Over the years, I have implemented several new channels to teams in the contact center. At times, it was the result of innovation, but most often it was to enhance the customer experience and service customers in ways they desired. After all, contact centers should meet the customer where they are!

As the industry looks forward with an eye on improvement, we are seeing new channels emerge. Phone, email, and chat are making way for emerging channels such as social media, video, text, mobile apps and self service. Make no mistake; this is an exciting time for the service industry. We are seeing innovative strategies and solutions that are taking the customer service to the ‘next level.’
  • Is it needed?
While you may have a desire to implement new channels, you must determine if there is a need. Are customers requesting the channel? Does internal research and data analysis suggest this is viable? Do you have the overall volume to support additional channels? Also, with each new channel, you must ensure your center is properly trained and staffed. This could be a costly endeavor to undertake, so one must be prudent in determining the need as it will impact your bottom line.
  • Pilot Program
Once you are ready to move forward with implementing the new channel, pilot the program with a subset of your team(s). This will ensure you have better control of the entire process and can make changes on the fly with limited impact to agents, business and customers. Piloting a program increases your ability to successfully manage it. Not to mention, it allows those involved to gain more insight and experience while fostering collaboration and communication.
  • Evaluate
Throughout the pilot, there should be continual evaluation to ensure milestones are being met, scope is defined, and the goal is obtainable. This phase is where a new course can be taken, and objectives can be reassessed. The evaluation process determines if the pilot can be applied at a larger scale or if the project should be scrapped. Therefore, it should be given considerable thought, critique, and discussion.
  • Slow roll out
Once the pilot has proven successful, it’s time to implement. My personal experience suggests a slow, deliberate implementation is much easier to manage. I would introduce a new group as the subsequent one is trained and their performance has been evaluated. Training new staff, and allowing them time to acclimate should be in the forefront of your mind. This will limit mistakes from being widespread and lessen the chance the customer is a victim of those mistakes. Also, a slow roll out allows for the creation of SME’s. The initial team members, having more exposure and experience, will be able to assist the newer group.

Sean is a Contact Center manager with over 13 years of experience. He has a terrific pulse on incorporating innovation into the contact center. He's implemented social, outsourcing partners, new technology, and new products, while maintaining an award-winning contact center.

His contact center is a past winner of the ICMI "Global Call Center of the Year" award for Small to Medium-Sized Centers.

Follow on Twitter @SeanBHawkins