Best Practice Number One: Start Your Self-Service Transformation Project with the Right Approach

You’ve invested a significant amount of time and energy to hire highly skilled contact center agents, and you’ve invested a lot of money in the call center software they use to handle calls/inquiries, so what is missing? Why aren’t you seeing the results you’d like in the customer experience space? If your efforts aren’t optimally performing, it may be time to jumpstart a self-service transformation project in your contact center.

Call center software collects, stores, and manages vast amounts of fundamental data to measure things like average handle time, number of calls, agent engagement, and other key-performance indicators. However, a majority of companies focus their attention on redundant, space-taking data, and continue to miss what is important: analyzing customer touchpoints and call types. Data associated with call types can help companies not only measure customer satisfaction, but also improve experiences and build a loyal customer base. It has the potential to provide insight into how conversations are progressing and to pinpoint the common threads. For instance, you might notice many callers are asking to reschedule or make a return, which does not require a human to perform high level critical thinking. In order to complete this task, there is likely a list of steps to follow that could be bogging down agents, consuming a lot of their time and preventing them from handling the ones that do require critical thinking. Armed with data about this high volume, low value call type, you would be able to consider automating it in order to save time and resources.

Think about it this way. The majority of contact centers have some sort of interactive voice response (IVR) platform in place that typically only serves to route calls. But many lack the advanced automation that can handle the complex, process-driven tasks such as the order return example. With customer service such an integral part of an organization’s success, many companies are beginning to recognize the value of implementing advanced self-service technology in the contact center. Fortunately, as long as the rules of engagement and execution are standard, self-service implementation promises to not only improve agent efficiency, but also improve operations for customers by meeting their service expectations in their preferred channel.

However, many fear that the cost to implement this kind of self-service may outweigh the long-term benefit. Very often, chief executives have to build a business case that justifies moving an IVR project above the line on the IT budget list simply because it is not seen as a priority to the organization. With this said, the key here is to tie your IVR project to a strategic initiative in the organization, which will help bump this project above the line. At this point, your self-service project becomes a mandate, which makes it a top priority in the organization.

You can then start looking into a number of processes to decide which to automate next, using the data we discussed above to figure out which ones are prime for automation. Of course, this is easier said than done.

The good news is that your approach ought to mimic that of a journey, not a race, to a destination. Take a steady pace and make continuous improvements in the call center. This way, you are picking and fixing one problem at a time. If the IVR platform you have today works fine, then evolve your platform using advanced self-service technology that works in conjunction with your existing system.

Take the time to reflect on whether or not your organization is ready for advanced self-service implementation. But make sure to understand that you do not have to rip and replace what you already have. You can move iteratively, process by process, and recognize return on investment steadily as you go. The best way to begin is to leverage the right kind of data to figure out what processes should be automated and leverage your call center software accordingly.