Published: July 17, 2013 | Comments
Clients are expecting increasing amounts of innovation from their service center partners. At Ubiquity, we believe this is a natural and positive evolution of the outsourcing relationship, from the simple sourcing of partners to perform static processes to the culmination of complex business relationships allowing service providers to share their vast expertise and deep connection with customers.
We believe the best service providers will treat the achievement of simple call center metrics like service level as table stakes. At Ubiquity, we spend the majority of our working time with our clients discussing strategic alignment and business objectives (i.e. growing revenue per customer, addressing the customer lifecycle, achieving growth metrics) and very specifically how we can support (i.e. market tests, analytics) and actualize them through our operations.
So, what is innovation? People often think of service center innovation in terms of building complex systems, processes or software to better address a business opportunity. While it’s true that these often-complex systems help to innovate the service center, we have a slightly different view of how to deliver innovation. Far too often, we’ve seen deployments that result in frustration, errors and sometimes increased handle time for a process.
Our goal is to design solutions that are extremely easy to understand, very intuitive and as integrated as possible. So at the heart of every decision we make when working on engineering new systems, processes or software is a simple set of questions:
- Is this solution easy to understand?
- Will this solution simplify and/or improve the working environment for the users?
- Is the solution completely integrated into every possible system, database and process?
We’ve found that a huge amount of confusion is caused by a lack of simplicity and integration, and we seek to actively overcome these challenges in the design and execution phases. We’ve also worked to create a standard ‘design language’ for all of our solutions, meaning that users are able to intuitively understand new processes and systems with minimal instruction.
Beyond the institutional advantages, we believe that there are experiential advantages for our agents to creating these clean, simple solutions. False complexity often creates environments where unnecessary specialists are created, often causing a frustrating work environment for many. We seek to democratize the service center operating environment.
Although innovation can sometimes be a happy coincidence, to ensure routine and lasting success, innovation must become part of a company’s culture. We’ve found that one of the enabling factors to this is to break down all barriers between the operations, technology, and solutions design groups. Every time a business opportunity is identified, these groups must come together and jointly discuss solutions. Frequently, these discussions need to actively involve the end users – often the agents intended to be the end users of the solution.
Naturally, it’s easier to bring together teams when they are all in the same location. However, like most companies operating in our space, our teams work from around the world. While it takes discipline and commitment to being inclusive when operating in this type of environment, we’ve found that not only is it possible, it enables greater success. By being inclusive, we bring together the feedback of team members working in multiple locations, often with different ideas and viewpoints. We believe that our vast diversity is one of our greatest assets, and we work hard to leverage it to it’s fullest potential.
We also believe that data is an essential part of delivering innovation. We built our operations around the idea that convergence is key – our ability to link together every piece of data about a call and customer is essential to our mission to meet business objectives and build better customer experiences. This converged data has allowed us to support many of our design decisions by data when looking to develop processes and systems. And, in many cases, it has changed our thinking and helped us to achieve clarity when looking at complex problems.
There’s no magic switch that suddenly makes an individual or team innovative. We’ve found that it takes commitment, perseverance and skill. There are a number of guiding principles that we believe are useful in building innovative working environments:
- Genuinely connect with agents and listen to their feedback. They often have the best ideas (if only in need of simplification)
- Spend some time every week committed to discussing and working on innovation with all of the relevant groups. It’s easy to get bogged down in operational details and miss the bigger picture
- Find ways to be inclusive. Many organizations are global and leveraging diversity is one of the best sources of different thinking around business opportunities