Imagine a modern world where the only option for customer service, short of walking into a store or business, is to call an overly clogged voice line. It’s a pretty bleak picture, isn’t it? I often wonder what the state of the contact center world would be if businesses lacked the courage to digitally transform their organization, and the thought is always a scary one.
Any significant change to your business is scary, whether it’s bringing in brand new service providers for your technology or overhauling your entire outdated legacy contact center platform. It’s hard to tell the obstacles that might lie around the corner. The road may be challenging, but the process is necessary and doable with the right tools, technology, and consultative support. Just think of it as swapping out old, boring clothes for a bright costume that lets you transform into whatever you want to be.
Here’s the current reality within the contact center industry:
Deloitte reported that 85% of CEOs of businesses accelerated digital transformation in the past year. It’s in a contact center leader’s best interest to instigate large-scale digital transformation initiatives as soon as possible, with a particular focus on omnichannel implementation to upscale interaction volume and overall profitability. But traversing a strange road to your final destination can be the scariest part of the process. In the eBook Change Management Blueprint for Contact Center Digital Transformation, we outline the five main steps of successful transformation:
But where there are best practices such as these, there are always pitfalls that can trip up your digital transformation journey; in fact, according to McKinsey 70% of transformation initiatives fail to reach their prospected goals. It’s time to face your fears and start on the road to successful digital innovation by learning how to avoid the most lethal contact center pitfalls.
Pitfall Monster #1: Failure to consider how implementing omnichannel impacts agents and processes
What it complicates: Prepare for change
Change is difficult, to some degree, for everyone involved. Digital transformation has a unique effect on every aspect of the business, but perhaps more so than you’d think on the people and process you have in place. Take the agents, for example.
Thanks to digital transformation, contact center agent roles and responsibilities are in flux just as much as technology and process are. Many simple interactions (i.e. price inquiries, checking a bill or return status, etc.) are automated and handled through digital and self-service channels like chatbots and optimized customer knowledge. Self-service means agent-assisted channels are reserved for more complex interactions, which require leveraging interpersonal and soft skills such as empathy, friendliness, and critical thinking throughout each interaction.
In addition to this, agents are expected to be able to handle multiple concurrent interactions─voice calls, chat, email─which increases their cognitive load and can cause personal stress and performance degradation. Contact center leaders can take steps to mitigate the effects of digital channel overload.
For more information on how to handle this, check out John O’Hara’s article Why Digital May be Stressing Your Agents Out.
Agents also need tools and technology that complement intuition and interpersonal skills for harder-to-solve customer issues. Real-time interaction guidance empowers them with the answers they need exactly when they need them. Performance management aligns agents’ efficiency with contact center goals, and quality management analytics delivers detailed, actionable insight into each interaction.
When transforming CX, your agents need soft-skill training and tools and technology to keep them informed. To equip agents with the skills they need to work through your digital transformation initiative, check out our New Agent Training Tips for Today’s Digital World.
Pitfall Monster #2: Not securing contact center leadership buy-in
What it complicates: Build coalition and establish partnerships
You can’t expect large changes and shifts in contact center operations without key leadership support from the start of the initiative. How can your ship expect to sail smoothly when the captain has a different destination in mind? An alignment of vision and strategy should align from the top of the organization with senior leadership down through each stakeholder involved. Making the case for digital transformation includes proving quantitative business benefits are the reward for the effort and investment.
Contact center leaders want to move forward with innovative strategies to keep up with customer expectations. The key to a successful bid to upgrade your contact center platform is to secure that top-tier leadership support from the outset and to actively involve them throughout the process.
Once leadership has rallied to the cause, digital transformation initiatives will roll out more smoothly. In the words of Joe Ucuzoglu, CEO of Deloitte U.S., “Key to achieving [CEO] growth goals will be an intense focus on sustaining the momentum of their digital transformations, as well as optimizing new workplace models to attract and retain a world-class workforce. All things tech and talent will dominate the CEO agenda throughout 2021 and beyond.”
Pitfall Monster #3: Lack of unified data and technology, and a hodgepodge assembly of tools
What it complicates: Align technology to transformation goals
In the interest of cost, some contact center leaders may opt to merely “fix” the legacy system’s technology rather than replace it. That’s like applying a Band-Aid to hold together a crack in a concrete wall. Eventually, the whole thing will come tumbling down and will have been more costly than implementing an advanced omnichannel system.
Approach digital transformation with the full scope of the technological requirements in mind. An omnichannel platform can accommodate a cloud-native customer base, strong self-service options, digital channels and entry points, streamlined tools and desktops, and clear journey orchestration for seamless elevation through channels.
One way to align your technology with digital transformation goals is through a unified desktop interface, which enables agents to handle multiple channels and interactions at once. This also preserves context across multiple customer interactions, regardless of how many or which channels they cross. This reduces the need for customers to repeat themselves and speeds up and simplifies transactions significantly.
According to Microsoft, AI algorithms will back a projected 95% of customer interactions by 2025. Digital transformation facilitates the implementation of artificial intelligence-powered tools such as analytics, a streamlined workforce management system, real-time agent guidance, and predictive analytics. With a unified approach to your technology, you can expect expedited interactions and optimum efficiency through every touchpoint of the customer journey.
Pitfall Monster #4: Losing sight of customer needs throughout the digital transformation process
What it complicates: Establish and implement change plans
Even if you have a goal or plan in place to implement omnichannel solutions in your contact center and are on track to achieving digital transformation, try not to get sidetracked by the technical demands of the process. It’s more important to never lose sight of what keeps your business running and profitable: customer needs and expectations. Namely, how they prefer to interact with your contact center.
According to our CX Transformation Benchmark survey, 84% of customers prefer to do business with companies that offer self-service channels. However, only 61% of customers believe that companies offer convenient self-service. So, there’s a good margin for improvement to work within. Successful omnichannel implementation begins with acknowledging a customer's need for specific channels, whether it’s communicated as a need by the customer or not.
Using interaction analytics can help detect the demand for certain channels and identify any points of friction those channels might be causing once implemented. A preferred channel is not always the most efficient channel to resolve a customer issue; agents can intuit and direct customers to the best channel to service their interaction when needed. AI routing can help streamline this process by analyzing customer data to decide the best agent or channel to route them to.
When you keep customer needs and expectations at the forefront of your digital transformation strategy, you’ll be able to manage and implement change plans much more effectively.
Pitfall Monster #5: Ignoring the fact that customer experience impacts the entire business
What it complicates: Measure and improve
Customer experience is the bedrock of your business’s success and in turn, the contact center is the hub where that experience is nurtured and turned into customer loyalty. CX is a linchpin to your success. Failure to keep the customer at the heart of your operations is like walking directly into a yawning pitfall that you may not get out of. From the top tiers of management to the fulfillment of transactions and services, customer experience affects more than just your bottom line.
The State of Commerce Experience reported in a 2021 study that 79% of buyers would change suppliers/retailers if they had a poor experience. They also reported that 86% of consumers expect a seamless experience across all devices and channels.
So how do you know where experience breaks down, and what’s causing friction during the customer journey? We’ve got some tips for you:
- Customer feedback and surveys: Get answers straight from the source through surveys that directly comment on customer service and experience.
- Interaction analytics: Gain more detailed insights on customer transactions by analyzing emotion in speech, voice, and text interactions.
- AI-powered routing: Data-driven routing connects customers to the most compatible agent or channel for their particular needs.
Once you have quantifiable data on how well omnichannel solutions work for your company, act on the information you’ve gathered. Digital transformation is never truly complete without considering not only technology, but the agents, customers, systems, and processes that interact with it. A comprehensive, cohesive system is the one that delivers the best customer experience.
To become an expert in all things omnichannel and to arm yourself with the tools and knowledge you need to successfully enhance business operations, check out the ContactBabel Inner Circle Guide to Omnichannel.
Are you out of the scary woods? Avoid the pitfalls and achieve your digital transformation
It’s not hard to prove that the advantages of digital transformation outweigh the risks. The real challenge for many contact center leaders often lies in the execution of that transformation and skirting roadblocks during the process. However, if you consider the possible pitfalls from the initiative’s inception, you’ll maintain a clear vision of the well-oiled, digital-first machine your contact center can, and will, be.
If you need help escaping the monsters lurking in plain sight that want to spend your digital transformation strategy and change management, the eBook Change management blueprint for contact center digital transformation can make the process easier. It’s even easier when you work with NICE CXone, which offers Business Transformation Consulting services to help navigate the transition.
 Forbes insights: The Experience Equation: How Happy Employees and Customers Accelerate Growth (2020)
 Forbes insights: The Experience Equation: How Happy Employees and Customers Accelerate Growth (2020)
 NICE CXone: CX Transformation Benchmark Survey of Global Business (2020)