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Continued progress in reinventing the relationship between people and technology.

Part 3: The digitization of customer service

As digital channels such as text and web continue to proliferate, customer service organizations need to assess their readiness to accommodate this shift. Here is one framework that businesses can use to evaluate if they’re primed to take on the digital world.
As customers increasingly expect to be able to interact with businesses on a variety of channels, companies must evaluate whether they’re ready for the shift to digital.

In the first two posts in this series, I discussed how customer service interactions are becoming increasingly focused on digital channels. This shift is becoming more profound as the number of digital channels proliferate and so businesses must understand how this wave of digitization will impact the customer journey and their customer service strategy. For the contact center, three key considerations for success in this digitized environment include: driving customer satisfaction holistically across all channels, preparing for new types of fraudulent activity and leveraging the massive amounts of data that will be generated to create new success metrics and measure business results in the contact center.

But in order to reap the benefits of digitization, contact centers must first assess their readiness to be successful. One high-level perspective for assessing readiness is by evaluating what I call the ‘Digital Adoption Profile’ (DAP) as described by the following graphic:


Measuring your contact center on its ability to adapt to change relative to its risk tolerance and willingness to innovate can be enlightening. If you find your organization is rigid and inflexible, and the willingness to innovate is low, the road to success in a digitized world may be difficult. Contrarily, if your organization is highly adaptable, and your risk tolerance and willingness to innovate is high, chances are success in a digitized world may come a bit easier. Knowing which quadrant your organization falls into can at least be a first step to understanding what needs to be done to create a pathway toward a successful journey into a digitized customer service world.

In order to effectively understand where your organization fits in this grid, you’ll need a process to quantify your placement on each axis.


Evaluating risk tolerance

Evaluating risk tolerance can be a somewhat subjective exercise, however asking a few key questions can help quantify the answer. For example, in order to meet business goals in a digitized world, is your company willing to:

  • Risk potential financial loss?
  • Assume risk for negative media coverage?
  • Accommodate the increased possibility of litigation?
  • Risk increased employee turnover or lower morale?
  • Potentially miss key metric and business results?
  • Be viewed as a laggard/late adopter by your customer base?

Rate these on a scale from 1-5 (where 1 is “No way, we would never risk that,” to 5 being, “Absolutely, we would take that risk”) and average the results. An average of 1 to 2 puts you in the “Low” bucket, 4 to 5 places you in the “High” bucket, and a 3 is a toss-up to go either way. You can look back on prior decisions the organization has made to provide insight into how these questions might be answered. And of course, you can add additional risk factors that might also be relevant for your contact center and rate those as well.


Measuring adaptability in an organization

Follow a similar process for measuring your organization’s ability to adapt and be flexible given changing business conditions. You might start by asking the following:

  • Is your organization open to change given new information?
  • Does your organization rapidly adapt to new information, changing conditions, or unexpected obstacles?
  • Is rigid adherence to plans standard operating procedure, or do plans change as conditions change?
  • Are new approaches to solving problems typically incorporated into business processes?

You get the idea. Once you’ve gone through this exercise, you’ll have a better feel for which quadrant your organization falls into. From there, your business can understand what actions may need to be taken to overcome any obstacles that prevent your contact center from fully taking advantage of the shift to digital.

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James Mastan

About James Mastan

James Mastan is Director of Solutions Marketing in the Nuance Enterprise division, and has over twenty years of high-tech marketing experience. Previously, James held various marketing leadership positions at Microsoft and more recently founded and ran a marketing consulting company and a mobile application start-up company.