The problem with many organization’s customer engagement architectures is that they have been built up over time. As new channels have been added they have created a ‘spaghetti architecture’ built-up of applications, rules engines, routing platforms and databases. These are often in ‘channel’ silos, unstructured and difficult to deliver, operate and manage. You know how it is, your business had a PBX and/or ACD to manage your calls and then you needed a dialer so you went and bought one, perhaps from your PBX/ACD vendor, perhaps not. Then customers wanted to use email so you started using Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes but soon it got too difficult to manage so you procured an Email Response Management system (ERMS) perhaps with knowledge management; which of course did not come from your PBX/ACD vendor, after all this is an IT system not telephony! Next you launched your web self-service platform justified by the savings in the call center as people would serve themselves but the number of calls didn’t reduce because customers still needed assisted service, in-fact they were more frustrated because they’d had to change channels! So you started to look at keeping the customers ‘in-channel’ by offering web chat or co-browsing with a solution; good for a low effort customer experience. This probably added another platform or vendor as this was for the On-line team. Finally Marketing got into using Social Media to promote your products or services so they wanted tools to monitor and measure Social Media but this was not customer service. But customers started to try and use it to get assistance, probably because they couldn’t get through on other channels. That’s not what Marketing expected or wanted so they had to keep redirecting these customers to Customer Service or try and answer the questions without the right systems. What they really needed was another system to monitor, engage and resolve these customer service needs. This ‘evolutionary’ approach has unfortunately lead many businesses to develop an architecture where customer contacts live in both business and technology silos. Where there are multiple rules systems and routing engines and where information about customers and their contacts with the company is spread across multiple systems and databases, if it is kept at all. At best the in-channel experience from the assisted service is consistent and repeatable but it is almost impossible to manage the customers’ experience across channels. This spaghetti architecture will lead to confusion for the customer and the employees as the whole customer contact picture cannot be seen. It cannot be used to deliver a consistent and personalized experience. The cost of owning this environment is also significantly higher due to the number of vendors to manage, platforms to build, rules and routing to deal with and the complex integration needed to get a true ‘cross-channel’ view and not just a multi-channel ‘silo farm’ The alternative to all of this complexity is what I call a ‘Lasagne architecture’. It has neat functional layers that have responsibility across the customer engagement environment, a single ‘platform’ where you:
- Author and maintain the rules that determine the customer service experience in each contact channel.
- Make routing decisions that knows about the skills and competencies of all employees that can handle a customer contact, which ever channel it comes through – voice, email, web, social media even letters and forms that have been scanned.
- Hold customer context information that is relevant to delivering the customer experience in every contact channel.
- Single ‘virtual’ queue of work that can be allocated to the right skilled associate at the right moment based on customer context and resource planning
- Manage to the interactions on the advisor’s desktop.
- Integrate data for delivering a consistent customer experience
- Connect in new channels as they become available to deliver customer service – Social Media, Mobile Apps, Video Calling etc.
- Report on and manage performance, both in real-time and historically
A service orientated architecture approach to orchestrating the customer engagement. By using a single ‘platform’ for managing the customer contact with centralized rules management and routing engine the customer experience can be consistently maintained across and between all channels and at the same time the total cost of owning and managing it can be reduced. This approach will bring benefits to the business by improving the customer experience especially as customers transfer between channels, it will make the operational management of customer engagement more efficient by using appropriate data to manage the process and it will lower the total cost of ownership by removing duplication, system development and operational administration. When it comes to Italian food I enjoy both spaghetti and lasagne but when it comes to the customer engagement world, for me it’s got to be the ‘lasagne architecture’ every time. Start to transform your contact center into a Customer Experience Center, download eBook, 7 Drivers for Buying an Integrated Contact Center Suite