Why Contact Centre Tech Purchases are Doomed from the Start

by Matt Baron 

When we work with clients, we assess the use of contact centre tech and our findings published Q4 2022 still stay true throughout 2023. Only 56% of applicable tech capability is typically utilised.  Yes, a whopping 44% of our dedicated survey respondents stated that tech investment (all your CRM, WFM, RPA and many more acronyms) is just money down the drain.

We have mastered maximising the investment in technology in a pragmatic and swift way – significantly increasing ROI – no matter what tech platform or combination is used.

After attending the September Contact Centre Summit in Manchester, our research was supported by a wider group of both tech providers and users/buyers. They agreed with our findings….so much tech capability is just not understood, often “mothballed” gathering more dust.

Why does this happen?

It’s a constant theme when talking with organisations on both sides of the supplier/buyer fence that tech purchased is not utilised anywhere near its full potential. Just a few things we’ve heard:

“I don’t know what the system can do…”

“Our tech team are not interested”

“The system is not integrated… (to core tech)”

“Tech and telephony not integrated”

“To many separate systems”

“Tech vendor/partner doesn’t understand our business”

“The CIO just turned up with new “kit” without any prior engagement, thus no real grasp of the frontline teams needs”

When needing to take your Contact Centre transformation to the next level, new tech is often seen as the solution, or at least a key part. Ensuring that the purchase, implementation and continued rollout are successful and mutually beneficial to customer and vendor are critical.

There are many points in a product’s life cycle where failure can occur and we will talk about a few. 

  • Before going out to tender
  • Tender process
  • Implementation
  • Continual rollout
  • Tech Ownership

It starts well before the RFP

Our experience has proven that if you do not assess your existing processes(re-engineering) then you may end up spending significantly more on a system build and/or licences. 

We recommend:

  • Documenting all processes to help understand what requirements exist.
  • Document  requirements accurately and classify as:

Critical (must have)

Optional (need it but not critical)

Desirable (want it)

RFP

Going out to tender is often the point when an implementation is doomed to fail. Why?

  • Initial requirements are not developed alongside the business
  • The relevant  questions aren’t asked
  • A robust business case isn’t in place

You risk ending up with a system that doesn’t give you any more than you already have and creates a complete headache for Operations and IT. Prior to going to tender, know your core requirements but be flexible enough to take advantage of the capabilities within the systems you are assessing. Lock down your core requirements before starting the process.

 Obvious high-level questions to ask include:

  • What features does the product offer?
  • What is the pricing model or pricing options?
  • What type of maintenance/support do they offer?
  • Are there any additional services offered?
  • Is there a demo version of the product available for us to test?
  • What type of training do they provide?

Non-obvious questions

  • What is the typical implementation timeline?
  • How can the new solution integrate with existing systems?
  • How does the proposed platform/solution impact the user and the customer experience?
  • Is the proposed platform/solution configurable by the business?
  • What is your solution’s typical time to value?

Getting your requirements right

When determining what features you require, it is important to consider:

  • Core tasks it will perform.
  • Specific requirements or functionality must be included.
  • Translate requirements into understandable language.
  • Use plain, clear and concise language removing the chance of ambiguous responses.
  • Who should be invited to participate in the RFP process? Vendors, stakeholders, and other relevant parties can provide valuable insight into the selection process. 

Next Stumbling Block – Implementation

Successful deployment and rollout depend on this being comprehensive. But all too often it isn’t, the reason for this is usually a very simple one. The vendor doesn’t know your business well enough. And often will implement and train to the strengths of the product, not necessarily how you would use it in a live environment. 

Before beginning the implementation these are the questions you must ask:

  • Is the test system available to use?
  • Who should be our subject matter experts?
  • Does the Vendor provide a Customer Success Manager?
  • Is Train the Trainer available?
  • Is bespoke training available?
  • Rollout roadmap?
  • Continual development?

 

Implementation is key to successful delivery and continued usage. Even the most carefully planned programs can fail due to mediocre implementation and turning plans into reality isn’t easy. 

To achieve successful implementation you need to have subject matter experts who know you systems and business process inside out and:

  • Undergone formal training and worked with the platform before anyone else.
  • They can create and carry out user test cases. 
  • It is imperative that they run standalone and concurrent user tests.
  • Test the processes work and are able to handle multiple transactions simultaneously. 

Having a prototype/test system for these experts, not only ensures the system works properly but enables hands-on learning. 

Achieving and measuring success 

  • Stick to the business case that you used to choose the platform. 
  • The business case should have identified the benefits of the new system in terms of key performance indicators. 
  • Do not replicate the current business process in the new system, you will miss the best business process improvement opportunity you will ever have. 
  • The implementation and deployment must be a collaborative approach involving all stakeholders (IT, Operations, Vendor). 
  • Have clearly defined roles and responsibilities. 

 

If IT is the product owner and is tasked with the installation, maintenance and upgrade, then they have to have a product counterpart in Operations who acts as the product sponsor. They must work together for the continuous success of the project. It is important to remember that IT knows the operations team ARE the customer.

It’s not always the purchase and implementation that causes the problems – Continual Rollout

 Many purchases and implementations go smoothly and are not the root cause of tech disillusionment. This happens when there is tech drift.

  • Tech sponsor moving on/staff turnover leading causing tech no longer being used to its full potential. 
  • Business as usual gets in the way and rollout of additional features doesn’t happen.
  • New starters are not formally trained.
  • System not used correctly causing processes to become disjointed or broken.
  • Both user and systems training is not part of BAU 
  • The configuration can become broken or messy over time.
  • No one fully understands the product and changes are made exacerbating existing problems. 

This is when the system is seen as no longer fit for purpose. But this could so easily be avoided by updated training and the use of a test system, where any new updates or changes are tried, tested and signed off before release to the users.

Presented with these types of scenarios a new Manager/Director on their arrival would decide the tech is no longer fit for purpose -out with the old and in with the new. 

Product Ownership

Contact Centre technology installed is often owned by the IT department. 

And these departments are often very far removed from the users. What does this mean? IT is not at the front-end, using the tech and experiencing reality  This often leads to a “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality! It is just another piece of internal tech to support and is therefore not given the priority it deserves and the users are only that, not customers. 

IT need to keep one step ahead:

  • Ensure releases are known about, well publicised
  • Make sure you have abridged release notes
  • Make sure you get value / time from your software partner
  • Keep training up to date with system capability 

This will ensure you get best ongoing value from your investment

  • Ensuring upgrades are discussed with key users.
  • New features investigated.
  • Upgrades put into test prior to release to test resolution of known issues in live or provide additional features to improve current processes.
  • Test upgrades don’t create more problems for users.

This testing time also provides ample time for additional training on new features/new work processes. This ensures the investment made continues to be realised.

Where are you?

If you think the latter problems have led you to believe you need to throw your existing tech out and replace it with all new. Take a deep breath and a step back and stop. Look at what you already have and ask yourself:

  • How old is it?
  • What was it brought in to solve?
  • Where is the original business case?
  • Who are the product experts?
  • Who has had the official systems and user training?

Now, ask yourself:

  • If we upgrade will it do what we want?
  • Can I get my people trained?
  • Can I get people to buy into this product again?

Then:

  • Weigh up what it will cost to get your existing system right versus buying new. 
  • Look at your existing business processes.

This investigation will show you if it is worth changing and if your processes don’t work or are broken no system will fix your problems. Leading to failure on investment in any new tech is set to fail whether it be complete systems, RPA automation or even AI.

Leveraging Avocado55’s Expertise

Avocado55 has extensive experience in helping contact centre maxmise their existing tech or source the right tech for their business. We are able to assist with all stages of the RFP process, including preparing questions, identifying vendors, setting up interviews, and negotiating contracts. Our team has expertise in both technical and business aspects. We have a deep understanding of industry trends and best practices which helps us recommend solutions that are tailored for each individual contact centre’s unique needs.

It is important to make sure any tech purchase is a good fit for your business. To ensure this, Avocado55 can provide advice on how to evaluate different products against your criteria and make an informed decision about which one is best suited for your contact centre’s needs. We also stay up to date on industry trends so that we can provide recommendations on which features and capabilities are most important when selecting the right tech or system for your business.

Working with Avocado55 brings many benefits including access to our team of experts who have years of experience in sourcing  and implementing contact centre tech. Providing that collaborative, practitioner led approach.

Get in touch with us if you’d like to find out how we can help with your business transformation.

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