Implementations can take months if not properly planned, but setting up an omnichannel inbound call center can take one to two weeks with forethought and preparation. Depending on the size of your company and level of technology already in place, plan to spend a minimum of three weeks planning the changeover before moving into setup phase. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you formulate your game plan.

Interdepartmental process review

 Begin the changeover by polling managers and staff on their level of satisfaction with the current call handling and customer service process. Also review all available data on customer satisfaction when they interact with your company. Any new software implementation is a chance for process improvements, so seek out honest opinions and solutions from the people in the trenches every day. Review the current process for incoming emails, webchats, SMS texts, and social media responses as well, because this will all be included in your contact center implementation process. 

Process flowcharts

 Review or set up a process flowchart of how various representatives and departments handle specific types of contact. Consistency and efficiency are critical components for high levels of customer satisfaction — especially when it comes to returns, refunds, or repairs. Design your process with the fewest steps and data entry possible so that people can quickly move through tasks to better assist new customers.

 Do you want to have specialists, or do you want everyone to have generally equal ability to handle a wide range of issues? Keep in mind the impact that vacations and illnesses may have on your process and ensure you have adequate backups in place. What will trigger escalation of a customer service issue to a manager? Discuss the proper level of empowerment to provide to frontline staff to reduce the need to transfer calls or keep customers on the line, and weigh customer satisfaction against bottom-line profits.

Reduce paperwork

 The number of companies still using a paper process for the flow of communication, such as handwritten messages, printed communications and memos, is still astonishingly high. Now is the time to review the use of paper in your office and resolve to store and communicate data within your cloud-based system whenever possible. This increases transparency and enables staff members across all departments to provide a seamless, efficient customer service experience.

 This may require creating digital forms or creating custom fields in your software to capture critical information. It will also require incentives to encourage employees to change entrenched behaviors. Enforce your new paperless processes by openly discussing those metrics in a positive and rewarding manner rather than focusing on a disciplinary approach. 

Think like a help desk

 If you aren’t already using a help desk ticket-style system, imagine that every incoming contact is a request for help, and by the time your representative is finished communicating with the customer, there should be a clear resolution and disposition. Companies that aren’t tracking metrics for how many issues were resolved on the first contact attempt, the average length of time for the issue to be resolved, etc., need to begin contemplating acceptable metrics and setting department goals.

 Designate a point person at your company to analyze and disseminate the data that will be available once your omnichannel cloud center goes live. The data can tell you the most common reasons for customer contact to help your customer service department move toward proactive solutions. Metrics will also provide management and staff opportunities for continual improvement of your internal process and team skills. Set aside a weekly time to review metrics and goals, provide extra training, and iron out any process issues.

Managing the changeover

A well-managed implementation usually happens in phases and involves extra help. Investigate hiring temps or pulling in staff members from other departments to assist with workload while your employees in your first group (usually those who will be tasked with training others) learn the new system. Don’t expect your employees to maintain the same volume of work while also investigating and problem-solving during your implementation. Managing workload during the changeover is just as important for employee morale and well-being as it is for maintaining a high degree of customer service.

 With an omnichannel system, you don’t need to switch over all points of contact at the same time. You can roll out an initial changeover with just the phone system first, enabling your training staff to become comfortable with the system while business continues as usual through email, webchat, and social media. This can provide extra time to hammer out process improvements for the whole system.

 Your employees are a valuable resource, and the people completing the work every day can give valuable insights on your process. By requesting and incorporating as much feedback as possible during the planning stage, you can avoid unpleasant surprises and make a smoother software transition.