The HotLine Magazine Archives
For The Profession of Cloud/SaaS Product Support
By Mikael Blaisdell

Implementation firms specializing in contact center technology tools have learned to be very particular about documenting the exact specifications of what the customer has requested. The contracts clearly state that while the implementers are of course willing to make whatever changes the customer desires anywhere in the process, those changes are not included in the quoted price or schedule. Implementation contracting can be a very profitable business. Unfortunately, in the end, it’s not hard at all for the customer to find themselves paying far more for the implementation than they did for the software licenses, or to end up with a failed implementation. That’s not the fault of the implementation company. They typically delivered what was requested. The problem is more likely found at the customer end of the deal.

Avoiding A Recipe For Failure

There are several factors that can contribute to an over-budget or failure scenario. One is the pursuit of technology for its own sake. When all of the glitter and promise of the technology is on display, it’s too easy for the center management’s design team to say “we need this, and that, and two of those” without testing those “needs” or thinking through the effects that they will bring.  A classic example is when the team requests an elaborate system of alerts and notifications for a new case management system. The original intent, to make sure that customer issues don’t get lost or overlooked by the Support/Service team, was good. However, the designers didn’t take the staffing realities of the center into account or accurately forecast the likely volume of alert traffic. Shortly after the system goes live, the center is paralyzed with a deluge of too much information and is forced to shut the alert system down. All of the cost of that customization turns into a loss when you turn it off, on top of an additional expense for shutting it down. It doesn’t take very many such mistakes to significantly exceed the budget for an implementation project.

The purpose of the contact center technology suite is to keep the operation of the center in alignment with company’s overall profitability goals. Unfortunately, in too many companies, the design team doesn’t have that strategic framework. Their purview is strictly limited to immediate operational factors of case management and the knowledge inventory.

The role of Senior Management doesn’t end with approving the budget for the purchase of contact center technology. Nor does it start there. The true beginning of a vendor/technology selection project is a clear, financially measurable statement of Management’s strategic expectations of the contact center’s contribution to the overall corporate goals. Once the decision has been made to buy a particular tool, follow-through is required to ensure that you ask for and get what you need from the investment.

November 6, 2007