Executives regularly ask contact center and IT leaders to explore (or pursue) technologies that could benefit their organizations. Here are the ideas that we hear on countless projects.
Everybody thinks if only they had a bot, it would deflect loads of calls, chats, or text messages and solve many of the center’s problems. Numerous vendors offer them, and many include options to leverage Amazon Lex, Google Dialogflow, or their own tools.
Your path to a bot starts with understanding the pieces of the puzzle and how they fit with your environment and the application opportunities you see – i.e., which channel(s), which applications, what data the bot needs to access, who will manage and optimize the technology, and so forth. When you identify a promising opportunity, explore bot options from existing vendor partners and see if you can do a pilot for a simple application on one channel. Configure the bot to default to human assistance when needed – with integration that passes any information already gathered. Then learn and expand from there!
All Things Artificial Intelligence
While bots may be the most famous form of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the appetite for AI runs much deeper. Since it is so hyped, you may find that you need to cast a wider net on potential applications. If that is your charter, start with a broad survey of the possibilities, including:
- Routing of both inbound and outbound contacts based on data about the customer, the current state, and what drives results
- Workforce planning and scheduling that can do deeper analysis of patterns and predictively define how best to match staff to workloads
- Smart desktop tools such as “next best actions” and intelligent knowledge tools that can serve up and optimize information
- Analytics to provide more insight than ever before and help you identify the next great change to make
With your AI wish list in hand, you can then pursue specific solutions to help your center get smarter and run more efficiently and effectively.
The New Omnichannel: Digital First
“Omnichannel” is finally hitting its stride. It seems nearly every customer contact website offers chat sessions, and many companies provide two-way texting. My advice is to embrace digital channels without compromising voice. First and foremost, that means working toward implementing truly integrated routing and reporting solutions. No more silos! If your voice and digital channels reside on different platforms. strengthen the integration between them to enable shared agent support (with proper training) and performance management (QM, WFM, etc.) across channels.
Data and Analytics
We’re seeing a surge in centers making more use of customer data alongside contact data. Interested executives may focus on personalization, upselling and cross-selling, or increasing lifetime value. And they may ask what insights you have into what is working and what isn’t, and what changes need to be made as a result.
With that charter, the theme of integration emerges yet again. We aren’t talking about dumping data into Excel, performing manual (and error-prone) manipulations, and spitting out reports. We’re setting our sights on powerful analytics tools – i.e., Power BI, Tableau – that tap data from many sources, make connections, surface trends, support deep dives, and drive out insights that can enable achievement of lofty goals. Then, it’s up to the contact center to turn insights into action, whether it be routing changes, use of bots and AI, more cross-training to the right channels, or putting more information into agents’ hands quickly and automatically.
Low Code/No Code
Executives expect to get advanced capabilities from today’s solutions without growing IT. They may be right. However, you need to identify the resources who will learn these new tools and do the configuring, analyzing, and optimizing. You may be able to leverage internal staff (e.g., business analysts), managed services from the vendor, or some combination of the two. But don’t move forward under the assumption that you’ll figure it out later or that someone will do it in his or her spare time. You also need to recognize that IT won’t be fully off the hook. Keep them in the loop and engaged for when and where they are needed.
When Opportunity Knocks
The next time your leadership pings you on your messaging platform or has an agenda item for your one-on-one that makes you think, “Oh no, here’s another one of those ideas…”, consider it opportunity knocking. You get to dive in and learn, explore and lead. Not every idea will pan out, but some may prove transformational. Regardless, you’ll be a wiser and better contact center leader as a result!