Start Building Your Contact Center
After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
- Evaluate your contact center location.
- Set up your knowledge base.
- Explain the importance of testing before launching your contact center.
Getting a contact center up and running smoothly in as little as 6 weeks takes some pre-work and planning. We’ve learned a lot from doing this at Dreamforce, and these insights can help you set up your contact center quickly. In this unit, you learn how to devise a smart plan for your contact center, including what to consider, what questions to ask, and what to anticipate so you can build your contact center on a solid foundation without any delays.
Being clear about your goals for the new contact center is key to the planning process. Start by asking the following questions. Keep in mind, your goal is to clarify your objectives before you start your build.
- What does your contact center need to accomplish for your business?
- Is this an extension of existing customer service or is it brand-new?
- Is the contact center temporary or is it permanent?
- How many customers will you need to serve?
- How many agents will you need to staff it?
- Which channels will you operate in?
- Will your contact center be inbound only or both inbound and outbound?
- How much time do you have to set it up?
- Can you reach your goals with your existing budget? If not, what more do you need?
Let the answers to these questions guide your planning. Doing this exercise will also help you determine what you want to do and what’s possible for you given your financial constraints. For Dreamforce 2018, we knew before we got started that we’d have 15 agents and 6–8 weeks to set up, it would be inbound only, and it would cover the full spectrum of channels (voice, text, email, chat, self-service, bots) to handle inquiries from a group of 170,000 over 4 days. Running through the questions before we started planning allowed us to find the ideal space for our contact center—and make a business case for the space that we needed. This exercise also helped us identify something else we needed to plan for: making sure outside visitors didn’t disrupt agents who were working to provide top-notch service to attendees.
When you set up a new contact center, consider the space you’re choosing and how it will impact the productivity of the contact center. For example, if it’s in a temporary location at a tech conference and situated near a hub of activity, it might not be quiet enough for agents to have conversations with customers. If it’s in a permanent location without a lot of natural light, this could affect agent morale over the long term. These are just a couple of things to consider.
At Dreamforce 2018 we converted a conference room. Since they come in all sizes and shapes, we needed to have our requirements in advance in order to pick the right room. If you’re using existing office space, make sure it’s optimized for your needs. Think about how you might have to reconfigure or grow in the space over time. If you’re moving into a new space, make sure the space is conducive to customer service. The space should be quiet and able to accommodate the number of phone lines and staff you’re expecting to use. Some companies need a lab space where agents can get hands-on training to learn how products work. Spaces like this also enable agents to troubleshoot issues with products. Depending on your business, you may want a mix of cubicle spaces and collaborative spaces.
We believe a knowledge base serves as the backbone of every contact center. In the previous unit, we talked about how we used a template to set up our self-service knowledge base quickly at Dreamforce. If you have an existing knowledge base full of articles and it’s ready to go in Service Cloud, be sure to make it available in the agent console so agents can search for answers without having to swivel between databases.
Whenever possible, repurpose existing content for your knowledge base to get a quick head start. If your knowledge base articles are in another system, or in a binder, or need updating, make note of where all the information is and how you will adapt it for use in your new contact center. Collecting answers to all the typical customer questions found in a knowledge base can take a while. Begin developing your knowledge base during the planning stages of your contact center to ensure all the articles are ready by the time you go live and your agents are ready to help customers.
In the weeks leading up to Dreamforce, we tasked a team with updating an older knowledge base, changing 2017 dates to our 2018 dates, updating locations, and so on. If your knowledge base doesn’t exist yet, start by creating basic elements like FAQs and go from there. Consider how you’ll keep your knowledge base up to date before you launch your contact center. You could even develop a workflow to accomplish this. As new questions arise, add the answers to your knowledge base. Just make sure you have a process in place that allows you to amend it easily.
In this digital era, customer service is only as good as the technology that supports it. When bots work properly, customers won’t need to call in as often, freeing up agents to handle more complex issues.
In the lead-up to Dreamforce 2018, we did rigorous testing. We blitzed our bot with questions, which gave us the chance to experience it from a customer perspective. We had 15 people in a room pretending to be attendees who needed service. The bot had access to a scaled down knowledge base with key snippets of information. We tested the bot, asking it common questions a customer might have, and recorded its answers. By firing random questions at the bot, we were able to find most of the anomalies and missing bits of information and address them before we went live.
To ensure your contact center launches successfully, stress test all your systems (get a group to act as customers and start chats, open knowledge articles, and question bots) as much as possible throughout the process. Finally, test your physical environment as well. You may find that chat teams need to be seated closer together because of the way they help each other resolve cases. Let’s say your company sells cars, for example. The team that handles registrations for cars should probably sit next to the new customer onboarding team so that those two teams can easily talk about any issues that arise. Seating charts, cubicles, and security all need to be assessed before day one to make sure your teams have a smooth transition to their new office environment..
To recap, here’s a quick setup checklist for your contact center.
- Identify your objectives.
- Choose the right space.
- Create your content.
- Test and retest your tech.
Getting a contact center up and running quickly is the result of careful planning. Now that you understand how to lay the groundwork, you’re ready to staff your contact center. In the next unit, you learn how to identify the people who will help you bring your contact center to life.