Experts on Demand – the gift that keeps on giving?

One of the more appealing concepts embraced by executives in recent years is delivering first contact resolution through the use of experts on demand. Could there be anything more obvious than using existing resources to resolve customer issues quickly? The employees are already paid for – seems like a great way to leverage existing investments, doesn’t it? Not to mention that applications exist to enable these “experts” with access to relevant information and manage the communications flow. Let’s put a bow on this one and wait for the oohs and ahs.

Not so fast, this could be that present from your Great Aunt Myrtle – the one you open with trepidation. Is it just what you’ve always wanted?  Or, have you been re-gifted with some old solution polished up to look new?  Is it that free trip to Florida that ends up costing a fortune because of the hidden fees and the extras? Is it that gift encased in plastic that you just know would be perfect if only you could get to it? Does it come with instructions and some assembly required?

Now, I don’t want to leave the impression that you should avoid this type of solution. With the right planning and the right folks involved, it can create a competitive advantage. But, some assembly is required. As with other UC projects this one requires buy-in and participation from multiple organizations within the company. People, process and technology continue to be the three areas to be addressed. And, in my opinion, technology is the easy part. A few questions to consider as you move forward:

  • Who are the experts and where do they reside in the organization? Is expertise self-declared? Or, is there a formalized process for declaring and communicating expertise?
  • How and when will experts be accessible? Do experts really have available time to respond? What happens if experts don’t reply?
  • How or will experts interact with the call center? What are the handoffs? Will customers have direct access to experts?
  • Do you want to track what your experts are doing? What metrics or KPIs are relevant for experts? How are experts evaluated and tied to customer satisfaction?
  • Where does ownership for the results of “experts on demand” fall?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you can identify who needs to be involved in the project (HR, Division Heads, IT, Call Center, etc.). Once the implications of the answers are evaluated, you can move forward with rolling out a customer service and support solution delivering first call resolution through the maximization of your human assets irrespective of where they sit. If done correctly, customers will receive better answers faster and customer satisfaction (and, hopefully customer loyalty) will increase. Employee satisfaction should also increase and, as a result, employee retention. Done incorrectly, it could be that gift from Great Aunt Myrtle – employees feel over-worked and underappreciated, customer calls go into the black hole, there’s lot of finger pointing as to who is responsible, and so on.

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