by Bill Pieper
| Dec 20, 2018
Modernization is a clear trend in the contact center world. But, as we all know, adding new technology starts with a thorough search, careful selection and effective implementation of the chosen technology. Having served many clients over the years who were starting from the same place, we’ve put together some of the basic decisions and considerations you will face as you embark on this journey.
To lay the groundwork for a data driven decision, you must identify the business and technology requirements. Don’t skip this step – make sure it’s comprehensive to ensure you are making the best technology choice. Even though you may already have an incumbent provider, keep an open mind – the technology landscape is evolving rapidly and you may find a better fit for new services requirements. Don’t rule out getting help as you prepare the requirements or craft the RFI/RFP – sometimes an outside view brings new insights into improving operations or allows you to leverage learnings about what has worked for other ‘like’ companies.
Decide on a deployment model
With the business and technology requirements identified, consider which one of four technology deployment models work best from a delivery, maintenance and financial perspective.
On-Premise: The technology is physically located on-site.
Hosted: The core system components are managed in a vendor data center.
Cloud: The technology is managed and operated in the technology provider’s hosting sites and no core equipment is placed at the contact center.
Hybrid: Typically, a mix of on-premise and cloud or on-premise and hosted.
Your IT and business requirements will influence the effort and resources required for implementation as well as on-going maintenance when the solution is in production.
Five Critical Actions for vetting new technology
Look beyond the line item features of a technology – this will be a future ‘partner’ after all.
Investigate innovation speed & agility to market
While most technology companies talk about innovation, you should explore how many of these ideas become reality. If the tech company is launching new products and features with a regular cadence or with a unique value proposition, it’s a good indication that they are thinking about keeping you and your customers on the leading edge.
- Ask service providers about their product roadmap for the next 12-18 months. Are there capabilities you desire that are not currently available but have a firm timeline on their technology roadmap? How confident are they about delivering on the product roadmap? How seamless have past releases been to the clients?
This information combined with the customer feedback should enable you to get a clearer picture of the provider’s ability to deliver on commitments and support your requirements as your business evolves.
Get information from the ‘front lines’
It’s always worth asking for customer references, i.e. clients that are currently using their products and services. Request access to references who represent both tenured and new clients. The takeaways and learnings that you glean from this information will help you make a data-driven decision about which technology vendor to select that best fits your contact center needs. If you’re able to talk to references directly, ask each one a structured set of questions so that you can compare their experiences and determine the right solution for your individual needs.
- Ask new customers about initial expectations that were set during the sales process versus actual experience as the technology was implemented and deployed – did they deliver what they promised? If not, why? What happened?
- Ask tenured customers about their experiences with support, system reliability and ease of administration of the system. Were they introduced to enhanced new products or features and able to use the full functionality promised with the system to enhance the associate and customer experience? Were their application systems seamlessly integrated into the new technology? Were additions to the original contract required? Was the system scalable without major investment? Were they able to address problem in a timely manner?
Examine the ecosystem
Most contact center technology providers have an ecosystem, or network of partners they work closely with to make integration with their platform simpler using out-of-the-box applications. Ecosystems are established, pre-built integrations with other technologies that simplify the implementation process and enhance functionality and performance of the technology to improve agent and customer experience. It’s worth noting that not every technology for a customer will have pre-built integrations from the vendor, so it will be important to understand the effort and costs for any custom development – that’s all part of the conversation and negotiation. Partnering with a vendor that has a strong ecosystem and reputation for delivering will reduce your costs and complexities for integration and implementation as well as offer you increased flexibility, agility, and accelerate time to full operation.
Explore scope of integration capabilities & offerings
Strong integration between the new technology and your contact center systems is critical to optimizing use of multiple technologies. A good understanding of what integrations can be easily completed (agent screen pops, IVR lookups and self-service, call disposition, data exchange, for example) is important in selecting the right technology. This means reviewing your existing contact center technology to understand how it will work with your new technology. The more alignment you have between the various technologies, the more you will be able to take advantage of the enhanced functionality available.
Consider company health and profitability
Examine the performance of the provider. Are they doing well financially? Have they had any financial challenges? What are their growth goals and vision for the future? How about expanding their talent and workforce and investment in research and development? These are good indicators of whether their growth is aligned with projected business performance. Paying attention to these details means that you’ll gain a solid understanding of how they are investing in the future for their business and that of their clients. If they’re performing well, they should have enough capital for growth – resulting in an expanded product base and features that could benefit you greatly in the future.
Adopting new technology platforms – and making sound, data driven decisions – is a process. But to reach excellence in contact center operations, we know that technology is only one piece of the puzzle. As always, EPIC is here to help you regardless of where you are on your technology or operational path.