How your customers feel after any given interaction determines whether they will remain loyal. For this reason, a great customer experience (CX) is your best marketing and growth strategy. Optimizing and modernizing your contact center through focused digital transformation is key to achieving this.
With competitors battling over customer loyalty, digital transformation has topped strategic agendas as a key priority for years. So why are we still talking about it? Well, most industries seem to recognize the need to transform, and some have even begun to implement changes, but the results are another story altogether. With less than 30% of companies undergoing successful transformation, the missing step seems to be recognizing the barriers to transformation and knowing how to overcome them.
In this blog post, we unpack the four most common barriers to contact center transformation and what organizations can do to overcome them.
4 Common Barriers to Contact Center Transformation
There are no silver bullets when it comes to digital transformation. This is because digital transformation is not simply a one-off technology project – it’s an ongoing journey.
Transformation undertaken as a one-time project – without a solid change-management, business and CX strategy in place – risks underperformance and poor return on investment (ROI). All too often, organizations learn this the hard way.
By understanding the barriers to transformation, you’ll be much better positioned to overcome them. From working with contact centers across various industries, we typically identify these four common transformation hurdles:
1. The Cost of Transformation
Many contact centers have already invested in transformation initiatives only to see limited return on their investment. Disappointing results can occur for many reasons – for example, misalignment on what needs to be automated, or automating a process that was not ready or suited for automation.
Disappointment in previous transformational projects – related to high cost, long time to value, or low impact – can derail progressive transformation discussions from moving forward. This is understandable: The investment associated with deploying new technology or establishing an ecosystem of partners isn’t exactly an incentive, especially when the gains are unclear.
While there’s always a certain degree of risk involved with new initiatives, companies can reduce this by starting small and scaling where success is evident. In a contact center environment, this could mean leveraging automation to address a particular call driver, and then only scaling when success has been proven.
Testing, assessing, and scaling is key to achieving operational excellence and to minimizing risk. This Agile mindset will help you stay the course on the journey and lessen the impact of initial experiments that don’t yield the desired results. If you want to read more about the best practices for achieving all-around contact center efficiency, download our Contact Center of the Future eBook here.
2. Underestimating the Importance of Change Management
Research by Mckinsey found that transformation success rates can often be linked to the size of a company: The bigger an organization, the more difficult it is to transform. Naturally, for larger enterprises, the change is bigger, more complicated, and involves more people, which means misalignment can quickly become an issue. This is why large-scale operational change needs clear ownership and strategy.
The result of poor change management is an organization unprepared and unequipped for change. Effective change management involves risk analysis and focused communication plans that align people, technology, and processes throughout the entire program.
Contact centers have set processes and ways of working. While these may be efficient in isolation, they can end up being stubborn roadblocks in the adoption of a wider change.
Approaching transformation armed with a clear plan, communicating the reasons for change, assessing organizational readiness, and articulating the impact of change will set leaders on the right path.
In this video, Richard Mitchell, Chief Technology at SYKES Digital Services, elaborates further on the transformation barriers, evident in contact centers, and how they can overcome them.
3. Traditional Contact Center Operations Models
Most large organizations are designed to operate in distinct departments. From an inside perspective, this often makes sense. Divisions can be helpful in defining clear accountability and ownership. Besides, work done in isolation – with minimal collaboration across different departments and teams – can even accelerate execution. These gains, however, can come at the price of creating an optimal customer experience.
When departments operate in silos, customers quickly get lost in between. Isolated thinking can prevent companies from thinking holistically about the best customer experience, as processes are analysed and addressed in fragmented fashion. It’s crucial to think about the wider journey, and remember that your customers don’t experience departments, teams, or customer channels – they experience your brand as one entity.
When it comes to CX, processes that touch the customer often span more than one department or team, so it’s only natural that internal collaboration and alignment would be the solution enabling CX excellence.
Contact centers who think beyond internal divisions – keeping the focus on what customers need – have a much higher chance of embarking on a successful, impactful transformation journey.
4. Tools and Technology Having the Opposite Desired Effect
This barrier has two facets: (1) The number of disparate agent systems, and (2) the need to harness the power of end-to-end analytics.
Disparate agent systems that fail to communicate
On average, agents use over 7 different applications when solving a single given challenge. Navigating between these is often time-consuming and difficult, adding unnecessary complexity to the task at hand. Bridging the gap between these systems and tools is essential to improving operational efficiency and improving the customer-agent experience.
While it might be tempting to adopt shiny new technologies to help address agent productivity (for example), another disparate tool is unlikely to deliver profound impact. In fact, it could further complicate things. Instead, connecting – and streamlining – your existing applications are much more likely to deliver value.
Technologies like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can be highly effective in bridging the gap between your contact center applications. RPA helps gather necessary information from any given system, to provide a ‘single pane of glass’ outlook to the agent. This makes it easier for agents to help on-call customers, rapidly complete post-call tasks and increase operational efficiency overall.
Harnessing the power of data
There’s almost nothing more valuable than data when it comes to optimization. Rich digital exhaust and your contact centers’ ability to capture and act on customer insights is what should guide your CX optimization efforts.
However, while analytical and monitoring tools are becoming common in contact centers, end-to-end analytics is often still needed to articulate and understand real-time customer behavior and actively predict their next steps. Data analysis and proper data management are key capabilities facilitating successful transformation and ensuring you correctly interpret and leverage data.
Enabling your contact center to deliver great CX is your best strategy to driving healthy growth and customer loyalty.
If you’re ready to take the next step in your transformation journey and being future-proofing your contact center, download the full eBook.