Expert advice

Expert advice for launching your cloud-based contact center


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    Kayleigh Karutis
  • Jan 09, 2020
TLDR

Our contact center experts share some best practices and key mistakes to avoid for launching a cloud-based contact center.

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If your business is still locked into legacy contact center technology, chances are you’re feeling the pain of that system’s limitations and pitfalls. From challenges implementing new channels like SMS or WhatsApp, to making simple but important changes to your phone tree, to integrating cloud-based solutions, it can often feel like the technology is working against you, not for you.

Contact centers, though, are changing. Building a cloud-based one is easier than ever thanks to the power of APIs to drive modern communications.

From a business perspective, cloud-based contact centers are a worthwhile investment because they vastly improve customer experience—and quality customer experience drives profits. 

They are easily scalable to accommodate growth; they allow for frequent iteration and testing; they provide deep data and key business insights to make better decisions; they’re more reliable than legacy systems, and the list goes on.

That doesn’t mean the process isn’t without key considerations

Best practices

  1. Get comfortable being iterative
    A strict waterfall process might work for product releases and other projects, but when it comes to building your cloud-based contact center, it’s important to recognize that following an iterative process that allows for adjustments and flexibility ongoing is key for delivering value as a business grows and business needs change. Accepting this at the outset can help alleviate a lot of stress later on.

    Being agile and flexible gives you the opportunity to see a return on your investment more quickly as you test concepts and ideas, and it results in a better end-product because you can work through pilots and proofs of concept prior to launch to iron out snags, evaluate outcomes, and iterate to get to a better final product.

  2. Project management 101: Set your aim
    At the same time, it’s critical that your team takes the time to think through and write down all it hopes to accomplish as it creates or transitions to a cloud-based contact center, then form a coherent plan of attack that focuses on key priorities and why they matter. 

    That way, as new initiatives enter the picture or other stakeholders identify needs or concerns you may not have thought of, you have a project plan to compare against, and you can avoid the dreaded “shiny object syndrome” that often plagues major initiatives.

    Oftentimes, planning occurs by starting with the end in mind: “We need to go live by X date.” And yes, that’s the reality most companies live in. But that thinking should, in turn, facilitate a frank conversation with key business stakeholders about what needs to happen to make that date… and more likely, what can’t happen in lieu of prioritizing your desired timeline. Identify the tradeoffs you’re willing to make, and the risks involved in shifting those priorities.

  3. Consider your dependencies
    There are a lot of established dependencies when you’re creating and launching a cloud-based contact center. Here are two to consider:

    • Network readiness and bandwidth. There are standardized tools that can assess network readiness and bandwidth availability, identify deficiencies in existing ports, and check the general health of your system. Do that early, because, for some organizations, it can take quite a while to make network changes, and it may also necessitate pulling in engineering to your “capital P Project Team,” a step you may not have done initially.
    • For global companies, consider the fact that facilitating ports in some countries may take longer than others, and in some countries, it’s a highly manual process. Don’t let that be a snag in your later-stage launch planning; tackle it early.

  4. Determine the best way to bring agents on board
    It’s best to start with a small group of agents and expand if you’re able because making changes with your pilot group will be a lot easier than making changes with your entire agent population.

    Pick a small group and perform a proof of concept with them internally (facilities, payroll, or an HR function that’s completely internal) in order to evaluate your solution and ensure that what you’ve built will meet the needs of your business. This process can give incredible insight into what needs to be changed to make the system better for agents and customers alike, creating a highly valuable learning opportunity that only grows as you loop more agents in and include external groups in addition to the internal ones you tested on.

    One last thing of note: consider your business cycles and call volumes by day and time of year. If you’re in an industry with a particular cycle, like retail around Thanksgiving and Christmas or tax season for financial services, you don’t want to make massive changes during or immediately before those times.

Common mistakes to avoid

  1. Overlooking resourcing for new or updated features. In creating your cloud-based contact center, you may identify features that need improvement or even need to be created from scratch, in order to get the most out of what you’re building. Make sure you have clarity on what your resources are for making that happen, both on the frontend and backend.
  2. Forgetting about a  fallback strategy. Make sure that once you do cut over to your new solution, you have a way of going back if something goes awry. Best case scenario, you’ve done exceptional user testing to the point you’re confident everything is fine… but things happen, and having a fallback strategy is important to have in place.
  3. Assuming audio quality is adequate. Many companies run into issues with headset volumes, or browsers suppressing microphones, or auto-mute functions that seem minor but can add up to a huge headache when you’re running a center with hundreds or thousands of agents. This is usually mitigated by testing ahead of time, and by giving agents headsets and instructions days ahead of time to ensure they’re comfortable before going live on their first support call.
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Kayleigh Karutis