Successful migration to a consolidated communications infrastructure begins and ends with successful communication. This sounds like a simple statement, but it carries with it many layers of complexity.
Internal communications, the lifeblood of any organisation, is the first mission-critical factor. It should incorporate staff at every level, from security workers through to maintenance, marketing and those operating at executive level. While companies believe they are on the right internal communications track, anyone working regularly within the space will be able to testify how many still get this basic idea very wrong.
The challenge of 21st century business is to ensure that every staff member can answer high level strategic question, such as what is the company strategy? Why is the brand positioned in the way it is? If they can, the brand is assured that it is operating as a dynamic entity, which is accurately represented at each touch point. Equally, a strong internal communications platform allows the company to communicate any technical details, by simply extending an ongoing brand conversation, rather than forcing employees to pay attention to things that may or may not relate to their daily tasks. The sturdier the platform, the easier it will be to deal with technical matters that may arise in the migration process.
A more frequent discussion point is the idea of the fail-over – a notion that is difficult to separate from the technical specifics of a particular system. Having ‘strong fail-overs in place’ essentially means that should the new system fail, an alternative can seamlessly be brought online without any operational disruptions. However, this ability is largely dictated by system architecture. When, for example, a system relies on between 20 and 35 servers, a fail-over guarantee puts in place a secondary system, with a similar number of servers. Not only is this very expensive, but it can be an operational nightmare.
If the system is rooted in an all-in-one architecture, strong fail-overs will be a certainty. If not, only those with large budgets will truly be able to guarantee strong fail-overs.
Contact centre agent training is another key point to consider in the migration process. Many organisations treat agent training as a once-off intervention rather than the essential ongoing process. If this is the case, agent training will be a crucial and complex part of system migration. However, if the organisation maintains an ongoing training process, it should be able to comfortably manage the training involved in shifting to a new system.
And so we return to the vitality of communication, this time emphasising customer communication, which simply has to be effective if the business is to succeed. Even with respect to functional customer communication, such as overdue account notifications. In today’s fragmented communication economy, a simple ‘you owe us money’ notice that doesn’t offer easy accessible action channels ultimately, hurts the brand and the business.
In the realm of communication systems evolution, customer communication is complex and challenging. It’s tempting, and many organisations make the mistake, to decide at board room level how to evolve the communication platform. Typically, this approach sees the brand introducing new channels (SMS or Facebook) and then announcing the change to customers. At best, such brands ask leading questions of their customers designed to deliver answers that agree with decisions already taken in the boardroom. This method may suit the decision makers, but it’s a sure-fire way to cut the company off from customers. And will without doubt limit the brand’s ability to compete with more insightful and committed rivals.
The bottom line is that any change in communication systems must be customer centric, if it is really going to be effective. The brand therefore needs to engage with customers on a regular basis, and frame these conversations in a way that will reveal as much as possible about customer needs and wants. Only on the basis of this kind of ongoing brand conversation will the company be able to objectively assess how to evolve new communication channels.
While many organisations draw a clear line between internal and external communications, there is in actual fact a very predominant link between the two. Those able to identify that link and adapt to it, often generally prove to be the most technically advanced in the highly competitive service landscape. Not only do they utilise every opportunity to continue the brand conversation with employees and customers, they also ensure that the insights gained from their security guard at the customer walk-in centre are given as much consideration as those offered by major clients.
When this kind of communication integration exists, evolving communication infrastructure to meet the company’s needs is a matter of logic, and holds few of the costs and operational nightmares many assume to be part and parcel of the process.
Karl Reed, Elingo Chief Marketing and Solutions Officer