It Was Time to Launch a New Channel, So Here's What I Did

Learn about launching a new contact center channel. See why you’ve got to think about people, process, and technology before you start.

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.

Sarah G., Contact Center Director

We contact center directors who’ve been around the headsets and Purell pumps long enough know we need to launch a new channel every now and again.

But new isn't always better, right? I mean, new leather? Newfound cousins? Quibi? 

But sometimes it's way better, and that’s when you’ve got to figure out how to get ready.

How Many Folks Do You Give?

First thing I thought about when launching a new channel: people. A team with the chops to take on the customers the new channel would bring.

These agents needed to be smart. They needed to grasp the tools fast. Know the limitations. The objectives.

So my cousin Rick was out.

But I would have the rest of my team practice with it. Deliberate practice would help weed out the rest of those who weren’t quite right for it. I even asked my agents to practice switching channels on the fly. That was to get them ready for when, for example, a conversation starts on chat but has to continue over the phone.

Don’t like the new channel? No sweat. I told my team that if they gave it a fair shot and hated it, I’d reassign them. Get them back on a channel they loved. No worries.

 

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Action Sequence

Next thing I thought about: process.

If you're like me, you know what it's like spending a little time managing queues and quality contacts in a new channel, and a lot of time explaining why you're ignoring the other channels and can't prove the new one’s success. 

That’s something old-me would do in the past and now-Rick would still do. 

So I not only spelled out formal guidelines for queues and contacts in this new channel, I set time-to-respond service targets for all the channels, based on the customer expectations we've observed and the personal experiences we had during our practice sessions. I dropped those guidelines in the CRM alongside the customer records so things would stay consistent no matter which channel an agent used. And when an agent used an old channel to resolve a request that started in a new channel? I made a process for tracking that, too.

Tech Yourself Before You …

And then the last thing I thought about: technology.

That's something I’d never thought about when adding a new channel before: Even. More. Technology.

I made sure the tools that supported our existing channels supported our new channel every bit as much.

Like, say, our virtual receptionist's automated after-hours message—the new channel would need its own version of that.

Or, say, our skills-based routing API—I'd need to assign new tags to the agents who ended up sticking with the new channel and didn't take me up on that if-you-hate-it-I'll-reassign-you bit.

This would not only reduce customer wait time and ensure my contact center operated as efficiently as possible, it would guarantee that Rick would never ever be asked to handle a customer in the new channel—even in a pinch. And that’s all I really cared about.

You’d understand if you met him. Two minutes and you’d be like, “No.”

Don't worry if after you read this you're unsure about launching a new channel and need time to think. Unlike handshakes and side parts and Dick Van Dyke, that new channel’s category probably won’t retire anytime soon.

But remember, the sooner you launch that new channel, the sooner you'll be delighting your customers and agents in a whole new way. In fact, I’ve got a team with so many happy faces now, I had us all pose for a group picture. I had Rick take it.

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