Change is hard, but it doesn’t have to be painful to be effective – particularly if your organization is prepared for it.
People tend to resist change reflexively based upon previous experiences. When faced with opportunities to make positive change, the status quo often prevails because of difficulties convincing all involved parties that the prize at the end of the change is worth the pain (particularly when the prize and pain are never evenly distributed). Making matters worse, every organization has their own cautionary examples of technology projects that wasted time and money without ever accomplishing the intended goals. The combination of these factors means that avoiding the possibility of discomfort has cost every organization a chance to make make improvements in their customers’ experience or their own operational efficiency.
Maintaining a competitive advantage in the face of marketplace innovation and evolving customer demands means that organizations must embrace some level of change, particularly with their customer contact technology. They do not, however, have to embrace the pain.
Organizations need to spend the time reducing the potential for painful technology projects by creating Operational Flexibility – proactively insulating their operations and processes from time and pain that historically accompanies technology changes. Operational Flexibility positions organizations to say “yes!” to opportunities for positive change while saying a firm “no thanks” to subjecting their internal and external customers to discomfort as a required part of the process.
Here are three ways any organization can increase its Operational Flexibility, specific to customer contact technology:
- Convert to subscription licensing models for legacy manufacturers. Ten years ago, the standard transaction method for Customer Contact technology included perpetual licenses and annual maintenance. Many of the longstanding contact center technology manufacturers (e.g., Avaya, Cisco, Genesys) now enable customers to consume nearly their entire portfolios via subscription licensing models or enterprise license agreements. Migrating away from perpetual license & maintenance to subscription means converting to a financial model used by every modern solution (cloud-based and otherwise), thereby taking a step out of a future change process proactively.
- Normalize reporting on your terms. The data that a contact center generates is critical to many different groups – both those responsible for the operation of the contact centers themselves and others such as sales, marketing, finance, and company executives, who depend upon this data in some way. One the most consistently painful aspects to any contact center migration is adjusting internal reports to work with a new solution’s reporting platform. Instead of having to retrain internal customers on a new reporting system and go through lengthy, expensive reporting re-writes, build a central reporting model that includes the dashboards & reports your business requires. Built correctly, this normalization platform can ingest data from a host of disparate sources, and then map the data back to a dashboard or report structure that gives the business the data it needs to operate. This means organizations can change the data source as often needed without requiring any change to line of business and contact center KPI reports, thereby eliminating a significant (and expensive) barrier to future change.
- Understand, optimize, and document your contact flows. One difficult part of making changes to core call center technology is replicating current contact flows on a new platform. Contact flows (AKA call flows) are the path customer inquiries take from the point where they enter the organization to the point where they resolve. In today’s world these have transformed from simple call flows to multi-modal, multi-party transactions which usually include some degree of inefficiency (depending upon the technology decisions that have taken place since they were originally constructed and any previous optimization efforts). Historically, documenting contact flows required ongoing manual effort by someone with specific expertise, and resulted in Visio diagrams that need to be updated every time an organization makes a change. Today, there are tools and services to extract call flows and consultants who can represent them in a variety of ways. Having these in hand when considering a change in customer contact technology means shorter implementation timelines and significantly reduced impact to your customers.