Steve Sullivan

The need for maintenance in an ever-changing world

Steve Sullivan, Head of Regulatory Compliance, Contact Centre Panel

Mark Zuckerberg’s old motto “move fast and break things” has been held up for years  – depending on your point of view – as an example of all that’s best or all that’s wrong with Silicon Valley and tech titan’s impact on how we work in the 21st century.

What is undeniable is that the pace of change facing organisations across all sectors is showing no signs of slowing. The necessity for firms to change and constantly innovate is clear. So, can we dispense with iterating, pruning, maintaining and some other ‘boring jobs’?

It sounds like contact centres and all teams tasked with guiding and engaging with customers need to get with the programme of relentless change, yes? Definitely. But unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that customer-facing functions have the freedom to ‘change and move on’.

Although contemporary technologies allow firms to implement new tools and solutions without the lengthy delays of a few years ago – and often do so using their expert frontline teams directly – this does not mean that hard work finishes at the point of implementation. For customer-facing teams and operations, with their need to reflect and adapt to changes in firms’ propositions, markets and customer expectations, the successful initiation of a new technology often just creates another maintenance, administrative and optimisation task.

Failing Bots

In the past few months, I have seen various examples of expertly optimised chatbots. One failed to recognise any of the eight most common query types for the business sector it operated in. Another failed to resolve 20 easy and theoretically bot-friendly queries in a row. Instead, everyone of the contacts had to be passed to a live advisor.

Does this mean that bots are useless? No, not at all, but they require progressive, iterative optimisation to ensure they resolve as many queries as possible, in a way that’s friction-free for customers. Bots can’t be switched on and left to their own devices; they need informed, experienced customer service people to guide their processes and learning.

Multiplying Templates

Recently a former client explained that after an apparently large number of inconsistent email templates had been identified, they started a project to review and simplify the templates. As a result, the previous total of 1270, which had built up over many years, were reduced to a far more manageable 70.

So, is the use of email templates doomed to failure? Again, no, but in order to maximise the effectiveness, relevance and the degree of colleague adoption of templates, a person or team needs to be tasked with their ongoing review, maintenance and curation.

Dull but essential

Neither helping a bot to learn or editing and managing text templates are glamorous jobs, but they absolutely need doing. To some extent this maintenance will directly reflect and support the exciting change agenda. But at other times it’s just another routine task that can too easily be overlooked or dismissed in the face of seemingly more demanding priorities.

Over the coming few months contact centre people will be getting increasingly skilled at re-stating business cases for the value they can generate for both organisations and their customers. They need to ensure that they champion some of the ‘dull but essential’ tasks of process maintenance and optimisation, too.

If you’d like to discuss how you are facing up to these challenges, or how best to effectively optimise technology both new and old, just drop us a line.