When companies are in the process of choosing a new cloud contact center product, beyond the normal due diligence of comparing vendors’ products to their requirements and doing a cost-benefit analysis, they often overlook the issue of future change. This can potentially cause serious business or technical challenges down the road. Let’s look at why considering change is so important for your business, how it affects your product decision and a simple way to mitigate its risk to your business.
Why Change Is So Important
Just the other day I was re-reading Alvin Toffler’s seminal book, Future Shock. In the introduction there is a sentence that seems to accurately describe what business leaders are facing today: “…the roaring current of change, a current so powerful that it overturns institutions…”. And it was published in 1970! Just think about how businesses have changed since then, as a result of innovation in products and technology. Also, according to Forbes magazine, the rate of change is increasing.1
As a key part of an organization, contact centers are often greatly affected by change. Take for example the convergence of mobile phones and the internet and how, together, they have revolutionized interactions that are processed via websites, chat, SMS and social media, to name just a few examples. At the same time, contact center organizations are being impacted by increasing customer expectations, agent retention challenges, the after-effects of Covid, internal process and IT system changes, new product announcements, competitive pressure and much more. And then there is the elephant in the room – artificial intelligence.
Factors That Affect Your Product Selection
How much does change affect your product selection? It could be a lot or a little, depending on three factors.
Rate of Organizational Change
The rate of change in your organization is the first and most important factor. If your company has a culture of change or there is an expectation of a lot of future change, then selecting the most feature-rich and flexible (I’ll refer to this as “more capable”) product would be the best course of action. The reason is the exact type of change typically cannot be predicted (Mr. Toffler likely didn’t forecast the concept of the internet and, even if he did, exactly how it would affect businesses). Essentially, it means you’ll need to have a platform that allows you to “build tomorrow what you haven’t thought of today”.
Time-Frame to Product Obsolescence
The second factor is the new product’s estimated lifespan within your organization. Essentially, it’s how long you want the product to last before it may become obsolete, due to changes you didn’t foresee (this type of obsolescence happens more frequently with cloud contact center products than many customers realize).
The first thing to do is determine the minimum amount of time you want the product to last. That answer could be based on your business case time-frame or other factors, such as your finance team’s standards.
Once you know that time-frame, you can evaluate how change may come into play. For example, if you want to have the product last the length of time of your business case and you are confident you know all the important changes that will occur in that time-frame, then choosing a more capable product than you need may not be important.
On the other hand, if you do not have a good understanding of the changes that may occur in your business case time-frame, then it would be wise to investigate the risk and high-level effort and cost associated with having to switch platforms prematurely. This information should be factored into your evaluation process.
Ability to Say Yes to Management
The last factor is political. Everyone knows that managers typically don’t like to hear the word “no” when they want action to be taken. For example, let’s say a new Chief Executive Officer has joined your company and they want to initiate some type of important change. How comfortable are you with being part of the team that has to say no if your contact center platform can’t properly accommodate it? By selecting a more capable product, by extension, there is a greater chance you will be able to say “yes” in that situation.
Hedge for Change
In the end, if you think change may be important but you’re just not sure how much impact it could have on your operation, hedging for change is a good approach to consider. This is how it works.
Typically, more capable products cost more than less capable ones. So, for example, if you have to pay a 10-20% premium for a more capable product, then even if you don’t need the product based on your defined requirements, it may be worthwhile selecting it anyway. This is to reduce the risk and associated cost of having to switch products down the road as a result of unplanned changes. Essentially you would be buying “insurance” as your hedge (which does not include any costs and benefits that may be possible to achieve with additional features the platform offers).
In summary, change is increasingly becoming a more predominant factor affecting contact centers. That’s why it needs to be a key consideration when selecting a cloud contact center product.
About the Author
Jamie Coutts has been working in management, sales and solution consulting roles with contact center technology vendors for over 30 years. He is currently Vice President, Client Development, of Star Telecom, a leading cloud contact center and telecom services provider.