Tag Archives: system integration

4 Steps to Take Before Jumping into Your Next Contact Center Solution

Throughout our 22 years of experience, Aria’s developed a methodology that we use to help our clients achieve unified customer engagement centers.

In our last blog, I discussed common contact center challenges and shared how four organizations overcame them.

Those challenges — siloed technologies, inflexible infrastructure, introducing or maintaining multiple channels, limited agent visibility — are some of the most common obstacles facing contact centers today.

Whether your contact center is facing one of those challenges or you’re aiming to expand your center’s capabilities, the first step is not choosing a technology or contact center solution to fix the issue.

First, you must:

  • Assess the contact center to determine the problem you’re out to solve
  • Quantify the benefit of solving that problem with a business case
  • Create a strategy and roadmap to fix it
  • Create parameters so you can adequately judge/compare technologies and solutions

This blog will take you through each of the four steps.

Step 1: Assess the Contact Center

The first step is assessing your contact center so you truly understand what problem you’re out to solve. This is more challenging than it may seem.

Before jumping into an assessment, go back to the vision or direction that the company has defined and the objectives that have been laid out. A company might be striving to provide high touch service to help own a niche market, and good customer experience is important to that.

To meet these objectives, the company will need certain capabilities, which might not be possible to meet with the current technology. Thus, an assessment will be required to understand the gaps that need to be filled. Examples could be adding digital channels, conversational enabled self-service, or having a single view of the customer across all departments.

But in the world of customer engagement, one challenge is often tied to, or related to, another.

For example, if you’re looking to better enable your agents at their desktop, you’ll likely find that changes will be necessary to the routing system as well as to the IVR or bot. You have to look at the contact center holistically to properly understand the challenge you’re facing and to identify appropriate solutions.

If your gap requires adding digital communication channels so your customers can reach you more easily on their channel of choice, the impact of that change will be felt throughout all areas of the contact center, from the“front door,” to routing, to how agents are enabled to handle the new channel — even to how workforce management schedules get created.

Action items:

  • Examine your current contact center operations to assess processes, prioritize gaps, and identify efficiency opportunities affecting business objectives and the customer experience
  • Evaluate the existing technology, providing recommendations on how to better leverage it, and where new technology could be of benefit
  • Build a comprehensive and holistic report of your contact center, covering all the systems that make up a contact center solution, such as ACD, WFM, routing, QA, digital channels, customer journeys, self-service (IVR, voice and chat bots), and CRMs

Step 2: Make the Business Case

Now that you have identified the gaps that need to be filled in your contact center, the next step is to quantify the benefit of filling those gaps.

Creating a business case and conducting ROI modeling for each potential change will help you understand the immediate and long-term financial results you can expect, win the support of other stakeholders and identify must-have features for when you are comparing solutions in Step 4.

Action items:

  • Identify key cost items, such as cost per call or interaction, or their cost elements such as labor cost per hour and interaction volumes
  • Identify all activities that consume your agents’ time. With siloed systems, activity might be captured in different systems
  • Include future growth projections

Step 3: Create a Strategy and Roadmap

Now that you’ve clearly identified your contact center’s goals and backed them up with a business case, it’s time to create a strategy and a step-by-step plan to get it done.

Action items:

  • Create a list of actionable recommendations to fill the gaps identified
  • Identify the initiatives/technologies required to implement these recommendations, which could include:
    • System integration or silo management
    • Omnichannel engagement
    • Cloud migration
    • Business analytics
    • CX analytics
    • Workforce management
  • Create a roadmap that includes a timeline to complete each initiative, important milestones, opportunities to quantify progress made, an objective measure of success (call center KPIs, customer metrics, business metrics, etc.)

Step 4: Identify a Contact Center Solution Vendor

Now that you’ve adequately assessed the challenges facing your contact center, tied them to a business case, and created a roadmap and strategy to overcome them, it’s time to identify an actual solution. Easier said than done.

There are countless options to choose from. New technologies aimed at contact center challenges seem to appear every day.

Action items:

  • Identify budget for a new contact center solution based on the business model in Step 2
  • Find solutions that offer all required technology, must-have functionalities and support levels based on the recommendations in Step 3
  • Identify the capabilities, fit and risks associated with each solution considered

Aria’s Methodology

Throughout our 22 years of experience, we’ve developed and refined our approach to delivering CX solutions to help our clients achieve unified customer engagement centers, including some of the world’s biggest organizations.

Our customers don’t just see us as contact center experts or vendors. They see us as a part of their internal team responsible for building strategies and direction, recommending technology and providing direction on how the solution should be implemented.

For the past 22 years we have empowered 550,000 agents and completed over 1,200 successful projects.

We invite you to learn more about our team or contact us today if you’d like to talk through your contact center challenges with one of our experts.

Thanks for reading!

4 Common Contact Center Challenges and How to Solve Them

In previous years, the contact center was seen as an operational necessity, an important but non-strategic wing of an organization. That has changed.

Customer experience (CX) is now understood to be among the most powerful differentiators for businesses today. Contact centers, and the technologies enabling them, now feature prominently in strategic decision making.

Many organizations know their current system for engaging with customers could be improved, but with new technologies, new vendors and new jargon seeming to appear every day, it’s difficult to determine the best place to start.

This blog will introduce four common contact center challenges you may be facing and show how four organizations overcame them.

Siloed Technologies

Silos are one of the great challenges facing contact centers today. A “silo” refers to a technology that is disconnected from the others.

Different departments acquire technology (billing system, dispatch system, WFM, etc.) based vendor strength, but they are not tied together, which hinders the ability to create smooth transitions between departments to support an end-to-end process. Data becomes siloed as the customer view is carved up between these systems. There is no master customer “system of record.”

The impact on the enterprise? Agents are forced to play the role of integrator, using multiple screens and numerous applications to resolve customer requests. Customer metrics sink due to the complexity of support. Agent turnover increases. Management lacks actionable insights into contact center events and trends. Maintenance costs rise, and rise, over time.

If technology silos are hurting your CX, the need for change is clear. The best course forward may not be.

Technology silos and process silos — you can have one, but you usually have both. Technology silos often lead to process silos.

See how SMART Technologies successfully overcame siloed systems and achieved a flawless customer experience without impacting their day-to-day operations.

Inflexible Infrastructure

Another common challenge facing contact centers is the use of inflexible, on-premise systems. Often requiring continual hardware upgrades and “quick fixes” to remain functional, these systems are the underlying cause of many of the silos mentioned above.

They also cause a heavy drain on the IT department’s resources, as more time is spent managing complexity than thinking strategically about where technology can create an advantage.

Many organizations dealing with inflexible infrastructure understand the benefits of migrating to a modern cloud contact center: minimum required investment to deploy, maintain and support; ease of managing multichannel communications; improved employee performance and CX; and the ability to adapt to changing business needs.

But there’s a natural resistance to change that stems from the fear of disrupting day-to-day operations.

See how a medical technology company with strict parameters seamlessly transitioned from an an end-of-life system to Salesforce to reduce maintenance and support costs, achieve unprecedented agent visibility and experience a 5X increase in order processing.

Introducing & Managing Multiple Channels

Customers demand more connected experiences than ever before. They expect to be able to communicate with you digitally, and expect you to provide a consistent journey across all touchpoints, whether they’re engaging in a web chat, texting or speaking to a representative by phone.

Many contact centers avoid adding digital channels because their legacy infrastructure won’t support it, and they don’t want to add new siloes to an already complex system. Others add digital channels, but struggle to integrate their data into the agent desktop so agents lack context and information on prior interactions.

Another difficulty related to managing multiple channels is integrating it properly with WFM systems, which makes it difficult to effectively forecast, plan and schedule agents across channels.

The end result of all these challenges — whether it’s a lack of channels or channels being poorly stitched together — is that you run the risk of customers churning to competitors that offer more consistent and personalized experiences.

See how a publicly traded financial services company with limited customer care channels and disconnected legacy technology turned their customer experience into an asset by introducing digital channels, modernizing their systems and optimizing the agent desktop.

Lack of Contact Center Visibility

Another harmful side effect of complex, siloed contact centers is that they hinder an organization’s ability to spot and resolve problems. Delivering consistent CX is a challenge; it’s near impossible if you can’t identify areas that need improvement.

Lacking a modern infrastructure, many organizations necessarily turn to the IT department to identify and fix problems with agents or operations, as they are the only ones with the technical know-how to navigate the system and manually analyze the log files. But dedicating IT resources to solve non-IT issues isn’t a sustainable solution.

See how a Fortune 500 transportation logistics company with the challenges above leveraged an operational analytics application to sift through massive amounts of data in minutes to identify and resolve issues, improve agent performance and achieve unprecedented visibility into their contact center operations.

About Aria Solutions

Aria Solutions is a customer engagement center solutions company that helps some of the world’s biggest organizations achieve unified customer engagement centers free of silos.

Over the past 22 years we have empowered 550,000 agents and completed over 1,200 successful projects, collaborating with our customers to help them achieve their business goals and find better ways to serve their customers.

Visit our about page to learn more about Aria Solutions or contact us today if you’d like guidance on how your organization can overcome your contact center challenges.

Thanks for reading!

Building a Fully-Integrated Contact Center with Amazon Connect and Salesforce

When AWS launched the Amazon Connect cloud-based contact center service, our breath was taken away by the power and the flexibility – making us quickly become one of the first APN partners and take part in creating new add-on functionality and services.

Having experience building customer engagement functionality in Salesforce that only supports digital channels, our team realized that Amazon Connect and its voice-based channel was a natural fit. So, this was the obvious first place for Aria to invest in to provide customers with a fully-integrated contact center.

Bridging the silos with pre-built components

No one wants to have their technology run in silos. By integrating both cloud-based solutions, organizations can:

  • Improve customer experiences by properly managing customer interactions across voice and digital channels
  • Improve employee productivity by automating tasks and reducing the number of screens they must use to handle customer interactions
  • Gain full visibility of how well the contact center is meeting customer demand

To make this happen fast with less effort and lower risk, Aria built two options:

1.  Free toolkit to try things out on your own

This is an advanced adapter that’s using Salesforce’s Open CTI, which brings Amazon’s Contact Control Panel right into Salesforce. The toolkit offers out-of-the-box integration between Salesforce and Amazon Connect, which is built on industry best practices. Agents can receive and control the calls and see customer information right within Salesforce – the same place where they handle digital channels.

As part of this integration, the toolkit migrates Amazon Connect call data into Salesforce, for all interaction data to reside in one place. Providing contact center managers with a clear view of their operations across all channels.

Other AWS applications that are often used in the contact center, such as Lex bot data, and transcriptions with Amazon Transcribe, are also made available right within Salesforce.

Not only does it provide some great features out-of-the-box, it’s also meant to be customizable and extensible, by giving you the rights to copy and modify almost all pieces of code to adjust the functionality to your own needs.

2.  More advanced, supported integration through Legato

Another option to consider is Aria’s Legato, which includes all the same functionality as the free toolkit plus a customizable softphone. It is a packaged and fully supported product that includes automatic upgrades and will soon be available on the Salesforce AppExchange.

This option lets organizations skip the internal development stage and go straight to a supported product – should that be the desired path.

Making your customer engagement center even more advanced

Aria has over 20 years of contact center experience and a depth of knowledge on how everything interconnects as a single solution.

If you want to add more functionality to improve customer and employee engagement in an efficient manner, here are some service options:

  • Setup of Amazon Connect
  • Voice and digital bots with Lex
  • Integration of industry-leading CRM and WFM tools
  • Advanced functionality provided by Amazon Connect partners, such as advanced sentiment analysis, dynamic phone numbers, fraud detection, and in-session SMS

To learn more about these options and what’s possible with Amazon Connect contact us to talk to our experts!