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Choosing and implementing CX software when you inherit a stack

So, you have taken over management of an existing contact center and you are tasked with implementing new CX software. This presents you with a huge opportunity to determine the direction of technology, process, and workflow in the contact center for years to come. The only catch, there is already an existing technology stack in the organization. How do you proceed?

Identifying what you have

What does the current tech stack look like? Most contact centers have a few major components that may or may not interact with each other:

CX software: (ticketing system, CRM, ERP, etc). This is the primary application used by your agents to track customers and may also be exposed to your customers so they can log and track issues. What is your current system and why are they replacing it? CX software is also frequently integrated with other platforms within your organization.  These can be Order Management Systems (OMS), Workforce Management Systems, Knowledge Management and Data Warehouses.  Understanding these integration points will be key to the CX project.

Telephony system: (ACD, PBX, VoIP). Most, but not all contact centers still provide some type of phone support.  Integration between the Telephony and CX systems are usually one of the first contact center integrations.

Workforce management: (WFM)  This system takes data from your CX application, and your telephony and other systems then calculates the forecasted demand on your contact center in Full Time Equivalent (FTE) resources The WFM system then helps you build schedules to maximize coverage and identify holes in coverage that need to be filled.

Knowledge Management: This system stores all your intellectual information about your product, steps for troubleshooting, how to’s, concepts, glossaries, etc, Having your knowledge content in a central location is key to fast and efficient issue resolution. Knowledge management tools can be either internal, external, or a combination of both. What system do you use and is it helpful?

Customer Facing Applications:. These are the systems that customers use to troubleshoot their own issues (self-service), log enhancement requests, and get in touch with you if they have a problem. .What are your customer-facing applications and how are they being used?

Reporting and metrics: Effectively managing your contact center requires extensive reporting.  Measuring both individual agent performance as well as your teams as a whole is key to identifying challenges and implementing effective improvements.  Other departments in your organization will also rely heavily on data from your contact center.  Key data around the customer experience, buying habits, and product quality all come from data collected by the contact centerHow does the contact center generate its reports? Either directly through the native applications listed above, or do they all feed a central data warehouse and a third-party reporting tool? If it is the latter, integration between your new CX software and your data warehouse will need to be part of the project.

Understanding your current tech stack and how it is used/not used, is critical to selecting the best new CX software for your contact center.

Identifying the Gaps

Once you understand what you have in your existing tech stack, the next step is to  understand the current gaps in both process and technology. 

Process Gaps are those in your policies and workflow. Frequently, poor contact center performance is mis-identified as technology issues, when in reality is due to poorly constructed workflow. Cumbersome approval requirements, and overly complex ticket routing workflow can create frustration for your staff and a poor customer experience. 

Spending significant time and money to replace your CX software, only to replicate your current workflow is likely to result in a disappointing implementation that misses its success criteria. The key to any successful CX project is to fully map out existing workflow and policies and eliminate roadblocks.

Technology Gaps are those where the existing technology truly has limitations that cannot be easily overcome through either existing product configuration or workflow redesign.  Often these gaps are related to reporting and metrics limitations or challenges with third-party integrations. Sometimes it is merely that the system is not capable of keeping pace with an ever-increasing level of organizational complexity.

Understanding Your Resources

The overwhelming reason most technology projects fail is due to a lack of resource commitment. Understanding the level of effort and where the resources are going to come from is key to any technology implementation.

Some key decisions to make involve:

  • Whether or not internal IT/Dev resources are going to be part of the project.
  • If internal resources are limited, is money in the budget to hire outside help either as supplemental staffing or to turn the entire project over to a partner.
  • What is your company culture around new technology? Does it like to play on the leading edge, or is stability of paramount importance? 
  • Do you have the culture and training resources to easily migrate your employees to a new CX platform, or do you anticipate this will be a painful, arduous process?
  • Is your company’s preference to build or buy new technology? This will have a major influence on both your CX platform decision and any integration goals you have.

What is your budget?

The technology selection and the scope and pace of the project will be determined by budget constraints. It is important to understand where those limitations fall as it may even impact the decision to move forward or not. If the scope of the project is going to be so limited as to not fulfill enough of the functionality and/or integration requirements, it may not be worth doing anything at all. Make sure you have answers to these questions before you start:

  • Do you have advance budget approval for the project? 
  • Do those holding the purse strings understand the full scope and cost of the project? 
  • Are the funds and resources available to complete the project in its entirety, or are you looking at a phased approach?

Summary

Having a comprehensive understanding of your current CX landscape, its strengths and weaknesses, your organization's culture and preference for technology as well as your resources both human and financial to execute the project are all keys to a successful CX implementation.

Proper planning and scoping of your current and future needs as well as an honest assessment of your company’s ability to successfully execute a large-scale project such as a CX platform will ensure a smooth transition to a platform that will serve the needs of you and your customers for years to come.

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