Agility is key for contact centres in the 21st century.
With Millennial customers expecting exceptional customer service, contact centres are looking at fresh ways to keep up with demand. With a typical contact centre dealing with an abundance of legacy systems, keeping customers and agents happy through efficient effective business processes is no easy task.
What customers want
It’s no secret what customers want to see in terms of customer service. A seamless omnichannel experience is right at the top of their list of priorities. No longer do customers want to have to spend their time listening to cheesy hold music as they wait to be put through to an agent. More and more customers want to interact with businesses in their channel of choice, be it over social, chat or by email. The need to be responsive via each of these channels is becoming business critical and managers are tasked with meeting this need.
What agents want
The pain of complex legacy systems extends far beyond the IT department. An individual agent must go from screen to screen during a call to ensure they are capturing the relevant information. Agents often need to memorise complex processes, jumping from application to application to copy and paste information. Training times grow, frustration arises and mistakes become commonplace. The real victim in all of this is your customer. While your agents are struggling with legacy technology, your customers are struggling too, with long hold times, constantly having to repeat their issue and getting inconsistent answers.
Essentially what appears to be an IT problem, is, in fact, a customer experience problem. Until you can create a simplified ecosystem for your employees, you will never achieve the customer experience and customer satisfaction goals of your business. And with the emergence of new technology trends, such as social media, this problem is ever-growing.
Why rip and replace is the common solution
Human beings can be a lazy bunch. Sometimes when we can’t think of a simple solution to a problem, rather than spending time coming up with a solution or workaround we decide to completely start all over again. Don’t believe us? Picture the scenario: your kitchen is starting to look tired and dated. Do you think of ways to update and improve it, or do you rip it out to start all over again? Be honest, most of us in this position choose the second option. Of course, the end-result is an all singing all dancing new kitchen but this does come at a cost. Design and labour are extremely expensive and soon mounts up, with some of us even taking on debt in the process. Yes, there are times where starting from scratch is the best option, but sometimes you can get as good a result by simply replacing your kitchen doors or updating your whitegoods.
The same happens in the contact centre industry. Legacy applications in the contact centre can often trap businesses into rigid, inefficient business practises creating undue complexity when looking at ways to improve business processes. These processes become outdated and management teams are tasked with looking at ways to improve current systems. Sometimes there is a fear of cluttering the IT infrastructure with the addition of new applications and therefore business transformation consultants are recruited to rip and replace all the current working practises. Yes, it means businesses are more equipped to meet their customers’ demands, but it is time-consuming, costly and often doesn’t consider the elements that are working well. Typically, these are large scale, multi-year projects with even larger budgets. So naturally it poses the simple question – how do you use the assets you have today, but still transform your customer and agent experience?
Why it may be time to repurpose and renew
Contrary to the ethos of rip and replace, repurpose and renew is a fresh new way of updating your contact centre for the 21st century. This is a much faster approach and is great for organisations who want to be seen to be agile and responsive to customer demand. Rip and replace strategies, can often take longer than anticipated to implement and in some cases, can even slow organisations to a halt.
This new approach gives contact centres greater flexibility to leverage the assets that work well and provides a perfect opportunity to renew those processes most in need of updating. Think of it like you are creating the perfect ‘lego contact centre’. Keep what you like, build what you need and connect everything together in as seamless a way as possible. Linking up the best in customer support software with telephony or back-end legacy systems can truly equip a contact centre with the tools to delight both customers and staff. What’s even better is that rather than some external rip and replace consultant dictating your new processes to your staff ending in change resistance, you can work with your staff to agree on what improvements to make. This will make staff feel valued.
Finally, let’s not forget the customer in all of this. The customer journey is key, so why would you want to spend years perfecting your processes to find that you’ve taken too long, you’ve experienced churn and you’ve fallen behind the curve? The repurpose and renew approach lets you deal with your processes immediately and means you can focus on what is most important – building positive customer experiences.
Our tips to make the most of what you’ve got
- It’s all about the planning – get a small project team together to understand the processes that are working well and what needs to be improved. This will help you understand what you are looking for.
- Work with partners to help improve the sections of your business most in need of improvement for example – you have a great IVR system in place but your customer engagement via email and social media is poor. Why not speak to a multichannel software provider who can make this possible?
- Ask about niche integrations into legacy systems. Some software providers integrate into many generic applications using an API, but our tip is, don’t opt for quantity over quality. In our opinion niche integrations into legacy systems are much better for overall business efficacy. For example – you are an insurance broker using a broken solution such as Acturis or OpenGI and want the information gathered from your customer interaction to feed into your back-end broking solution. There is no point in agents spending time manually inputting this information.