May 5, 2016
Years ago, I worked at a large customer service vendor. Our CEO had tasked us to "eat our own dog food" – that is implement our own solutions for our customer service operations which comprised of 40 or so tier 1 and 2 customer service agents. With these marching orders, I put a group of consultants and business analysts together to get this done. And after several months, the project stalled; got restarted; stalled again; then finally died. We limped on with our old systems in place for many more years.
Why did this project fail? It was because of a mismatch between the complexities of the solution that we were trying to implement, and the company's business needs. The customer service company that I worked for made enterprise software solutions, suitable for large organizations, which was typically implemented in call centers of many hundreds, if not thousands of call center agents. These solutions offered robust case management, with very customizable workflows, queuing and routing rules. These solutions also offered complex knowledge management, email and chat engines that could support millions of interactions a month. Implementation tended to span many months, where professional services consultants dove into the business processes that agents followed, and then reproduced them in these enterprise solutions.
Yet these solutions – as powerful as there are – were too complex for our simple needs. There were no simple "out of the box" best practice process flows. There were no rapid deployment options to get a company up and running quickly. There were no simple ways of setting up FAQs or simple knowledge, or creating simple email and chat routing rules for a moderate volume of digital interactions. What we needed was a highly usable solution, with a quick time-to-value, which contained just the most common functions of the enterprise solution.
What does this mean? Customer service technology buyers must remember that more is not better; many times more is just more. In fact, when you don't need, or can't use, extra features, more is sometimes worse. Be cognizant that customer service solutions fall into two primary groups to choose from: customer service solutions for enterprise organizations, and customer service solutions for smaller organizations. We've highlighted the leading vendors in our most recent two waves. Make sure you understand the breadth of your needs before focusing on one of these solutions.