*Big News! This article was a winner in the reader-voted Customer Contact Central MVP Awards 2022!*
Picture yourself on the other side of the arduous RFP process (woohoo!) with your chosen contact center outsourcer on your side. Now, you can take a deep breath and get down to the serious business of implementing your program. The launch of a program with any new partner is always a tenuous and strenuous time – you’re just learning how to work together and there is so much at stake for your business, for your customers, and for the long-term success of your partnership.
That said, it shouldn’t be a headache. We have successfully launched dozens of programs over our years in business, including the launches of two new client programs just as the world went into lockdown. And, we’ll be frank, we’ve had some rough starts over the years and those taught us as much as the smooth ones. Here are some straightforward considerations that will help the process go smoothly.
In our years of experience, when both parties have good “self-awareness” about their corporate cultures and how they do or don’t align, you can identify potential trouble spots on the horizon and avert them.
Consider the difference between a tech startup and a multinational banking institution, for example. Many tech startups subscribe to the “fail fast” culture. When it comes to innovating and building cutting-edge products and services, that is sound strategy. It’s a cultural approach that is perfectly suited to getting products and SaaS offerings into market – launch fast and work the bugs out later. “Fix it in the mix,” as they say in the film biz.
Whereas, in the customer care business, our approach tends to be “go slow to go far.” If your organization leans toward the full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes mode of operating, your outsourcer will probably want to slow your roll, at least during the implementation phase. Understanding where you are both coming from and finding a workable cadence that suits both sides of the equation will prevent frustration and dissatisfaction down the road.
On the other hand, financial institutions are often rooted in hierarchy where the wheels of decision-making move slowly. Standing up a new program for a global bank means understanding that there are layers and layers of approvals with multiple senior stakeholders, even up to and including the board level. That reality can slow down the whole process. Say a delayed decision from a tech stakeholder means missed milestones for a customer service stakeholder, well, that may inevitably impact the launch date itself, leading to a situation that erodes trust before you’ve even gotten out of the starting blocks.
In both cases—and everything in between this range of extremes—understanding the values in your unique company culture and how those align with your customer experience goals is critical. If there’s a disconnect, figure it out upfront and work with your partner to establish timelines and milestones accordingly.
Launching your outsourced contact center program is a collaborative process—but it is possible to have too many cooks in the kitchen if there isn’t a single executive sponsor on both sides. When there is no clear “the buck stops here” leadership, that can lead to a quagmire of opinions about priorities.
Of course, on the flip side, it’s possible to have too few resources with no one willing to jump in and collaborate. If your tech team is caught up in other deliverables or there’s limited executive buy-in, your contact center partner will struggle to move things forward and make important decisions without your input.
Implementing an outsourced program is an inherently complex and challenging project because it impacts almost every function in your business. It requires a cross-functional committee with a singular executive decision maker. This way, there are no gaps or risks in neglecting a key piece of the puzzle; the decision-maker leverages a team of experts but is responsible for clearing any roadblocks to get the program off the ground.
The adage “start as you mean to go on” has never been more relevant. When launching your new contact center, the goals you have for the future should be clear and well-articulated from Day One.
Let’s say you’re looking to implement a new CRM down the line, maybe 12 or 18 months out. It’s a future goal, so for right now you’re thinking about launching the contact center program with your existing CRM. It might sound like the easier solution (who wants to implement two new programs at the same time?!) but it could actually make things more difficult later. You’ll have to re-train your tenured agents, which inevitably impacts the agent experience, workforce management, and potentially, the customer experience.
What’s the three-to-five year vision for your organization? Ask that same question from multiple perspectives, including technology, products/services, corporate culture, and the business as a whole. Work with your partner to understand how these goals and objectives play a role in your customer experience and service program. Be sure to anticipate as many future changes as you can at implementation, rather than being forced to make large-scale changes down the road.
A successful launch depends upon a structured launch plan and implementation timeline. It’s critical to be realistic about timing and ensure that all decision-making is happening on a timely basis as well. Breakdowns in either of these areas will delay the launch while also affecting the agent experience and the customer experience. A carefully orchestrated launch is like a symphony – each group of functional area experts is focused on executing their role, hitting their timing, while contributing effectively to the collective goal. If one section gets out of time, the whole piece can fall apart.
The launch of your outsourced contact center program depends upon close collaboration between you and your partner. One of the major advantages of working with an outsourcer is being able to tap into and leverage the experience and insight from programs they’ve launched for other clients. Your partner will bring best practices from other clients, even clients in different verticals, that can be advantageous to you in your launch. Lean into your partner’s diverse body of work to mitigate risk and drive improvement in your own program even in the implementation phase.