1st November 2022
Vendors’ drumbeat is hypnotic. It tells a story of how things might be in simple compelling messages. Imagine how much better, easier and award winning your contact centres would be once you replace old with new!
I’ve been close enough to those stories to testify that things really have never been better. The technology driving today’s solutions is a quantum leap from a decade ago. In a marketplace packed with choice, vendors recognise the high bar required even to be noticed.
As a result, functionality is rich and stays relevant once you onboard their SaaS model. Intense competition delivers pricing that democratises access to advanced functionality. Start-ups can now disrupt established brands with slick customer experience (CX).
The dynamics are even in place for another wave of accelerated innovation. The pandemic and need for contactless engagement triggered a race to digital first agendas. Contact centres saved many a brand reputation and earnt executive gratitude with increased budget as reward. At the same time, working from home cemented the need for flexible, scalable infrastructure. The net result? Brands are hungry for new ways to engage and keep customers loyal.
Why am I saying that investing in CX technology solves nothing?
Because it does not deliver the wish list that motivated the desire to invest in the first place. It seems the idea that technology only enables is a truth that often hides in plain sight. But it really is obvious when you think about it. Whenever an old way of doing something becomes obsolete, the benefit lies in inventing a better way rather than sticking with the familiar.
If CX technology enables a better way for customers to resolve issues and operational management to become more front footed and less reactive, then that happy path still must be designed, tested and embedded.
It all starts with understanding needs
Of course, we know that it all begins with understanding what is needed. But have we dug into user feedback and understood the detail of pain points and missed opportunity? Which matter more? What is essential now? Have we thought through what will be needed once the foundations are in place? And can we keep swapping around the Lego blocks as things change as they undoubtably will?
This clarity is best generated and understood on a team wide basis. That is a cross functional team wide basis. There are many skills, perspectives and types of expertise required to modernise the way contact centre organise and deliver their services. It begins with alignment of understanding and a clear north star orientation. From advisors to in-house technologists. Subject matter experts to service designers. It’s an eclectic mix.
These discussions combined with analysis of functional and experiential needs provide the criteria against which we can choose best technologies and partners. It helps us redesign customer journeys and operating models so that new ways of working and delivering customer outcome become clear to everyone involved. This enables daily behaviour and routine to evolve.
While some might baulk at the time and expense getting these teams together, it is worth comparing this investment to the cost of getting things wrong. Right now, there is a growing consensus, heard across both social and traditional media, that post pandemic customer service has become a worse experience in certain cases. Rushed deployments of automation, bots and new channels have added complexity and frustration for customers rather than deliver their intended improvement. So, there is current evidence of the need to do much more than simply switch on new technology.
This is not an issue solely caused by the recent pandemic. Looking back at previous CX technology replacement cycles, solutions such as workforce management or knowledge management were particularly prone to being replaced unnecessarily. This was because vital changes in operating model were not thought through, and the technology was then blamed for failing to live up to expectation.
Transformation should have no end
This leads me to my final point. If a new technology is thought about as an event within a finite project plan rather than an ongoing evolution, value will drain away, and user experience will decline.
Certainly, there are milestones that mark the point at which a new solution is ready to be scaled for everyday use. But there is a never-ending process of optimisation and adaptation to changing user needs and indeed changing functionality with each SaaS upgrade that needs to be organised, resourced and tracked. Adapting the team mix to do this is sensible. But closing down the team completely is a mistake.
In summary, new CX technology changes everything when everything is changed to enable it to keep delivering the value promised in that vendor drumbeat.
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Author: Sean Keane, Consulting Director, Davies Consulting
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