Last week, we reviewed how to keep existing processes from derailing your efforts to make progress when purchasing digital messaging for your contact center (or any enterprise software). As promised, in this post we will review implementing a progress-based customer experience program. First, we will cover four basic steps to a progress-driven action strategy: plan, execute, quantify, and repeat. Finally, we will discuss what to look for in a trusted innovation partner.
How does a lack of focus on progress impact customer experience?
Before we dive into the post, let’s review the impact of not maintaining a progress-based focus in your contact center. When you plan around existing processes, you are hindering your ability to adapt as quickly as your competition. Your contact center agents and your customers will bear the weight of burdens and effort placed on them to receive full issue resolution. When you allow progress and existing process to both have a seat at the metaphorical table, you can pragmatically review the pros and cons of implementing new processes, systems, and experiences. The facts are that social media and other digital messaging apps have fundamentally changed how your customers interact with each other. Subsequently, those changes have created new, higher expectations when interacting with brands.
Step one: Consider progress when planning
First, it is imperative that your planning centers around taking action. By creating an action-based plan, you are allowing your team to make progress and not just brainstorm. It is not enough to talk the talk; you must also walk the walk. When you are forming an action plan, keep both short-term plans and long-term plans in mind. In fact, when working on short-term plans, consider your long-term vision and overall goals. What you put in place today should set a strong foundation for your future. Don’t let yesterday’s processes hinder your ability to build something more efficient. Involve team members and hold them accountable for pushing innovation forward. (Personally, I love how Zappos has instilled a value of ownership and self-management – the results have been a challenge, but awesome to witness as a vendor and a customer of theirs.) During this time of uncertainty for the greater workforce that powers contact centers, it is time to invest strategically in your employees, especially agents. Can you create personal goals with your team that enhances their skills and give them a career path aided by software, bots, and AI? Having a clear path to future goals establishes a strong team foundation and increases team member buy-in. At the end of the day, innovation must be encouraged from the top.
Develop and keep a focus on progress
Ask yourself these four questions to keep your team on track:
- How will this impact our customer experience?
- How will this impact our team member experience?
- How will this impact our bottom line?
- How will we maintain freshness and momentum going forward?
Step two: Put your plan into action
Once you have a plan in place, put it into action! Begin with your team: inform them of the changes you will be making, how they will come to be, and the reasons why you will update your processes. Next, enable your work force. Train your team to use any new systems and learn new standard operating procedures. Continue to invest in your staff after training, especially those who are motivated to move up the chain of command. Place a focus on empowering employees and allowing them to take ownership of continued innovations.
Step three: Measure your results
KPIs and SLAs and response times, oh my! In step three, we get to get quantitative (a nice balance to the qualitative planning phase). By the time you can gather metrics to measure the impact of your work, you will likely have considered your desired (quantitative) goals. Does your brand aim to fully resolve all digital messaging based conversations? Do you plan to meet or exceed customer expectations by responding quickly? Having tangible goals gives your team something to track toward. Set initial objectives, review metrics and re-evaluate benchmarks, then set new goals. A philosophy we have in common with many of our customers is the desire to continuously improve. If you are running into the same issues over and over again, are you going to keep putting yourself in that situation? Hopefully not! Keep your customer’s experiences in mind when reviewing metrics and setting goals.
Step four: Repeat
Lastly, don’t stop! Ever! Progress can stagnate into a process that weighs your team down if a focus on progress is not maintained. The best part of working under a progress-driven plan is that you have the freedom to pause and adjust your strategy along the way. If you have an early indicator that a plan is not panning out, you can quickly modify the plan to something more effective. I see teams get frustrated when they pour energy, time, and other resources into a process that doesn’t work out as planned. The world of customer care, service, and experience is shifting and developing month-by-month. Is your brand ready to be known as a customer innovation leader?
How to find a trusted innovation partner
If you are interested in diving head-first into contact center transformations but aren’t sure where to start, I’ve created a short list of considerations to have in mind when working with a vendor as an innovation partner. Ask yourself these five questions and use them to initiate conversations with the partners you already work with and new vendor partners you introduce in the future:
- Is this partner an expert in their field?
- Is this partner an expert in my business?
- Do our company initiatives, goals, and objective’s align with this partner’s vision?
- Does this partner promise to solve all my issues with a magic solution that sounds too good to be true?
- Will we drive each other toward innovation?
At Sparkcentral we have a unique dedication to our customers (for starters, we truly view and value as partners). We love sharing trends, experience, and research with them in ways that provide business value. We work closely with partners on ensuring processes set up today are steeped in progress and are future-driven. The results of teams aligning to focus on the needs of their customers today, tomorrow, and five years from now is incredible.
As you re-evaluate your current workflow and approach, we at Sparkcentral welcome questions. From purchasing with progress in mind to planning for the future, we would love to start a conversation with you (even if you aren’t a customer of ours yet). In the meantime, keep these four tenets in mind: plan, execute, quantify, repeat. We look forward to working with you to deliver amazing customer experiences at scale in your contact center!