10 Tips for Implementing New Technology into Your Call Center
The pace of the tech evolution is picking up. It’s a constant challenge to identify a solution that will still be relevant for your organization for the long term. Here are ten tips from TechSee on the top areas to focus on when choosing and implementing new technology into your workplace, ensuring you choose systems that will be the best fit for you and your workplace.
If you keep on top of the latest tech solutions for your industry and are trying to figure out the right product for you, one of the main hurdles to overcome is pinpointing the solution that will still be relevant for your organisation for the next year, or five. You need to navigate your business in the direction that will best balance resources invested versus benefits ripped from innovation.
But finding it is just the beginning. Innovation is worthless without good implementation. Without the right people guiding the organization and providing employees with the necessary training, tools and work procedures that put innovation into proper use, even the best tool will be sitting on the shelf (or hidden on your agent’s dashboard) untouched.
Recent tech innovation in the workplaces
Customer Service and CX have been at the epicenter of a whirlwind of innovation that’s still ongoing. And workplaces that have had a relatively safe and structured technological infrastructure over the last two decades are now experiencing no less than a technological revolution driven by customer demand and an expanding interface with customers.
At the epicenter of customer support sits the contact center, staffed with support agents who have one of the toughest jobs out there – solving customer problems and keeping customers happy. The first priority for a customer service agent (CSA) is to be attentive to the person they are speaking to (who is quite often not too happy) and genuinely help them.
In addition, the CSA has to deliver on his own and his team’s KPIs. There’s also the pressure to stay updated on the company’s offerings, new products, changing policies and so on. It’s a tall order for anyone.
It’s not surprising that most CSAs have a hard time adapting to new technology in their workplace. It could be a new CRM and dashboard to become familiar with, or even a whole new method of delivering service. Providing customer service through omni-channel, chat, or augmented visual support is very different to simply talking on the phone. When it comes to having to learn entirely new scripts and protocols, continuing on auto-pilot using the old, familiar and easy methods is a lot more tempting.
This is all part of the challenge innovative tech companies have to confront when building their products and planning for a successful implementation process within organizations.
Taking the first step towards successful tech implementation
What’s the solution? Innovative tech companies and corporate leadership have to build solutions and processes that empower agents to move forward and to step out of their comfort zone in order for everyone to gain in the long term. In the words of the very wise Lao Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” For customer service agents that first step is often the toughest.
The journey of digitally transforming your organization is critical to keep your business on track. The first step is crucial and depends on your team’s openness and motivation to help you find the best solution and deliver the best possible service.
Top ten areas to focus on when implementing new technology into the workplace
Below are the ten rules (learned with sweat and blood) to follow in order to turn employees into new tech champions!
1. Show how the new technology benefits everyone
New technology is only worthwhile if it delivers value. Ideally, it should deliver value on all levels – to your customers, your employees and the company’s bottom line. If this is not the case, you will have significantly more resistance. If this is the case, when you introduce a technological solution to your team, focus on the benefits for them. What will their lives be like once this solution is successfully implemented? Why is it better for them? Give them a vision to aspire towards. Give them a better future to imagine.
Then hone in on the specifics by making sure your management staff and agents have a clear idea of how a particular tech solution can help by positively impacting the business’s ROI and hopefully the bottom line. You’ll get employees on board faster when they see how it will assist them, making their jobs better and easier.
2. Maximize enthusiasm for the new tech
Employees may “fail” to use new tech in the short term but only if the powers that be (i.e., management) allow it and look the other way. Adoption starts with the business’s leaders displaying enthusiasm and encouraging use, and trickles down to other key personnel like team leaders championing the tech and its benefits. Executives should drive the process while looking to team leaders, who know employees well, to better understand the most effective methods for encouraging new technology usage.
3. Adequately prepare for successful implementation of the new systems
If you bring new technology into your workplace without properly introducing it, you can be sure you’re heading towards failure. That means two things:
- Design the proper process for introduction
- Assign the right champion to the process – a capable owner that will drive the process and has something at stake
The process needs to include a proper introduction and training as well as ongoing milestones, feedback, sticks and carrots, and rewards. The champion you pick must be dedicated and have a deep understanding of the new technology and its benefits, but more importantly, someone that the team relates to and strongly believes in.
4. Prove the new tech’s use in real life
To demonstrate how great technology can change the workplace, have a clear use case that you can start with. A supervisor should be able to draw a straight line from the new technology to the use case without it getting interrupted. This will help everyone in the call center understand the value and potential impact. It will also serve as the first ‘must use’ situation for the new technology.
This takes us back to the idea of the first step. The best way of implementing new technology and encouraging your agents to start using it is when the trigger is clear, the process is clear, and the desired outcome is clear. Make it as easy as possible for your agents by structuring a clear visible procedure for them.
5. Scale the implementation gradually
There are a few reasons why it’s better to start small and then expand.
- Starting small gives you more control.
- You’re able to choose the most appropriate people to test and then lead the change.
- Most of the time you will be limiting your risk by testing a new technology with 10 of your agents. This will cost less and demand less resources than doing so with 1,000 agents.
- You’re bound to make some mistakes in the beginning – choosing the wrong use case, building a procedure that’s less than perfect, missing the KPIs that matter most, or not finding the best way to incentivize your agents.
It’s best to get through this learning curve and then have a validated process by the time you introduce the technology to your complete operation and entire employee workforce.
6. Technology, meet the KPIs
Choosing the right KPIs, setting the right priorities in cases of KPI conflicts, and incorporating those insights into your feedback system to your agents is critical to the success of implementing new technology.
When bringing new technology into the workplace, make sure that the KPIs associated with it are fully fleshed out. Which KPIs will be affected? What kind of change should you expect to see realistically? How will they be calculated? Where will the data come from and who will be responsible for delivering it? Make sure you have a control group that is valid.
Step back and look at the big picture. Disruptive technologies can often affect more than just one department. Therefore, measuring the overall effect on the organization is important because it is the only KPI that will give you the real value of a new technology.
Sometimes a new business procedure will put pressure on one department while alleviating pressure on another one. It is important to identify these possible pitfalls in advance and build compensation packages or strengthen the departments that will suffer to help the company.
It’s the people who object to change who will be prepared to use this information against you so be prepared to win this potential battle if it arises.
7. First impressions matter
Everybody speaks about the first experience for the customer. It applies to your agents just as much! Your agents have to have a good experience the first time they meet a new technology and the first time they implement it with a customer.
During the introduction of a new technology, try to control the environment to ensure the experience is positive for all. During implementation, have your tech champions (as mentioned above) on hand during the first few weeks to reassure employees, encourage and assist when necessary. Even if you do everything else right, missing out on this step will mean you have lost the fight with resistant employees, and maybe even others.
8. Easy to use tech equals happy agents
When your call center agents are in a room learning how to use this new disruptive technology, it means they are not at their desks doing their jobs. Training your agents in new technology and systems as quickly as possible is key to keeping everything and everyone on track. Ensure the system is easily understood by your agents so that they can pick it up quickly.
Simplicity, reliability and an intuitive interface are imperative, as is a bug-free solution. A revolutionary technology that is not user friendly won’t be implemented by your employees successfully. We can’t stress this enough – implementation is tough! Try to make sure the technology itself is as simple to use as humanly possible.
9. Self-service support, training and tutorials are necessary
Just as you provide your customers with a self-service portal that they rely on, your support agents will need the same support for any technology they need to work with. Easy support access in the form of how-to videos, troubleshooting guides, and knowledge bases must be available for every step of the solution.
If you can achieve having your employees adopt this new technology and grow to love it, they will take the time (even if it’s 60 or 90 seconds a day ) to learn a new feature or understand how to solve an issue they encounter. Even better, they will likely share this with their teammates. This will help ensure continuous engagement and in-depth implementation of the new workplace software. Employees can learn and improve at their own pace in their own time.
10. Gamify the workplace while implementing new technology
Last but not least, help your agents to help you! Gamifying is the up-and-coming way to motivate teams and it’s been seen to succeed again and again. Fun competitions and simple prizes can go a long way with your staff as an incentive.
You can be creative with the process and encourage your agents to share success stories with their teammates. Find catchy taglines, run a scoreboard, throw a party for everyone when you hit the target. Not only will it help with successful implementation of the technology you are introducing into your company, it will help your agents to become enthusiastic about the next technology implementation you’d like to start using.
New Technology + Careful Implementation = Success
In an age when change is the only constant, managing change is crucial.
You can’t control what will happen. You don’t know what will work and what won’t. What you can do is engage in the best process and do everything you can to test if a new technological solution will work for your company, employees and customers.
Preparation is key. Test the waters before implementing new technology. Make sure the new technology you choose is easy to adjust to and functions in a way that will help agents perform their roles more efficiently. Focus on the technology’s benefits as you introduce it, make it as fun and as easy as possible, and remember that some bumps are to be expected. Remember, as long as management supports the tech initiative in a way that is palpable, employees will willingly follow.