1Stream’s Bruce von Maltitz and Jed Hewson.
According to a recent KPMG analysis, growth and technology are two of the biggest challenges affecting the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) with 70% finding that technology has the biggest impact on their roles. They are expected to research ingenuity and invest in innovation so the business can embark on a richly rewarded journey over the sea of success. Organisational growth also sits at the top of the priority tree as the CFO ensures that strategy is focused and deliverables measurable. And they are to do all this within an economy that redefines what it means to be mercurial and the stony grip of recession.
Investment into a contact centre can be pivotal for growth and singlehandedly ticks the box of strategic technology investment. It is the ‘you have arrived’ of the corporate GPS. However, it needs to be done in line with the budget and it must work seamlessly with systems and people. To get it right, there are five steps to integration success.
The first is cloud. It’s the ultimate ‘try before you buy’ that doesn’t anticipate investment into heavy hardware just to get a taste of its potential. The ability to truly assess the capabilities of a system before spending plenty of money on it is something that wasn’t possible in the past, but allows for enormous freedom of investment and opportunity today.
“If you wanted to introduce chat into your call centre you would have to go and buy all the kit, put it in and then, if it didn’t deliver business value it was too late – you’d spent the money anyway,” says Bruce von Maltitz, Director of 1Stream.
To ensure that investment into the call centre fits within corporate requirement before it is wedged into corporate budget, the CFO should consider trying it out before buying it. Technology is on a relentless innovation cycle so it is essential to ensure that it works with legacy systems and expectations.
“Another step is to ensure that the company used is one that has a proven track record,” says Jed Hewson, Director of 1Stream. “There are plenty of providers pushing all types of technology, so go and see it in a live environment and confirm that it will deliver. Don’t just look at the brochure and sign the deal.”
Thirdly, ensure that the cost savings of the investment are real. You may need to reallocate a portion of your staffing budget (which usually makes up 70% of your overall contact centre expenses) to your technology budget (which is normally only 7% of the overall costs) to give your contact centre a 10% saving through a rise in productivity or reduction in staff.
“You should be looking to bring in systems that make the call centre more efficient rather than trying to constantly save money,” says Bruce. “It is worth spending on the technology if it helps to make the people more efficient as they take up most of your operational costs.”
The fourth consideration is to be careful when weaving new technologies through the business. Look to systems that allow for add-on functionalities that can be integrated fully. If you tack on different functions, such as email or telephony, and these are not comprehensively integrated, then the reporting and the consolidation of data has to be done separately. Next thing, you have to hire someone who spends their time trying to add one solution’s report to another. Make sure you understand the knock-on consequences of adding new technologies into the call centre.
“Finally, beware of the homegrown IT guru that haunts every business hallway,” concludes Jed. “They can put your contact centre together and do it cheaply, but the challenge is that you can end up running out of the features and functionality you need, just when you really need them. Then either the industry or the guru move on, and suddenly nobody knows how it works or why it suddenly stopped working.”
Call centre technology is a critical business function and therefore needs the same care of investment and quality as any other core functions. Instead of leaping for cheap, focus on cloud solutions that allow you to try before you buy and implement the one that’s ideally suited to the dynamic nature of your organisation. It may sound complex, but thanks to the ubiquity of technology, it is far simpler to find the perfect call centre platform right now that it was just now.
By Bruce von Maltitz and Jed Hewson from 1Stream’s
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