Guest writer: Nerys Corfield – Director, Injection Consulting
As I told the audience at the Puzzel Get Connected Event in September, using the leader of the Transformers, Optimus Prime, to consider the parallels with Contact Centre Transformation failure is not a cheap ill-thought-out analogy – in fact, as I hope the below proves, it’s rather genius.
Transformation in most businesses is really hard work and to embark on a conscious journey that will deliver positive change takes a concerted effort. With so many transformations failing what can understanding Optimus Prime (who elegantly moves from a being a robot to a fine-looking truck) teach us…
For those not familiar with the construct of Optimus Prime – he has three component parts/modules:
- A sentient robot module “The Brain Centre” – this is the part that has the ability to feel, to process emotion – wanted like happiness and joy, or unwanted like frustration and anguish – so for the purposes of this analogy let’s call this ‘The Contact Centre’ or ‘Customer Service Hub’
- A wheeled drone module “Roller” – this is the Cybertronian reconnaissance drone – an independent function who isn’t down on the ground every day but gains strategic insights and determines the best path forward – The C-Suite.
- A Combat Deck – this is the part of Optimus which houses all the important tools that are needed – it has the artillery and radiation beams weapons; a highly dexterous grapple arm and the communication disk antenna – this module is, of course, the IT department.
Now interestingly, and as reflected in the reality of many businesses, these different modules can survive without each other – but not for long. When one of Optimus’ modules gets hurt then the others feel it. To be effective with a Transformation the three modules must work closely together and appreciate the value each one brings.
Before considering how these teams operating together is the foundation for effective transformation, I want to add weight to the merit of this analogy; Optimus Prime has a famous quote which is very true of most failed transformation endeavours…
“There’s a thin line between being a hero and a memory”
Depressingly it is stated that 70% of transformations fail. And, having been involved in many over the years I can believe it.
So, here is a diluted version of my top tips to make sure you are not part of that depressing statistic and that you stride purposefully past that line becoming a hero, not a memory.
First and foremost be clear on the term ‘Transformation’ – what it isn’t, what it is and what it takes to achieve it.
Transformation and Digital Transformation are conjoined terms. To ensure the right focus, effort and clarity is put on any Digital transformation endeavour it is important not to think about it as putting a bot in, turning on interactions on the social channels or investing in a new Contact Centre solution. That is a transition, not Transformation.
Digital Transformation is about making use of 4 key technologies and capabilities in order to digitise (read simplify) business processes – and in the Contact Centre that focuses on the Customer processes; the Advisor processes and the Operational processes.
The adoption of: Cloud Computing; IoT; Artificial Intelligence and Big Data
Are where a businesses’ opportunity to drive future proof Digital Transformation reside.
Any talk about transforming to a hyper personalised customer experience where you manage the individual’s intent on the right channel with the right resources and a personalised response will fail without data and AI (all contact centres have the advantage of a rich source of closed supervised data – all you need to do is pool it and label it!).
With the right terminology reflecting the size of the undertaking the next step is to bring the Transformation team together.
Silo’s create bias and silo’s will kill any transformation ambitions so you have to break down the silos and shed the bias.
Like we saw with Optimus you simply must have cross representation* from across each ‘module’ working together. Irrespective of it being called; The Change Team; The CoE; The Transformation Tribe (my made-up favourite) this team need to have a clear governance model with the overarching ambition articulated, understood and imbibed across the team and ultimately the business.
This team need to face into and work through any pre-existing bias that they have towards one another and focus on the issues not the people…
“IT, we think you are a bunch of nay sayers”
“Ops – you are too demanding and have no understanding of what it takes to run the Combat Deck”
“We don’t think you are manage effectively”
With the band together and all biases unearthed and addressed the collective ambition for the Transformation needs to be articulated.
Stating the ambition and ensuring it passes the 5 Why’s root cause approach test for its robustness of purpose is a good way to ensure it has merit. With the merit test passed consider ways to measure the on-going improvement and ultimate success.
Next step is to understand where your key failure points are… I love the quote from Marshall Goldsmith that brings the need to address failure into focus:
“What brought us here will not take us there”
The more honest you are about your failures (or areas for improvement if you are a bit woke) will lead to a much clearer path to success.
Transformation involved changes to People; Process and Technology – understanding where you are failing in each of these areas helps focus the mind and align milestone priorities to reach the ambition.
As you move collectively through these key milestones measuring success along the way – don’t tire. The ambition needs to be so sound that any thought of abandoning it or reducing the scope will be dulled immediately. It’s hard work and there will be different alternate pressures experienced by the core modules but you have to stick together and keep going.
And finally, your success is our industry’s success so whether you are looking back on a Transformation well done or you can see the finish line in sight think about entering industry awards. It’s a great opportunity to reflect on your story, to consider how far you have come and to celebrate the time, effort and foundations your Transformation Tribe are investing to effect long term and continued improvement.
*This should always include the front-line resources – not a representative voice – an actual Team Leader, or Advisor – their insight will be gold dust. The Customer also has to be there –work out the best way to have their voice front and centre in the room.