As we observe contact handling in centers of all sizes, shapes and locations, we hear the frustration with all the disconnected and manual tasks – during the contact or wrap-up, and when work flows from the center to other parts of the organization. Few have made progress integrating desktop applications, automating processes, or tracking work as it leaves the center.
Process change is hard. IT is busy implementing and maintaining systems and applications, leaving little time to optimize. Ideas for changes go onto wish lists or await a “future” initiative. Too often companies deploy technology with little or no plan for process change, forcing operations to “make it work” as best they can.
Because process-intensive labor constitutes the vast majority of contact costs (67-76% according to our models), we can agree that process optimization is a good thing. But why does it deserve heightened attention now? With new tools available, process redesign can be less demanding on resources than in the past. You can target the low hanging fruit and get some early wins without completely dismantling your current environment.
Our approach to technology-enabled process optimization starts with a hard look at what’s already in place. There’s a good chance that it’s underutilized. In a Contact Center Pipeline article entitled Process Optimization Comes to Fruition, Lori Bocklund and I share a number of examples from our work with clients. We also took note of the rise in cloud-based services that facilitate rapid application implementation and integration in the face of persistent time constraints in IT.
Your next step is to envision your future. Defining your end-state is crucial to your process optimization initiative, and the knowledge of what technology can do for you fuels that vision. You have to assess your organization’s readiness for process change and the amount of change you can bear. Then create a vision of the technology that will enable your path to the end state. The vision can include new things or using what you have in better ways.
Process optimization is really all about defining where you are today, where you need to be, and what will it take to get there. That last step leads to the plan, including what technology changes you will execute. But successful process change efforts focus on creating business value and measurable results – not just implementing new technology or checking items off a project plan.
Even though the time is right, process change is challenging. You should approach the initiative with an eye to best practices starting with a clear definition of the scope of the project. Involve a cross-functional team that can ensure an enterprise view, understand the full magnitude of the change that you are planning, assess the organization’s ability to handle the change, and focus the effort by aligning the initiative with your business goals and drivers.