The Health (and Risk) of your communications tech

Marcus Gates | 04.29.20
A medical professional reviewing a health screen

The COVID-19 virus & response caught most organizations and their disaster readiness plans off guard.  While we all fervently hope that there is no next time, hope, it is said, is not a strategy.  Now is a great time to identify risks in your remote worker/agent tools and address them before the world forces you to use them again en masse.

For those of us charged with providing our organizations with communications & collaborations tools, the ultimate goal is providing a normal experience during abnormal circumstances.

Here are three things that you can do to now to identify and address risks in your technology and processes:

Get a Checkup

Before a doctor prescribes treatments to a patient, they run tests to get a clearer picture of what’s going on with the patient first.   These tests start out simple (weight, blood pressure, pulse, standard blood panel), and become gradually more specific as the patient’s situation requires.

Similarly, to understand where you can improve your enterprise collaboration & communication delivery, start with documenting the fundamentals of your current state – network & remote connection topology, licensing & subscriptions, and your collaboration & customer contact technology environment.  Make sure to include an audit of the capabilities that your internal customers require, and your current disaster recovery processes and procedures as well.

Lastly (but perhaps most importantly), it matters who does the checkup.  You go to a doctor for your health checkup because they are a professional with the training and experience to collect the right data, draw the right conclusions, and diagnose both obvious and underlying conditions that need treatment.  The same is the case for your collaboration and customer contact environment – make sure that you enlist qualified parties with the experience and training required to deliver a great result.  Consider turning to an agnostic third party for this checkup – even if your staff has the required know-how and experience, an unbiased consultant with no agenda or history might provide a more candid picture of where things really stand.

Diagnose and correct issues

Once you’ve completed a check up, if it reveals any potential issues (note: medical checkups are diagnostic tools and generally result in additional testing requirements if they show anything irregular; you should view the checkup on your remote worker technology and processes the same way), now it is time to do some more testing, define the root cause of the problem, and create a treatment plan.

The health check may reveal a surface-level concern – poor call quality, for instance.  Now, dig deeper and really understand the issue.  How often does it happen – irregularly or repeatedly in certain conditions?  How bad is it?  What processes or systems are involved that could potentially be at fault?

Make sure to use the right diagnostic tool, or even recruit a specialist resource if needed.  General practitioners often refer patients to specialists to treat conditions, and you should do the same.  Before you try to correct a situation, make sure that you have the tools and talent to 1) confirm that is actually a problem, 2) confirm where the problem exists, and 3) actually carry out the required actions to fix it.

Collect qualitative data from your internal customers

Think everything’s ok?  Ask your user community to be certain.  Devise a qualitative process to collect data from your end users to confirm what you are seeing with your quantitative tools.  All too often, contact center agents will know about routing problems and call quality issues before network tools detect and report them.  How?  Customers are often very candid about these types of things with voice and chat agents (and most don’t stick around to complete your post-call survey either).  Similarly, your knowledge workers and those who manage them can give great feedback about how the remote work tools are performing –  if you ask them.

A couple tips about this kind of analysis:

  • Do not treat this as a check-the-box activity.  This feedback collection process should be ongoing.  Collect responses regularly to identify issues and ensure that your people are happy and productive.
  • Make sure that you know which questions to ask.  Anybody can create a survey using one of a dozen online survey apps, but if you are not asking the right questions, you won’t get useful feedback.

One last thought

For all of the above, consider engaging outside help, if for no other reason than to get an unbiased party to share the accountability of confirming what you may already believe to be true.  You could uncover an issue that you never knew existed.  Best case, if spending a little money on a health check (like this one) results in a clean bill of health, you have confirmation of the quality work you and your team are doing.  Share it with any interested parties in your organization to put their minds at ease and garner a little credit in the meantime.

Marcus GatesMarcus Gates VP of Sales for Axim Global, an IT consultancy that uses our expertise in enterprise consulting, software development, and strategic staffing to help clients solve their biggest challenges.

Through our expertise in Enterprise Consulting, Strategic Staffing, and Custom Software Development, Axim’s experienced team of enterprise technology architects and consultants work with some of the largest organizations in the world.  We thoroughly audit their current collaboration & customer contact technologies and cloud applications, help them pick the right options for their specific requirements, and identify opportunities for reduction of cost via carefully planned and executed enterprise-level standardization.  Learn more at https://www.aximglobal.com.

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