Contact Center Innovation: If You’re Good Enough, Why Change?

How do you drive contact center innovations and implement change? The answer is – not easily.

Contact centers are set in their ways. They have a process and procedure that is dictated and, for the most part, they follow it. And even though most of it is done manually – and often times with mediocre ability – it gets done. It’s good enough.

One of the biggest barriers to change is being happy with “good enough.” The thinking is, “If you’re good enough, why change?” Another problem with change is that most companies don’t know what they don’t know.

It’s kind-of like teaching a good high jumper how to pole vault. It’s still a bar and you still jump, but it requires a totally different skill set.

Most contact centers simply don’t want to rock the boat. They are going along fine, making money, and don’t want to risk stopping everything to learn something new. They are afraid of change and how it will impact their daily operations.

So, when change is needed, senior management has to make sure that everyone affected clearly understands their role and what success means.

The Process of Change

If change requires a new technology, for example, then a vendor selection process has to be defined. This typically starts with a requirements document that answers the question, “What is it that you want to fix?”

Then, a Request for Information (RFI) is sent to prospective vendors to determine who is qualified to offer a proposal for the solution. A set of vendors is then selected based on qualifications and a Request for Proposal (RFP) is sent to determine capabilities, pricing, speed of implementation, qualification, expertise, etc.

A process is then defined on how to select the vendor and implement the solution. Typically, a matrix is developed with requirements down the left side and capabilities across the top by vendor.

Site visits and reference checks are also part of due diligence to make sure vendors can deliver on their promises. This includes talking to some of their customers.

Price is usually the last thing considered because it is always negotiable. Typically, the decision comes down to three vendors, and then negotiation of price becomes a factor.

The key is making sure you have the right vendor, with the right product, who can implement it professionally and efficiently – and one with the ability to support it once it has been implemented and installed.

Pain of Staying the Same

As the adage says, “No one changes until the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of the change.” But the truth is, contact centers must change if they want to be competitive.

Consider this: early contact centers didn’t even have ACDs. Then, once they became comfortable with ACDs, the world changed with the Internet. Today, you have innovations like Voice over IP and ACD functionality in the cloud.

In this environment, if you are still running a call center with an old ACD, it’s like being a manufacturer of buggy whips.

Similarly, if you are still training your agents in the front of a room with PowerPoint slides, you are way behind. With the advancements of adult learning theory, we now know that adults don’t learn best in this way. Instead, learning has to be interactive, fun, and often electronic to be most effective.

Contact center innovation and change is absolutely critical if you want to remain competitive. And though it typically comes from the top down, change is only successful from the bottom up.

In my next post, I’ll talk about how to determine the ROI of a product and how to manage change in the contact center…

About the author

Bob Fletcher

Bob leads the sales and solution delivery initiatives for Intradiem’s global business process outsourcing (BPO) clients, helping to transform their business models and drive profitability via Intraday Automation. He brings a wealth of operations, management and consulting acumen to the BPO practice, having delivered guidance to more than 1,000 call centers and trained over 5,000 managers and supervisors worldwide. Bob's experience includes executive management of Arvato's customer service operations and as executive vice president for Deutsche Telekom. Bob has also served in critical management roles in engagements with leading companies such as T-Mobile, Verizon, Pitney Bowes, TeleDenmark, Gateway of Dublin, DecisionOne, Delta Dental, Wells Fargo and Cox Communications.

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