A few years ago, a contact center was considered a “non-strategic” part of an organization’s business operations – important but not mission-critical to its long-term goals. Over the past few years, as Customer Experience (CX) has emerged as a key differentiator of business success, many organizations realized the importance of omnichannel contact centers. And one of the most critical enabling factors for an omnichannel contact center is its ability to integrate third-party technologies and tools with its main operational platform. This is especially true in post-COVID times when agents need to access a swathe of information and tools to support their customers.
Integration offers numerous benefits that today’s contact centers cannot afford to ignore:
- Consolidated systems to leverage operational synergies, and increase overall efficiency and profitability
- Streamlined business processes through automation
- Improved data flow across the contact center, and between the contact center and other business functions
- Single integrated environment to eliminate the need for training in multiple systems
- Eliminate confusion and rework, and increase agent productivity
- 360° customer views for more meaningful interactions, lower AHT, and higher FCR
Integration also empowers contact centers to streamline their digital transformation efforts to deliver enhanced customer experiences.
However, integration challenges often hinder the digital transformation efforts of 85% of organizations, even though 94% of IT leaders report that their organizations need integration across every function of the enterprise (including Customer Support).
What are these challenges and how can contact centers overcome them?
#1: A lack of awareness or knowledge
The contact center industry is at a fairly mature stage. Therefore, it is awash with several contact center software solutions, ranging from ServiceNow and workforce management (WFM) tools to CRM databases, automated voice response systems, and more. But most contact centers struggle to understand which technology is best to implement and why. And even when they do deploy the new technology, it is often not adequately integrated with other systems, minimizing its overall value.
Before investing in any technology, contact center management must first determine what is needed in the short, medium, and long term, and why. This requires separating the “nice to have” and the “need to have” features, checking each list against the budget, and finding a vendor who can seamlessly integrate the old with the new. It also helps to make a business case for the need-to-have features, so the budget can be adjusted if required.
#2: Conflicting business priorities
The reasons for implementing and integrating new technology may conflict with each other, which can make life very difficult for contact center senior management, supervisors, and even staff. For example, one priority might be to increase customer satisfaction, while another may cut costs. These conflicts may be within the contact center itself or between the contact center and other business parts.
The logical place to start would be to list all priorities and goals in order of importance. If the conflicts are between different departments, ask for their inputs, and then prioritize the list based on values that are held in the highest regard amongst all departments. Then create a plan for investing in those integrations, and commit the necessary resources to make it happen.
#3: Technology “silos” that don’t “talk” to each other
In many contact centers, critical systems or technologies that don’t talk to each other are common challenges. When third-party systems are not tied together, they don’t share critical data about customers, so agents are constrained in their ability to deliver great customer experiences (CX) with every interaction. Moreover, technology silos often lead to process silos. In such a setup, agents need to use multiple screens and numerous applications to resolve customer requests. This increases AHT reduces FCR and lowers the quality of support.
It’s important to ensure that any new technology will seamlessly integrate with existing technologies. Working with an integration expert like NovelVox can also help, especially for Cisco, Avaya, and Genesys contact centers looking to integrate their existing platforms with Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Zendesk, or ServiceNow.
#4: Legacy/”inflexible” infrastructure
Inflexible infrastructure is a problem for many older contact centers. Such systems usually require expensive hardware upgrades and ongoing maintenance to remain functional. Often, they don’t support the low-cost or seamless integration and force contact centers to work with the silos mentioned above. Over time, customer metrics sink, agent turnover increases, and maintenance costs rise – none of which are ideal situations for a modern contact center.
Migrating from an inflexible, on-premise infrastructure setup to a cloud-based setup can eliminate these challenges. It requires minimum investment to deploy, maintain, and support. It also simplifies omnichannel communication management and makes third-party integration easier. Over time, it yields improved results concerning employee performance, business resilience, and CX.
A final word
Third-party integrations can remove operational bottlenecks, reduce the stress on agents, and improve CX. However, these critical challenges can be major hindrances, which contact centers need to address sooner rather than later. For over a decade, NovelVox has enabled ambitious contact centers to successfully address their integration needs, and achieve a competitive edge in a crowded market.