Richard Mill from Business Systems looks at why achieving a blended solution is a business imperative for all customer-facing businesses…
As UK businesses continue to undergo the wide-ranging evolution referred to as Digital Transformation, in many cases they are having to contend with the fact that their customers are well ahead of them. Thanks to mobile, ecommerce, social media and the variety of choice available online, consumers and businesses expect to be able to get what they want, when they want, and how they want it. And the service had better be A+, otherwise your brand will be taking the hit from a bad review on Trustpilot, and complaints will be circulating on Twitter.
This context is almost certainly why 75% of business leaders rank improving customer experience as a top strategic priority for their company. In today’s ultra-competitive, non-stop world of rapidly evolving technologies and multiplying digital channels, the old rules for how you deliver an outstanding customer experience no longer apply. New circumstances demand a radical rethink about the way service is provided. With stakes getting raised ever higher, the old distinctions between front and back office – the traditional way customers are serviced, with a contact centre and a back-end process – may be getting in the way of providing service that can keep up with demand.
Barriers between the customer-facing and process-controlling parts of your organisation
The reality is that responsibility for the customer experience can no longer be isolated within a single segment of the business: it requires all departments to be working in harmony with the highest value placed on delivering fast, efficient, hassle-free service that keeps the customer happy. This is why ‘workforce optimisation’ (WFO) might prove useful to you and your organisation.
Why? Because the benefits of workforce optimisation centre on encouraging customer loyalty and repeat business through true operational excellence. The more streamlined, integrated and waste-free your processes are, the more costs you can cut, the more productive everything is. It is also far easier to track the full customer journey, and see where you could profit from tweaking it. Most people in the field call this ‘workforce blending’ – breaking down the last barriers between the customer-facing and process-controlling parts of your organisation.
An Ovum study into the future role of the back office, for instance, has recently highlighted the benefits of having such technology which automates scheduling, manages output and reports on performance – the very benefits WFO offers in the contact centre, from making resource allocation more efficient, to informing continued professional development (CPD) programmes. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that adoption of WFO technologies in the back office represents a major step forward in the quest for delivering better CX (Customer Experience) and improving business efficiency simultaneously, and in a fashion you can control and monitor.
On the tech side, there are fewer obstacles
It turns out that a proposed blending of front and back office isn’t a new phenomenon, but is one that businesses appear to have ignored to their detriment. Back in 2017, the International Customer Management Institute found, for instance, that applying workforce optimisation techniques to the back office could be so useful it should actually be viewed as a business necessity.
Many businesses, however, have not attempted a blended approach because of what they see as its innate challenges – and we do need to be realistic and acknowledge that there are some. These are cultural and structural, but are genuinely not complicated to overcome. Aligning specific sets of performance objectives, process approaches and skills, for example, is a question of having the right change management capabilities: you need to work with your HR team to ensure your people have the right skills and training to blend seamlessly into any new identified job roles.
On the technology side, there are fewer obstacles. Seek out technology that has an open interoperable architecture, and is built for rapid, straightforward deployment across multiple systems at once. It should also be designed to accommodate the full complexity of the back office, while functionality above your standard WFO suite capability, such as advanced analytics and robotic process automation, is also desirable.
So there are some roadblocks to overcome to become a fully, digitally transformed business, but workforce optimisation is a way to help you address them all – and also manage the interactions and marshal the resources you will need to be able to respond to consumer service expectations in the best way possible.
Author: Richard Mill is Managing Director of Business Systems (UK) Ltd, a specialist for 30 years in providing call recording and workforce optimisation solutions