Because of shrinking budgets and limited in-house expertise, enterprises are increasingly investing in hosted contact center services to reduce capital outlay and access a wide range of technologies. Understanding how to make incremental changes in contact center operations to optimize customer care and control long-term costs without disrupting service delivery is the key determinant to success for implementing a hosted contact center. By doing so, enterprises are in a better position to build a high-performance customer service strategy that leads to long-term success.
1). Start with a clean slate
Enterprises should start with a clean slate and think “outside the box” when it comes to extending the capabilities of the hosted contact center to their business practices. They should not replicate any business processes that were dictated by the technology constraints of legacy equipment. The architecture and approach in deploying a hosted solution is significantly different from a premises-based solution, and in order to take advantage of the benefits of a hosted model, enterprises must change their way of thinking.
2). Understand your resources
Before making the switch to a hosted solution, contact centers must conduct a full assessment of their technology assets and human resources, including agents, managers, and technology staff. In so doing, enterprises will be able to:
- decide which technologies to keep in-house;
- provide new performance and cost metrics to executives;
- account for changes in performance; and
- dedicate knowledgeable staff.
3). Link front- and back-office functions
Linking the contact center with other parts of the organization provides strategic value. The contact center should be aligned with the back office that provides order fulfillment, product information, accounting, supply chain, and logistics. Collaboration and federation of data between the contact center and back office is critical to improve operational efficiency—and, in turn, the customer experience. Enterprises should:
- apply innovative contact center processes to the back-office; and
- leverage session initiation protocol and unified communications.
4). Understand security implications
Many enterprises fear losing control over data, security, and equipment management. Hosting providers address these concerns through a variety of measures:
- Payment Card Industry certification and compliance;
- hybrid managed services;
- service-level agreements and clear disaster-recovery plans;
- Web-based administration and tools; and
- role-based login capabilities.
5). Think about staffing more flexibly
Hosted technology enables contact centers to change their staffing model, as it’s easier to provide technology to distributed agents. This essentially virtualizes a contact center, with assets in different physical locations but functioning as a fully integrated, seamless operation. By using virtual contact centers as an adjunct to existing in-house and outsourced operations, enterprises can eliminate facilities costs, reduce overhead, access new agent talent, and lower agent churn. Factors to consider include:
- staffing according to changing call volumes and scalability; and
- training and specialist skills.
6). Look into new products
Enterprises should be aware of new products and features that will improve business results and help innovate and create a competitive edge. The advantage of hosted contact centers is that enterprises can exploit new features and functions without the associated risks of upgrades and rollouts. Recent innovations include:
- proactive communications; and
- analytics that provide greater insight.
7). Focus more on the customer and less on the infrastructure
An often-overlooked benefit of a hosted contact center is resource reallocation. By outsourcing, staff that previously spent time managing infrastructure can now spend time focusing on projects that drive greater value to the business, such as customer service innovations.
8). Monitor your business more frequently
Even with a hosted provider, enterprises should frequently monitor agent performance and customer satisfaction themselves. Enterprises need to understand that:
- customer satisfaction must remain a top priority; and
- monitoring and business performance analysis should constantly evolve.
9). Plan well to make future possibilities a reality
Enterprises need to build a tactical and strategic roadmap to achieve short- and long-term goals for contact center operations. It is important that enterprises embed hosted solutions into this overall planning process to achieve the right degree of flexibility to support customer service needs. Agility is what will help enterprises react positively to any changes driven by the customer, or fix broken processes and infrastructure.
10). Utilize the hosting provider’s experience
When choosing a hosting provider, it is critical that enterprises consider not only the provider’s knowledge of contact center technology but also areas such as agent performance and specific vertical processes. A strategic partnership with the hosting provider and the provider’s participation in the planning process will help enterprises determine goals and integrate with existing infrastructure.
Daniel Hong is lead analyst of customer interaction at Ovum. These best practices are part of a white paper commissioned by Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories and Teleperformance.