CCaaS (Contact Centre as a Service) AI, CX, Omnichannel, Unified Reporting, Automation, Analytics, Deflection, digital transformation…. The list of desirable jargon in the industry rumbles on in the minds of those chasing the ultimate transformation of their ‘Customer Experience’ and is echoed in board rooms throughout the world when leaders are pursuing answers to ‘fix’ broken customer journeys.
Technology can all too often be assumed as the silver bullet to fix cost-saving issues, poor service & resolution experience. Having built a successful career around the deployment of such technology it may seem ludicrous for me to say this is not the answer, but it is not. Technology is critical however it is the enabler only.
Let me expand. There can be no doubt that Contact Centre Technology has evolved and dramatically enhanced business capability to achieve a volume of and quality of customer contact management previously unattainable through non-integrated and traditional solutions however with the right skilled and experienced specialists in place to drive the objectives forward there is much more opportunity to be gained through a back to basics approach than simply investing thousands if not millions in contact centre technology as some kind of band-aid.
As an example I had a discussion with a Senior acquaintance recently who said they ‘desperately need AI in their business‘ – I asked them ‘why?’, they replied ‘to improve the customer experience‘. I asked them ‘what are you going to do when you get it ?’ they replied ‘no idea but we need it to be competitive‘ – a sales person’s dream but heading on a course of failure for the business.
Transformational ‘technology‘ programmes in an operational and customer facing environment often extend far longer than they should, cost much more than they ought to, fail in preventable places and leave leadership, employees and customers feeling somewhat conned by the result if the basics are not right and the company investing in the technology does not really (and I mean really) know why they are buying it!
So, how do we get to the answer?
How do we delight our employees and customers? What do we mean by back to basics? The key to solving a business’s CX and operational efficiency issues lies within.
1. Identify your Pain Points, internally and externally. Through a combination of measures across your existing processes, people, product performance, customer feedback & technology. Try and associate the impact of these pain points to time and ££ lost to address issues or complete processes and grade these pain points in priority to fix. Your frontline employees & customers will be critical in contributing to this exercise – they know feel and deal with the pain points every day.
2. Baseline your data against what you want to achieve based on the priority profile of pain points – meaningful KPIs, effort measures and service standards – review benchmarks, ideally competitors, do you want to meet industry standards or stretch to best in class? What do these standards mean – are they applicable to your business or meaningless to you and your customer?
3. Analyse your transactions. All of them. Not just volumes but the purpose of transactions – internally and externally. Do you need them all? Are internal transactions serving an internal purpose only but causing delay or frustration to the customer (do they contribute to the pain points already identified either for the customer or the employee? If so, are they necessary?). ‘We’ve always done it this way ‘is not a justification for keeping a process or transaction. Challenge the Status Quo. The likelihood is if you have not done this before you will be astounded by your emerging transaction profile, but this will in turn give you compelling data to enable investment in the right areas.
4. Once you have identified points 1-3 align, add to or use your emerging story to input directly to the company strategic direction for the next 3 years. This means the organisation must use your insight and analysis to help define its value proposition and its customer experience strategy and engage the entire organisation in a collective mission to succeed. This is critical. Without this collaboration, leadership & engagement true transformation is not possible, and you are at risk of adding more problems into the mix with bolt-on solutions which eventually will not fit either. It is critical that every member of the board understands the situation and the opportunities which exist to be able to dramatically change your company’s game through investment in the inevitable change of operating model, processes and technology. Yes, the ‘ask‘ will almost certainly be for investment in technology however contact centre technology must first and foremost enable a single view of the customer’s contact experience with your organisation, sometimes it is very difficult even to get to this mandatory CRM goal due to complexities of retiring legacy systems and consolidating and eliminating data & processes but it needs to be the core foundation of the transformation before any bells and whistles are added
Contact Centre Technology as an enabler
During the course of my career, I’ve been asked by clients and colleagues alike whether the promises of ‘ROI’ and true transformation of CX that are (rightly) pitched by contact centre technology salespeople and partners are really possible – you know what – I believe these ‘technology win’ targets absolutely are possible and beyond but only if the business actually knows what they want and need for themselves before writing lengthy RFPs or engaging technology vendors in detailed design or solutioning which is at high risk of missing the point entirely.
In essence, if points 1-4 are followed with all of the organisation engaged and aware, followed through with and followed up on post-deployment in an effective customer success partnership, if the business is serious about CX transformation & invests in qualified experts to manage its technology truly can do anything you want it to….
If your organisation really knows what they want it to do!