16th August 2021
This is the second part of a conversation that began with a simple premise. Expected ROIs in new CX technologies fall short without associated changes in operating models. Maybe an obvious point but one I still come across in clients who ignore the necessary groundwork for whatever reasons. You can read the write up of that session here.
The next part of this conversation evolved with the help of Alex Turner, Head of omni-channel business design and architecture for O2 (Telefonica UK) and Martin Hill-Wilson who I’ve been collaborating with in the design and delivery of the overall CX Transparency series.
Not The Same As Before
We started by exploring how rapidly contact centre technology has evolved since many prospective buyers will have last needed to select their ‘best fit’ choice.
They will notice that there is now a staggering list of vendors to choose from. And more continue to arrive. All appear to do the job of satisfying both the operational needs of contact centre colleagues and today’s customer expectations for choice and low effort outcomes.
Some are evolved models that began life as voice only solutions. Others are omni-channel and SaaS from the get-go. These then remain up to date by virtue of an agile cloud delivery model which significantly reduces total cost of ownership relative to previous generations. Financial benefits extend further with those vendors willing to charge purely on client usage.
What else is different?
Today’s user interfaces are well designed, customizable, and screen responsive for those needing mobile flexibility. In terms of ‘what’s next’, most vendors will claim AI is already baked into their platforms marking the start of a whole new chapter in smart customer interaction.
What is certainly true is that years of intense rivalry has narrowed the gap between best and worst. As a result, knowing how to whittle down the list is even more of a challenge than it was back in the day.
How do you end up with the right shortlist?
Looking through the lens of a large organisation such as O2, there are some obvious criteria. Is the vendor willing to fill specific gaps in an existing multi-vendor architecture rather than insist on a rip and replace strategy? Can the solution prove its ability to operate at scale?
What appetite does the business have for experimenting with challenger brands or leading-edge solutions? For instance, as Paul wondered, is real-time, on-screen agent guidance either a support or distraction for agents engaged in sales interactions that demand regulatory adherence? You might decide the jury is still out on its value.
Then there are considerations around how user needs are best fulfilled as part of your service engagement strategy. For instance, how does triaging via digital voice with escalation to live assistance compare with asynchronous messaging? Is one a better investment? Or, do both need to be operationalised under the principle of offering customers their preferred channel of choice?
Reaching these types of decision need the guidance of well researched user stories that capture the priorities of customers and colleagues. For instance, O2 will typically share specific customer journeys and associated target customer experiences to focus vendors on specific conversations and any unique functionality they can offer to help differentiate O2.
In my experience, this approach provides an alternative way of engaging fewer vendors faster as compared with the traditional RFI process which many find high effort and slow moving. Instead, my advice is to invest in up-front preparation around building consensus on priority user stories. Then use them to drives better quality conversations with fewer vendors who can show how their solution performs in relation to these specific needs.
This also provides a great opportunity for the vendor to show how their solution can be operationally tweaked in response to the constant flux in operational demand. Back in the day, service teams suffered the slow and expensive process of submitting ‘adds-moves-changes’ type change control requests to internal IT teams who then had to schedule the specialist partner or SI to do the work.
Today’s generation of solution is different. Secure, self-service styled administration allows for instant responsiveness using trained in-house operational teams. It’s faster and cheaper so well worth exploring. Incidentally this approach redefines the role of external partners to more occasional and strategic interventions.
If any of this resonates, feel free to contact me and I’ll be delighted to share more detail on how to develop this new approach. Meanwhile you might want to settle in for a listen to the whole roundtable. I only managed to capture some of the highlights. Both Paul and Martin had plenty of great insights to share and it is well worth a listen.
As ever, thanks for reading.
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