It’s 2016. Already. If you haven’t modernized your customer engagement technology in 2015—you’re another year later and further behind the curve.
Today’s best companies use today’s best technologies to transform their contact centers into drivers of quality customer experiences. Your competitors may be among them. You should be too.
But there’s risk when you update or enhance your technology, isn’t there? And risk holds many companies back. The risk of disruption. Of unforeseen issues. Of global adoption. That risk is always present, always nagging, always creating an environment of analysis paralysis—waiting until everything is perfect before making a change.
I’ll take on that risk later. But first, there’s another, greater, risk to talk about. And it’s one that continues to grow as time passes. Today, the contact center is in a state of rapid transformation. You may already sense the perfect storm that’s building. New platforms—especially those in the cloud—slash the cost of buying and maintaining center technology. The advanced systems and applications that run on those platforms simply can’t execute on older, weaker infrastructures. I mean things like location- and skills-based routing, processing-intensive analytics, and most importantly the intelligent automation that allows for high-satisfaction personalized customer self service. New applications allow for smarter business processes—in areas of workforce management, proactive customer engagement, job gamification, multi-modal interactions and more. These create more efficient representatives and center management. And of course there are the channels—and omnichannel. Call centers are being integrated into every type of channel structure: sometimes as the hub of those structures.
All of that is happening right now, and all of it spells core competitive advantage for the companies that adopt new technologies, and that maintain and keep them fresh over time. The alternative is to stay with aging technology, and end up being left in the dust of the customer experience your competitors provide. Nobody wants to be the last call center to make customers “Press 1 to reach Sales” to someone who just abandoned a shopping cart.
That’s the risk of doing nothing.
It’s time for contact center management everywhere to talk about this—in fact, it should be one of your major conversations for 2016. Whether it’s the more common evolutionary upgrade—a component or two at a time—or the need for a wholesale rip and replace, the time is now. That conversation shouldn’t be about whether you need to do this (that’s a given), but rather about how you’ll do it. How you’ll plan, manage and monitor the four phases of the process: assessing your situation, choosing a vendor, implementing the system, and keeping it fresh long into the future. (I should mention, USAN publishes guides to help you with all of this.)
Which leads me back to the first risk I talked about: the risk of disruption and interruption of your business. Gaining control of those four phases is the Big Mitigator of that risk. It’s not simple, but the burden shouldn’t be on you. It’s your vendor’s feet in the fire—it’s their excellence, experience and best practice knowledge that determine success or fiasco. And that’s a whole other set of questions you have to ask, focusing on the quality of the company itself.
Because this may be your first customer experience evolution.
But it better not be your vendor’s.
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