New technologies are not passive — to get good results, they must be implemented with foresight and good planning. Effective leadership requires a multifaceted approach, and a few important recommendations come to mind:
- Keep your eyes on the prize. The purpose of any new technology should be to support the governing principles and mission of your organization. Keep it simple — don’t over-complicate applications to the point that they are ineffective or unmanageable. When complexity begins to throw things off course, go back to the basics. Stay focused on what really matters.
- Remember that new capabilities both depend on and dramatically affect training, policies, planning, budgeting, other systems and many other issues. Those who take a systemic approach to planning and implementing systems, and who put adequate thought into process- and people-related issues earn the highest returns on technology investments.
- Recognize that just about any technology can be viewed as the proverbial double-edged sword. For example, quality monitoring capabilities can be great sources of stress for agents. Or they can be used to identify improvement opportunities and coach agents to higher levels of performance. Similarly, collaboration and reporting tools that give colleagues across the organization access to contact center information may bring unwanted attention. Or they may be a boon to the interest level and support the contact center receives. Ensuring that others have an understanding of technologies and how they will be used is key.
- It’s essential to develop a sound customer access strategy and use it to guide decisions. As you view technology possibilities though the lens of your customer access strategy, some key questions will likely surface, such as … Which technologies best support your plans and direction? How will processes need to change? What impact will the technology have on agent requirements, both in staffing numbers and skills required? What impact will it have on your cost structure — expenses and revenues? How will overall service be improved? How technologies are implemented, supported and used is as important as the capabilities of the technologies themselves. The answers to these and related questions will help you make wise investments, and ensure that technology is being led by your mission and direction — not the other way around.
- If you want it, you’ll need to show the return on investment. Contact center leaders have the responsibility to evaluate how technology can add value to the organization and build that into their business case. What impact will new capabilities have on customers, employees, or business units? What are the benefits, and returns on those benefits?
- Inaction is the worst action you can take. Given the pace of change, it’s important to begin planning your contact center’s migration into the next era now.