What defines efficiency in the modern call centre? Is it always-on access? Is it the omnichannel? Is it the ability to engage with customers in real time?
In the past, the answer would be a shrug and answering either the door or the phone to a customer looking for support.
Today, the contact centre has become so much more. It’s the new window into the organisation’s soul – the window that allows for the company to see into what customers used which channels, why they are contacting the organisation, and how the company can improve engagement and resolution.
According to Tanya Phillips, chief operations officer at Pivotal Data, the evolution of technology has allowed the organisation to embrace and understand data, how to leverage it, and how to recognise its value.
“Within the data lies the why and the how of customer service,” she says. “How we add value and ensure that they remain at the heart of the organisation. Differentiation has long since moved out of the realm of ‘nice to have’ and become something that has to be embedded into the contact centre industry.”
There has been a significant shift to alternate channels and methodologies for customer contact and engagement over the past year, driven primarily by the change brought about by the global pandemic. Companies that are not openly embracing digitisation and proactively introducing chat bots and virtual assistants and instant chat channels are being rapidly left behind by those that do.
“Proactively introducing new solutions and using tools such as speech and text analytics is setting a new standard in customer care,” says Phillips. “It empowers the company and the contact centre employee to respond more effectively, to give the right answers, and have access to the right information.”
To achieve this level of seamless empowerment and customer collaboration requires investment into the cloud and the right technology and this is not plug and play.
Technology does not fit one size with all solutions – just like fashion, one size fits all is a lie. Organisations need to follow a clearly defined path to achieve the right goals and outcomes with the contact and cloud, outcomes that benefit the bottom line, not add to it.
“The world was already moving into the cloud, the pandemic just sped it up,” says Karl Reed, chief solutions officer at Pivotal Data. “It was considered very expensive, very time consuming and complicated.
“It can be, but not if the business follows six simple steps that will take it from idea to integration and deliver an immediate competitive advantage.”
The first step is to ask why, he says. Why does the company want to make this move to the cloud and what does it need to achieve its goals?
“This is an essential part of the process as it will refine who you are talking to, what channels your customers will prefer using, and the focus of your investment.
“It’s not a good idea to just jump into social media, for example,” says Reed. “As your customers demand new ways of communicating with you, and as the solutions become increasingly ubiquitous, the most important thing you need is the buy in of your stakeholders, your employees and your leadership.
“Without this, it won’t matter how beautiful the channel or deep the data, it won’t get results.”
Internal change management is the second most important step. Get the people who will use the technology from the inside to recognise its value and buy into its potential before you implement it. They will then become its biggest advocates and ensure its success.
“This aligns with the need to have a clear vision and strategy from the outset. Plot the route to cloud that best suits your people, customer and company, and then ensure that this can be done by pulling together all the right people in the right room.
“Identify who will be impacted by the change, what it means to them and the value they get from it,” says Reed. “This will help develop a crystal-clear strategy that meets realistic business expectations.
“You also need the right partner. You aren’t in the business of cloud so you need a trusted partner that is, a company that understands the market and the technology and that can help execute your strategy properly.
“We had to migrate an entire company in 24-hours at the start of the pandemic – and we did it because we have the experience.”
While 24-hours is hardly optimal, it can be done. This only underscores the value in a steadily executed strategy that works with the right partner who understands your system. And you may need multiple partners to achieve different goals – a mail migration expert for mail, and a contact centre expert for the contact centre.
“Finally, once you’ve planned and managed the execution, continuously assess the environment to ensure that the systems are working as they should,” concludes Reed. “This testing can take weeks to months but it does allow for you to iterate and adapt, to assess and monitor risk accurately, and to make sure that employees and customers appreciate the way it works. Always evolve, and always be ready to change.”
These steps may change depending on the company, the application, the level of cloud investment and the existing digital infrastructure but ultimately they are a solid set of GPS coordinates that can help your business find the perfect route to cloud.