As the technology around contact centres starts to change, so too do the things we must do to support them. No longer is a managed service about maintaining and patching physical infrastructure and less-emphasis required on configuring convoluted software systems. Anyone who continues to target their managed services in this space will start to see their market rapidly shrink.
As with traditional IT, managed service providers of contact solutions will need to re-invent themselves. Rather than trying to protect what they have, they must understand what is important to a customer in a cloud world. Systems will become increasingly ‘self-service’, and customers will want to take advantage of this, but they will require training and support to do so. However, this still isn’t where the real value of a managed service lies... the key is to understand what a move to the cloud enables organisations to do.
Firstly, it will free up budget. Any migration to the cloud that is combined with proper transformation plans, will likely see a reduction in costs. This is especially true when doing away with physical infrastructure and the costs required to support it. Some customers will be happy to see this as a cost reduction and call it a day, but many will, rightly, identify an opportunity to reinvest and improve.
Secondly, the agility offered by the cloud opens countless opportunities that were simply impossible in an old school environment. Organisations can start looking seriously at innovation, without worrying about long, drawn out and expensive projects that may or may not pay off. This is especially true when implementing strong DevOps practices, utilising Infrastructure as code to automate the deployment and changes of your environments.
Thirdly, the cloud offers flexibility. You no longer need to be located where all the hardware is. Remote agents have become the norm, which means it becomes easier to manage shift patterns that lead to a more effective workforce and contribute to improved staff retention. Different methodologies and technologies are needed to manage this landscape, but when done effectively, it allows organisations much more freedom.
Once this is understood, it becomes easy to see that there is a huge opportunity to help customers continually improve. By unlocking the potential of the platforms; manage service providers can use advanced analytics to routinely monitor key KPI’s and data points in order to help customers understand where their biggest opportunities lie. Once an opportunity is identified, they can then help organisations define a solution that, not only offers an effective technical solution, but also offers the best customer experience. This can then be iteratively built into the platform and improved incrementally.
What will be required is a shift in culture and mindset of organisations, who are used to 5-year procurement cycles and a system that, once implemented, remains largely static. However, once this mentality is achieved, they will realise incrementally improving their platform always produces far greater cost savings, revenue generation and a lot less pain. They will always be on the forefront of technology, offering their customers best in breed experience whilst gaining competitive advantage in a future that consists of an ever increasingly demanding public.
What is required to achieve this is a managed service provider who understands not only the contact space but who is also an expert in customer experience and has deep experience with cloud technologies. Additionally, it needs to be underpinned by extensive DevOps practices to ensure that any evolving environment can be updated and maintained efficiently, thereby maintaining a pace that allows customers to disrupt their markets.
So, what does that mean for your contact strategy? No longer will you make that 5 to 7-year commitment to inflexible technology, nor will you make a commitment to a provider/partner who believes this is the best way forward. You’ll commit, for the long term, to a cloud ecosystem (Amazon Connect in this case) that is able to evolve, grow and shrink as your business and your customers demand it.
Instead you’ll forge a partnership with a managed service organisation that will own the integrations, give you the assurance, support, availability, flexibility, experience that is incredibly difficult and costly to maintain internally but massively beneficial when provided by a trusted partner who makes you think differently and makes you ask the hard questions of your own organisation. This is where you’ll go on the journey from your “voice of the customer” data to outcome driven initiatives with easy ROI cases to make.
We constantly see and hear from large businesses that believe cloud contact services like Amazon Connect offer self-service to such an extent that you no longer need a managed service partner but all of them have now recognised that they need a different kind of partner that gives them the confidence to provide agile, bleeding edge, customer experience but without the burden of managing a direct relationship with every member of the ecosystem deployed (and the differing support and commercial models that may bring).
Amazon Connect and all the different organisations which make it such a rich customer contact platform are, and will continue to be, a game changer…but align yourself with the wrong partner and the game changing outcomes may not be so obvious. Look at the managed service as the enabler and not just a cost to bear and the benefits you didn’t know existed will become apparent.