Innovate. Innovate your contact center. Innovate your contact center processes. A magic buzzword or phrase I have seen a lot lately. Not too much of any real activity to support the determination to do so. Not with the major vendors on the market, anyways. Maybe I got it wrong and the fact that everybody has been “going into cloud” for the last couple of years is the way many leaders and managers imagine innovation. That is not really the way I would be imagining something innovative. Cloud is a long-term technological change in the whole industry that just shifts the focus of “this is how we are going to operate.” Oh, and I do not mean to undermine this opinion and direction but I want to see quicker and more short-term achievable innovations.
What are the main customer care channels? Starting with good old telephony all the way to social media, we all know them. Thinking about the bigger ones – when was the last time you thought to yourself something like: “Wow, this is a great idea and I believe it is going to shake up the customer care world?” Furthermore, what are the basic and most closely followed KPIs? We could spend hours elaborating on this topic. I believe that in the end we would get stuck on the fact that nothing new has really happened since everybody has been “cloudified”. We all strive for Average Handling Time, First Call Resolution, Customer Churn and so on. Still, that is all quite interesting but do I dare calling it innovative? I don’t really think so. We have even made agent attrition a fixed cost within contact centers! So what to do? Where to look for inspiration and is it even somewhere out there?
There is definitely some traction in the, at the moment, minor customer care channels such as social media and chat. But how much do these take up? 15% of the whole customer care world? Hopefully in the near future. Following closely innovative and flexible small vendors might be one of the ways to introduce new trends that will make contact centers and the system integrators and vendors supplying them technology get what they could want. What is that? Exposure, I believe. What if a small partner comes up with a solution suddenly optimizing agent attrition by 3-5%? That means a lot of money saved. Will the big players let such product become a part of their portfolio because they can grasp an opportunity? Will they become widely followed and praised visionaries or will they just wait it out and keep their calm? Money is what moves the will to introduce something new in the first place an it is still there. Being a Leader generates a steady income but so does being an innovator. It is about taking the chance. No matter how large you are or how much of a Leader you rank.
Various versions of the following diagram (originally by Gartner) have been appearing in many different forms and we are all going a bit crazy and obsessing about it.
Why is the Visionaries area so empty?
Because the giant vendors of contact center software, who should be influencing and driving the innovations the most, are simply too rigid, unscalable and unwilling to seamlessly and flexibly introduce new innovative functionalities and metrics into their products and services. And on the other hand, they are happy with their Leaders position since their current portfolio seems to be large enough. The fact that they can (supposedly) influence AHT and FCR is great up to a certain extent but will not secure them any movement “to the right” within the chart. What about the other ones? The Niche Players and Challengers. Why not give a chance to small vendors with great, game changing ideas? They will gladly cooperate with larger vendors and system integrators, become a part of their portfolio, and look. All of the sudden the Visionaries area could get a bit more interesting.
And of course, all of this then influences the services providers, as shown in the following chart. So in the end the magic quadrant situation is a copy of one another.
There is a beautiful quote I read recently: “In order for contact centers to remain relevant and competitive they must also adapt and adopt the latest technologies.”
I surely do wish it was so.
Přemek Piska, CCO Trade Design