The transformation of call centers into next-gen contact centers with focus on multiple service channels, self-service, geographically dispersed teams, and faster resolutions has led to an increase in adoption of cloud-based platforms. Such platforms can replace discrete on-premise systems with a modernized, agile, and scalable platform that consolidates major functions, resulting in tangible and intangible benefits.
As service providers look beyond right sourcing to drive efficiencies, meet ever-changing customer preferences and manage COVID-19 driven remote work related challenges, they often turn to cloud-based Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) that offer reliability, scalability and flexibility in supporting omni-channel requirements.
However, merely implementing a cloud platform does not guarantee success. The challenges faced while managing customer perception and choices, navigating the technology and partner selections, designing organization processes and policies, and engaging all stakeholders in a coordinated team effort can be overwhelming.
A successful transformation involves planning ahead and defining products and services, organization and operating models that are future proof, and ensuring the execution and transition is well managed with focus on cost and benefit management. There are six key areas of focus listed below.
Strategy & Finance
It is important to lay a solid foundation with an overall enterprise strategy and integrate the contact center (CC) strategy with this larger vision, aligning stated business objectives, product offerings and lifecycle.
- Success criteria & KPIs: It is critical to define KPIs upfront and measure them against industry benchmarks. KPIs can vary based on specific firm needs. A contact center transition will traditionally focus on financial gains such as reducing handle time or reducing calls to the center. It is equally important to focus on experience metrics that ensure higher customer engagement and satisfaction, leading to better business metrics.
- Cloud Finance: The traditional models of managing cost are not suited for cloud-based transformation. The Infosys Consulting cloud services team has laid out a cloud finance management framework that combines business, finance and service dimensions – focusing on resource tagging and budgeting, managing resources, consistently allocating costs and optimizing architecture and operating models.
The most important asset in a service industry are the customers and employees. The success of the transformation program depends on their adoption of new processes and tools. The key recommendations to empower employees and customers include:
- Reengineer customer service processes from the customers’ viewpoint rather than the company perspective.
- Engage early, transparently, and often to integrate all employees, on premise and remote; leverage industry leading practices offered by organization change management (OCM) experts.
- Build a continuous feedback loop allowing employees to share ideas and concerns, thus gaining their trust and commitment.
- Organize trainings and certifications to help employees build skills, knowledge, and collaboration techniques.
- Create programs to educate customers and encourage them to adopt the new capabilities.
The transition to a CCaaS model necessitates change in ways of working. This has been amplified by more employees shifting to remote or hybrid models wherein “coffee side” conversations and “in person” hand-offs have reduced. Key recommendations include:
- Analyze business processes that involve high incidence of steps and hand-offs, leverage process monitoring solutions to accurately discover and document process steps, decisions, and metrics.
- Automate tasks and deploy event monitoring and notification solutions, reduce human touchpoints, minimize offline tasks and EUCs, and simplify hand-offs
- Refresh the process manuals to align with the redesigned processes and tools, minimize the need for “tribal” knowledge and reduce the employee onboarding time.
A cloud-first decision model involves selecting Cloud Service Providers (CSP), software as a service (SaaS) vendors and system integrators (SI) that provides the best fitment to the functional needs, architectural standards, and financial constraints.
- Omni-channel: Assess omni-channel requirements for your industry and specifically for your company. The right mix of technologies can significantly enhance customer service scores while reducing costs.
- Self-service: There is an increased focus on self-service channels such as web, chatbots, and mobile. The web channel can provide the most comprehensive information about products and services, while exposing some transaction related services. The chatbot channel can augment traditional FAQs by leveraging machine learning algorithms to process natural language and guide customers on using existing web-based functionalities.
- Live chat: The availability of a live chat capability can reduce the need for a phone call and enables self-service, as “online” agents can guide customers. However, it can lead to lower satisfaction scores if the customer finds it intrusive or the responses are delayed or unhelpful. It is advised to use experienced agents and take regular feedback from customers on the availability (on demand vs proactive), quality of responses, and overall experience.
- Application portfolio management: Focus on streamlining the existing application portfolio with an explicit goal of improving efficiency, reducing complexity, aligning standards, and lowering costs. Key considerations include:
- Discovery: Collect and validate app landscape info including infrastructure, usage, dependencies etc.
- Triage: Identify apps that can be retired, replace with cloud-based alternatives, migrate to cloud (re-host, re-platform, refactor, and redesign) or retain on premise.
- Modernize: Modernize cloud and on-premise applications to better integrate with the new environment, upgrade and migrate to newer and agile architecture framework and technologies.
Data and analytics
Data helps enable the integration of the varied technologies, processes and products. While it has always been a key pillar of successful customer interactions, the advent of digital (BOT) workers, “work from home” human agents, and omni-channel capabilities has amplified the need for a comprehensive data strategy that leverages newer technologies such as data lake and AI based analytics.
- Typical use cases include identifying self-service capabilities, harnessing disparate knowledge sources, predicting user behavior, and most importantly provide a 360 view of a customer relationship that can help personalize responses and drive first call resolution.
True to all large transformation programs, a CCaaS led transformation will need a focused investment in setting up program governance models that helps provide oversight over projects and initiatives. A layered governance approach can expedite decisions and manage issues and risks in a coordinated manner, while managing stakeholder expectations and reducing organizational silos.
The recommendations listed above can help successfully transition call centers to cloud-based contact centers that allows businesses to support rapid changes in customer behavior, market conditions and avoid significant disruptions due to local and global events.
- Shenoy, Vishwanath, et al, “Closing the Cloud Gap: The CIO mandate for the post-COVID-19 future”, https://www.infosysconsultinginsights.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/closing-the-cloud-gap_infosys-consulting.pdf, 2020.
- Boudway, Michele, “Technology and experience disruptions in Collections transformation”, https://www.infosysconsultinginsights.com/2021/05/13/technology-experience-collections-transformation/, May 2021.
Partner, Infosys Consulting
Vishwanath currently leads our enterprise strategy and architecture practice in North America and is based out of our New York hub. He has over 18 years of experience in technology strategy and transformation initiatives primarily in the financial services industry. His areas of expertise include IT strategy and roadmap, IT cost optimization, IT modernization, multi-speed IT, and IT integration. Prior to his Infosys journey, Vishwanath worked at ICICI Bank and IBM.
Parag has 25+ years’ experience providing strategy, planning and execution leadership for large scale transformation programs, including new global product offerings, customer and network operations, and IT systems. He leverages cross-industry and business knowledge to identify, develop, and implement innovative solutions that generate qualitative and quantitative benefits. Parag is based out of Philadelphia, USA.
Sachin is a seasoned TOGAF 9.1, Certified Scrum Master, Azure and SOA certified CIO advisory consultant working as a Principal in Infosys. Sachin brings over 21 years of rich and diverse IT experience spanning across Enterprise Architecture, IT strategy, IT optimization, Agile and other digital areas. In the past Sachin has been instrumental in leading multiple offerings as part of capability development, leading engagement teams, and delivering the consulting engagements to success across multiple domains and geographies for fortune 500 clients. Sachin is based out of Sydney, Australia.
Ruchi is a consultant with 10 years of experience in Business Consulting, Project Management and Client Relationship Management across industries especially in Banking and Financial Services. Ruchi has been with Infosys consulting for 4 years and has performed project management roles for global banks & financial institutions, and has helped them through their transformation journey. Ruchi is based out of Singapore.