In my last blog post, I laid out the idea that contact center outsourcing comes down to 3 broad things: People, Processes, and Priority. In that blog post, I talked about the first of those three Ps, People.
In this blog post, we hit Processes from a 50,000-foot view.
- The second P is Processes. Processes are simply the things your contact center does each day to provide the best experience for your customers. Processes will vary from client to client and industry to industry. For example, the processes for a health insurance client getting ready for open enrollment are different than an auto-finance client’s processes. However, what is universal about processes is that how you go about what actually occurs in the day-to-day for that client is absolutely paramount to the overall success of the project. Although contact center is much more complicated than most think and although contact center is very hard to pull off, the general principles are easy to list and understand. The process goes when your customers call in, send a question via chat, or text, or have an interaction on social media, or whatever the case may be, the contact center agent seeks to handle the issue as fast, as accurately, and as empathetic as possible. That’s the general premise of the process. This is a group effort between vendor and client and truly the best time in this blog post for the use of the word “partnership”. I have found there are 3 situations clients find themselves in when it comes to the state of their processes. We all fall under one of these three and sometimes in more than one.
- The process is not working – Pretty self-explanatory, right? For reasons usually related to technology limitations, staffing challenges, outdated processes, or a lack of interest and/or investment, the way the client and/or the vendor are doing things simply isn’t effective. Or to put it better, there are better ways to do it. The good news is, if the process isn’t working, it should be pretty easy to find out why. If you are the client, you have to lean on your vendor and let them make suggestions and help you. Consequently, a good partner and vendor should be asking if they can do that for you. They should be aggressive and consistent when asking to deal with these issues because they are suffering as well. The contact center is not complicated enough to stump a group of adults who work in the business. Getting together with the client and the vendor will help identify the problem. Once it’s identified, there should be someone in the room who already knows how to solve it, or you can ask someone with learning how to solve it. Either way, as I said, it’s not complicated enough to stump a group of people who have spent any time in the business. Do me a favor, and take a second right now to think about the last negative experience you had while contacting a company needing “their process” to work. If several come to mind, you have an idea of the frequency.
- The second type is more hidden and more innocent in nature. What is all too common is when processes have not been reviewed or looked at in a long time. Your processes may be lacking, and it may be because you think all is well when in reality there are things that can be done better. As you know, nothing stays new or innovative very long, so this is a never-ending cycle. Again, working with your vendor and getting valuable feedback from them (not fluff) is a great way to deal with this. Be aware that you don’t need a lot of shiny cup holders in your contact center solution to do it well. You need actionable solutions that will cover the vast majority of situations. Again, a good partner will be engaging and somewhat aggressive when it comes to making suggestions on how to do things better. If not, ask your vendor to provide some things routinely (QBR, bi-annually, annually, etc.) that they think are innovative or new. There are all types of things on the market today that a seasoned and experienced contact center partner should know a lot about. This is the category most organizations find themselves in. You should be asking each other questions frequently like: Why are we struggling to hire? Can we hire and retain staff better? How do we go about sourcing better tools? How can we improve training? The questions are never-ending and having a partner who is always looking to press and stretch you, is a good partner to have. A partner that does not do that, does not value your business and odds are, you will replace them at some point.
- Everything is going great – Great! Simply put, you need a partner that will maintain that status for you. You are hitting on all cylinders, know exactly what your strategy and identity is as an organization and your partner needs to be able to come alongside of you. Unfortunately, with the challenges that face every contact center, this is probably not a place most organizations find themselves and if they do, they rarely live there every day. If you are in this rare category, make sure your contact center partner is aware of the expectations and the negative consequences of not achieving expectations around what you have worked so hard to build.
The bottom line is processes are where the day-to-day life in the contact center occurs. If you have good people (see previous blog post) and you are prioritizing the importance of processes as part of the culture for you and your vendor… you are going to be getting the most out of your contact center partner.