a half an hour or more. We’ve reduced a lot of that time because we properly weeded out all that extraneous activity and are working smarter now. 

What a great story. How does this help when working with other teams?

Brian T. Jones (11:12): 

Because we’re using data tables and a single call flow for voice and a single flow for SMS, for email and even for our bot, everything is aligned so well now. Our data tables are where all the variables are. So, when we’re working with a team like the Google Dialogue flow team, the level of effort for us to integrate with that in Genesys is very easy.   

We have to jump through so many other hoops for all the other integrations we have. Our interaction flows and our data tables make it easy to do whatever we need to do as efficiently as possible. And once we have an integration set up in Genesys Cloud, I can do anything with it. Like, literally, I can make it dance. It’s that easy. 

How important was your pre-planning to all this?

Brian T. Jones (13:03): 

A lot of people get stuck in, “That’s the way we’ve always done it” and “You can’t cut corners.” It has nothing to do with any of that. It’s just, I’m a very logical thinker. Our team is just a very logical thinking team. And logic works well with Genesys Cloud and the interaction flows; it’s all logic. And so, when you step back and say, “Do we really need all this extraneous stuff? What is it doing for us?” And, then spring clean before you migrate to cloud, that makes a world of difference.  

Too many organizations end up taking the same mess they had in one system and migrating it into the new system without weeding out all the extraneous stuff. But we’re not building it from the ground up or starting over. We’re taking all the best of what’s there and making it better. And then when we migrate it into Genesys Cloud, it will naturally become the best. It’s just how it works.  

How did you get buy-in for that approach?

Brian T. Jones (14:40): 

We’re a technologies team, so we’re always being challenged as an organization to think and work smarter — and ideate. We have ideation contests and things like to find ways to make things more efficient or better.  

I love the organization because of that. I’m able to bring a lot of the prior experience I had to the table and the Kaizen mentality that I have to continuously improve and make things efficient. I’m constantly thinking, “Instead of doing 10 steps, I can probably do that in like two if I were to make this formula or if I were do this line of code.”  

People notice that and trust our team: “Whatever you need to do to make it more efficient, we’re giving you that free will to go ahead and do that. Just make sure test before you deploy.” And that’s what we do. We’ll build it, test it, and then deploy it in. And then things working better or faster. That’s what they hired us to do; not just sit here and wait for problems to occur.  

Have you seen a change to the project management style during or since the cloud migration?

Brian T. Jones (16:55): 

Project managers love working with our team. First, because we can adapt to any type of project management style. They have milestones and objectives they have to hit, and our team can typically exceed those expectations and always hit the milestones. Also, we don’t promise anything we can’t deliver. We’re very transparent in saying, “Hey, either we or the product can’t do X, Y or Z, so please don’t offer that up to the business to do.”   

We’ve recently moved more towards an agile approach where you iterate…. Our projects went from a 60- to 90-day turnaround time — because there’s a lot you have to do in Genesys PureConnect, even with efficiencies — to four to six weeks. Some things we can build things in a day, but to do it right and to train the staff, it could take four to six weeks.  

From your perspective, all of this work you’ve done, what do you feel has been the biggest impact, either on the customer experience or the employee experience or, or both?

Brian T. Jones (23:02): 

Starting with our team, the work we’ve all done has made our jobs easier, more fun. Our team now can focus more on servicing.  

From an Ascension employee experience, our team now can spend a bit more time focusing on solving technical support issues. We’ve also built an intranet where we have our public-facing knowledge base articles so all our users can self-support, as well as all the training materials we put together. We put our stats out there from a technology standpoint, as well as some FAQs. I’ll write some different blog posts there about best practices. 

So, our users are now not only more educated, but they also are enjoying Genesys Cloud because of the ease to transition to it. It’s easy to use, you can use it from anywhere because it’s web-based. Also, they’re getting constant knowledge dumps from our team. We’re going to start doing lunch and learns. We can spend more time doing that as an, as a technologies team for our users and they’re enjoying it.  

And then, from the customer experience perspective, it’s a big game changer.  

What business improvements have you seen?

Brian T. Jones (25:47): 

With the Salesforce integration it allows the business to get attributes about a call piped right into a case they’re working on, which saves 20 seconds or so. The parametized URLs are great for the CRMs we’ve implemented them with, collecting information from the caller through the IVR and then just popping that right to the agents so they don’t have to repeat questions. That’s been a big satisfier for our agents and saves time. Also, the addition of the screen capture was a game changer for our Salesforce users. Now every inbound and outbound queued interaction is captured and transcribed captured. 

Last question. What was the biggest ``Aha!`` moment for you during the shift to cloud?

Brian T. Jones (29:02): 

The biggest “Aha!” moment initially was the fact that Genesys Cloud lends itself so well to the design approach we have, the dynamic call flows and the data table usage. And then, I would say now that we’re approaching the landing strip on this migration, the biggest aha is the time savings and just breathing like, man, this is easy.