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Considering New Contact Center Technology? Read This First!

At a recent conference, I spoke with many vendors who claim their technology will solve all my problems and brew my morning coffee. Ok, so none of the technology would brew coffee, but I was certainly swooning over several new tools. Indeed, there are some innovative technologies out there, but it’s easy to become enamored with the things that are bright, shiny, and new, with little regard for the reality of execution. I left the conference thinking about the internal and external impact of implementing new technology. What problems will the technology solve? What new problems will it introduce? How will the new technology impact our customers? Do our customers even care?

Before investing in new technology, consider this pragmatic approach.

Are you clear on the problem the new technology will solve?

Sure, artificial intelligence, analytics, and omnichannel are all the rage right now. These may be what you want to add to your contact center, but they may not be what you need right now. 

If you do not already have a sense of your contact center’s “opportunities”, dig into your data. Without a clearly defined problem, you will not have a strong solution. Adding new technology to an ambiguous situation causes chaos and could lead to a failed implementation. Identify the biggest problem area in your contact center and look for technology that will help you overcome it. Maybe you want technology to help with case deflection, improve handle time, or help deliver better proactive support. No matter what it is, define the problem first then find a technology to solve it.

Can your needs be met with your current technology?

Be honest with yourself. You may want the shiny new thing, but you may be best served by enhancing something you already own. A good steward of business resources will ensure current tools are fully optimized before looking for something new. Getting the most out of your current technology may mean getting more users on the system, using more of the features, or adding an app to boost productivity, among other things. There are many ways to get more out of your technology, and not all of them require a significant investment.

Are your processes solid?

Processes should be firmly in place and well-documented before adding a new tool. Technology will not fix a poor process. Adding new technology on top of a weak process will confuse your employees and your customers – and likely result in an even bigger mess. Technology should aide in the process; it should not BE the process. Therefore, you should identify and correct process pain points first, gain employee buy-in second, and then consider adding technology.

Are you prepared with a change management plan?

Implementation involves much more than configuration and training – these are just the first hurdles. The real challenge lies in the adoption of the new tool, a piece of the process that many vendors and customers tend to overlook. Implementing new software is more than “if you build it, they will come”. To improve your adoption success, you must have a strong change management plan in place, and be prepared to communicate about it frequently and consistently.

What are the non-financial costs associated with implementing new technology?

Before committing to a new technology, ensure you have adequate resources available to drive a successful implementation, including the change management piece. The vendor’s sales rep will tell you it’s easy and promise post-implementation bliss, but there is often much more involved with achieving this. Don’t bite off more than you can chew by piling on top of an already packed workload. This is a recipe for disaster.

There may be other non-financial costs to consider as well, depending on the technology. For example, a brand-new ticketing system could involve a potentially tricky data migration. Or, perhaps the new technology integrates with other tools your company uses and could supercharge productivity for all teams involved. Completing these tasks often requires cross-functional cooperation, so these teams need to be on board with your plans too. No matter what it is, take the effort involved and other non-financial costs into account when planning for the implementation.

As you think about technology upgrades, avoid the allure of the shiny and new and instead take a pragmatic approach. Be sure you know what problems the technology should solve, ensure you have gotten the most out of tools you already have, and develop a solid plan for implementation and change management.