2 Key Pillars of Your Contact Center Digital Transformation Strategy
Digital transformation is a central technology theme for all businesses in 2022, and it’s especially important for contact centers. Expectations around customer experience (CX) are increasingly being shaped by digital technologies, and customers have generally been adopting them faster than contact centers. This is a leading reason why there’s a growing gap between the service that customers expect and what contact centers are able to deliver. As such, digital transformation has become a top priority for contact centers.
At a high level, contact center leaders can see the rationale here, but executing on the vision requires a clear plan. They are under enough everyday pressure as it is, so there will be limited cycles for big picture thinking or making sweeping changes.
Moving forward, will be difficult if these changes are viewed as being risky, disruptive or complex. What’s needed is a digital transformation strategy that both mitigates risk and addresses real pain points. To help formulate that plan, here are two pillars that contact centers can build more extensively around.
Pillar #1: Include Existing Infrastructure in your Digital Transformation Strategy
Investments in premise-based infrastructure might be seen as an inhibitor as moving away from this would be disruptive for operations and risky if the cloud is viewed as being unfamiliar or unproven for contact center purposes. There is a grain of truth to all of this. A survey from Aberdeen Research (via EDUCAUSE) found that 53% of respondents haven’t shifted to cloud technology because they are concerned about not having full control of their data.
Though there might be concerns, contact center leaders also know they can no longer meet customer needs with the status quo. Not only do agents lack the digital channels needed for today’s CX, but analog technology has limited integration capability, resulting in duplicated efforts and disjointed interactions with customers.
The key here is to not think of your digital transformation strategy as an all-or-nothing proposition. Contact centers do not have to wait until full end of life to replace their infrastructure and go straight from prem to cloud, or from analog to digital. That time could be years away, and changes need to be made now to address a growing CX gap.
Furthermore, digital and cloud-based solutions are in the market today – there is no need to wait for the cloud to mature or watch for early adopters to validate the technology. There is more risk in waiting for the right time to pursue digital transformation – there is no right time – than in moving ahead now to start deploying.
Digital transformation is an ongoing process that will take years to complete, especially with older contact center systems. Making the bridge to digital CX requires adding digital elements that integrate with legacy systems and applications. This approach provides the best of both worlds, allowing contact center leaders to continue using what they know and trust, and through gradual migration, they can begin their digital transformation with minimal risk.
Pillar #2: Adopt a Common Framework for all CX Communication Channels
One of the hallmarks of digital technology is openness, which allows systems and applications to interoperate at a high level. Not only does this bring operational efficiency and more streamlined customer service, but it fosters much-needed innovation so contact centers can keep pace as CX evolves.
This stands in stark contrast to the world of legacy technology that many contact centers are still tied to. By nature, these systems are built on closed, proprietary technologies that perform very well in isolation, but have limited interoperability with other contact center elements or vendors.
This is the root cause of many challenges that contact centers struggle with, namely standalone elements that are more an assembly of silos than a holistic system built around customer service. In this regard, a key pillar of your digital transformation strategy should be providing a common framework across which all systems and applications flow. Digital technology – and Internet Protocol (IP) – provides the lingua franca for all of this to follow, and that’s what makes high-level interoperability possible.
With digital transformation, contact centers can have both existing channels – telephony, email, fax – and newer digital channels – web chat, messaging, SMS, video, social media – all in the same system. This common framework is very different from how many contact centers currently operate, where some agents only do voice, others only do email, and CRM handles digital channels. These silos don’t integrate well, and don’t reflect the way customers want to engage today.
Finding the right technology partner here is key, and you should be looking at their ability to help you adopt a common framework. This will allow your agents to have seamless integration across channels, so they can interact with whatever channels the customer prefers. You can’t do that operating in silos, and as new digital channels emerge, you’ll need a framework to add them without skipping a beat. Aside from how this provides a strong rationale for digital transformation, it’s also the kind of thinking that contact center leaders need to deliver great CX each and every time.