Just as soon as technology changes, customer expectations change, too. So before purchasing new CX tech, you must run a contact center assessment to see if that technology will truly meet your goals.
There was a time when a simple phone tree was a best practice for IVR. Now customers communicate with natural language and predictive intent. Or they engage in a whole new channel, like text messaging.
By taking a step back and running a contact center assessment to look at your entire technology environment, you can discern the next steps to take as you upgrade old solutions and migrate through new ideas and interesting changes in customer experience technology.
So how do you run a contact center assessment? How do you assess your current CX tech stack? And how do you decide what CX tech will have the greatest impact on customer and agent experience? Here are a few tips we’ve learned over a few decades of running customer experience assessments.
This article is part of the Inside CX series from Intrado, through which we’re creating a detailed, focused and actionable library of CX content. Use this player to hear another version of this content designed for podcasts and subscribe to future episodes.
1. Avoid a CX Tech Mess in the First Place
For anyone looking to downsize their stack of CX tech, this point may seem unfair. Everything is clearer in hindsight, but going forward, you can make better purchasing decisions to avoid finding yourself in the same situation.
The field of customer technology has grown a lot in recent years. And it continues to expand through different channels, devices and different ways that people want to instrument change. But instead of constantly adopting the latest and greatest technology, stakeholders need to consider how each piece will impact their business.
Before adopting any solution, take a holistic look at all the different items that will be affected on the backend. Also consider your agent experience and your customer experience. You could implement a shiny new solution and actually negatively impact your customer experience overall if it creates more complexity.
2. Take a Technical Deep Dive into Your Systems
This is the first step in our contact center assessment process. Before adopting any new technology, you must fully understand your current architecture, infrastructure and how everything operates together, which requires a technical assessment.
So what do your PCs look like? What does the network infrastructure look like? What does your telephony architecture look like? How are contact centers dispersed? Do you have a breakout of brick-and-mortar agents vs. remote agents? Are agents using hard phones or softphones? All these different physical aspects of the environment must be taken into account.
Consider this a technology audit. And like a financial audit, you may need professional assistance to make sure nothing is missed. The last thing you want to do is delete a piece of unneeded software and cause an unexpected disruption in your contact center.
3. Do a Business Overview
After auditing your technology, it’s time to complete a business assessment. Interview business owners, IT, supervisors and agents. See if they’re trying to solve your core business objectives. But more importantly, listen to what they have to say. If they’re trying to meet other objectives or achieve other goals, find out why.
That’s especially true when it comes to interviewing your agents. Agents are really the front line into your business. If a customer has a poor experience in your IVR, they’ll let the agent know. Agents may not always record those interactions, but during our round table discussions, agents often provide insights like, “the IVR isn’t addressing the right issues at the start of the call.”
This insightful information can be used to redesign your customer interactions, but you don’t always get it through standard reporting from an IVR or messaging channels.
4. Redefine Your Business Objectives
Take action based on what you learned from the business assessment. With your newfound information, work with key stakeholders — like business owners — to set new customer experience metrics.
Keep in mind, every customer views their data differently, and everyone has their own communication preferences. So prioritize objectives that are important to your internal stakeholders first, as long as those objectives meet customer needs. Then start finding ways to meet disparate, less common customer preferences down the road.
By redefining and reprioritizing your business objectives during this assessment process, you discover what solutions truly meet your needs. But as importantly, you also discover which solutions do not meet your needs. You don’t want to spend money to adopt a solution that has no chance of meeting important metrics.
5. Seek Feedback on Proposed Solutions
Now you can begin looking at solutions offered by various providers. First, consider whether a solution will actually meet your business objectives. Next, complete a type of user assessment and see if your key stakeholders are open to the proposed solution.
For example, don’t assume managers and agents using an on-premise contact center have already decided to move to the cloud. If agents have interfaced with hard phones for years, they may feel heartburn moving to a softphone.
Even your technical environment can be stressed. Is the solution going to cause too much burden on your desktops? While the benefits of cloud contact center solutions likely outweigh the problems for most businesses, you still need to ease into these conversations. Ask how you can help someone during this process. Do they need additional training? Or are they simply not open to the idea?
When it comes to CX tech, the customer experience isn’t the only thing that matters. It’s about what’s happening in the contact center environment, as well, and the employee experience. By considering what you learned from the first two steps of the assessment, you show that you’re trying to find solutions that work for all users, inside and outside your organization.
6. Try Before Buying
After finding your top-choice solution, a trustworthy provider will let you test it out before making a final purchase. At Intrado, we call this a “Wizard of Oz” test.
Through this process, we mock what the experience would look like with the new solution. We run it by some of the agents and end users to see how they interact with it and ensure your team follows the path to adopt the right CX tech.
This test may not be the fully baked solution, but it’s well on our way to what our vision for their CX experience would look like. Without building the full solution, the finished product becomes visible. And the setup allows the team to make changes rapidly so you end up delivering the right design the first time.
A mock is an important final step before you put time, energy and resources into actually coding the solution.
Getting Help from Contact Center Assessment Experts
When designing a new solution, Intrado always offers this full process. We start with a generally one-to-three-day contact center assessment process where we come on site to talk with key stakeholders in your business.
We bring human factors experts who specialize in digital interactions and customer experience. They complete all the IVR design, SMS messaging flows and other solution features. These experts sit down with agents and gather the most relevant information from round table discussions.
After that, our IT and technical teams talk to your IT teams. By bringing in multiple assessors with diverse employment backgrounds, we collect a variety of viewpoints to find that holistic perspective of your business. Then we’ll return a second time to run a “Wizard of Oz” test and mock the new solution.
But no matter what CX tech you decide to adopt, the biggest takeaway is to look at your environment and your business objectives as a whole. Don’t just shoot for that shiny object. It may look great at first glance. But without a formal contact center assessment, it may have detrimental effects on your customer experience.