Without a doubt, customer experience (CX) is now not only the main competitive differentiator, but also the key to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty levels, higher revenues and a better return on investment.
And a key component of delivering outstanding customer experience is the technology. The results of a survey of 702 companies by Forrester and Accenture, revealed that the high CX performers achieved much better results than those who had not invested in technology to improve customer experience.
However, determining exactly which solution and configuration will best suit your needs now and in the future, can be a daunting exercise. You want to make sure that it has the functionality and features you need, is easy to use, won’t be superseded in a couple of years, and is affordable.
In this Part 1 of Upgrading Your Contact Centre Technology, we explore the planning stage, and provide a checklist of things to review and assess before embarking on the purchase process.
1. Review your business requirements
You know the old saying – you can’t see the wood for the trees? When you’ve worked with the same systems and processes for a while, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that the current processes and procedures are your business requirements. Maybe some of them were originally developed to overcome shortcomings with then-current technology, or to serve needs that are now redundant. Upgrading your technology is the perfect opportunity for a ‘spring clean’ and to implement a better way of doing things.
This is also the perfect time to revisit corporate objectives and KPIs, and determine if your current operations are aligned and achievable.
2. Remove silos
Consultation with relevant stakeholders outside the Contact Centre will ensure that the needs of Marketing, Sales, HR, IT, Finance and perhaps Retail and Logistics business units are considered. Not only does this aid with better processes and integration, it’s a great way of promoting and cementing the vital role that the Contact Centre plays within your organisation.
3. Consult with customers
Your perception of your service is unlikely to match your customers’ opinion, and in the end, it is the customer that counts.
The best customer experience that your customers have ever had (which may have been with a company in another industry sector all together), will become their desire, and ultimately their expectation for every business they deal with.
Conduct meaningful surveys where you give your customers the opportunity to provide candid feedback, not just tick boxes to rate their satisfaction level. Share the results with all stakeholders so that the feedback is given full consideration during process/procedure redevelopment, and technology solution assessment phases.
For example, one of the key findings in Microsoft’s 2017 State Of Global Customer Service Report was that 79% of people under 34 (and 68% over 34) responded YES to this question: Do you have a more favourable view of brands that offer a mobile-responsive customer service support portal?
Considering that nearly every Australian has a smart phone and spends around 3 hours a day on it, it would make perfect sense for Australian Contact Centres to provide a mobile customer experience. The reality is, very few do.
4. See what others are up to
Successful implementation of new technology requires buy-in from all stakeholders, particularly from the people who will be using it most – your agents.
Consider involving some of your Contact Centre team members in the planning stage, by giving them a project. Create a list of companies that your customers reported having a great experience with (see above), and perhaps a list of other companies within your industry and in others, and devise a small market research program together.
The aim is to see what’s going on in other contact centres, and discover for yourselves what you could be doing better, from the customer’s point of view. As a team you could devise a checklist where they map and rate their experience across the journey, and note down their perceptions of experiences that were great, and not so great at every step.
5. Prioritise needs and specifications
Once you’ve completed steps 1-4 it’s time to create review your objectives and make two lists.
- The first list is “Must Have” processes and technology features that you will need as a minimum to meet KPIs.
- The second list is the “Nice to Have if the Budget Allows” list.
Together, these will form the basis of your specification.
We recommend including details of your objectives and desired outcomes, along with both lists, in the specification document that you prepare for technology vendors.
This will help them to understand your most important goals, and prepare a solution recommendation that will best meet your needs.
A good vendor will listen to what you want, provide guidance on what you do and don’t need, and not try to sell you everything they offer.
In the next article – Part 2 – we look at technology features, how to gauge whether you really need them, cost assessment and critical questions to ask vendors.