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Why the contact centre needed change: The real role of digital innovation and transformation

By James Guthrie, Founder of Smartz Solutions

The future of contact centres lies in embracing digital innovation and transformation.
The future of contact centres lies in embracing digital innovation and transformation.

Contact centres are the lifeline between businesses and their customers. But how strong can that lifeline really be when the industry is plagued by outdated systems and inefficient processes. Customers aren’t getting a smooth ride, they are forced to take an obstacle course of irritations.

Customer experiences have been suffering and it’s about time we seriously do something about it.

I’ve spent over three decades in this field, I’ve witnessed firsthand the critical need for true digital innovation and transformation. Most of us working in the industry want this change, we need this change, but legacy platforms, their exorbitant fees and siloed systems make that change quite impossible and entirely frustrating. This is why back in 2006, we knew things could be different, but we had to create it from scratch.

But let’s start at the beginning.

The problems contact centres are facing

One of the most significant challenges contact centres face is the reliance on traditional legacy systems. These systems come with entangled infrastructures and exorbitant fees that stifle operational efficiency.

As a former CIO/COO of a 1 500-seat contact centre, I experienced the frustration of managing multiple disjointed solutions to gain necessary insights – a process that was not only ineffective, but also costly.

The inefficiency of legacy systems translates directly into poor customer experience. Customers today expect quick and seamless interactions across various channels, but traditional systems often lack the integration needed to support this.

A report by Forrester found that 73% of customers will likely switch brands if they don’t get consistent experiences across contact channels. This fragmentation leads to slow response times, repeated information requests, and ultimately, customer dissatisfaction.

Poor employee experience is another critical issue. Contact centres operate with a high turnover rate, which can be as high as 45% annually. Disjointed systems force employees to juggle between multiple platforms, leading to frustration and burnout. Happy employees are the cornerstone of happy customers, but current systems make it difficult to achieve this balance.

Balance: What takes us towards innovation and what sets us off course.

As with anything, balance is a key tenant of contact centres (in fact, all businesses). What does balance really mean then for us? Balance requires us to look at the entire picture and make decisions that create steady foundations on which we can scale. But how can we do that if the tools and systems do not allow us to see the entire picture? How do we grow?

Contact centres simply cannot grow the way they want to and should because they are out of balance. Digital innovation can give us the path to create that balance, but if that is at exorbitant dollar-based costs in the African market, it becomes even further out of reach.

To truly be able to pivot and embrace all the complexities that come with this digital age, we need the tools to do it. In 2006, the Smartz Solutions journey began with a clear objective: to create a comprehensive, cost-effective and 360-degree platform that connects the customer and employee experiences and gives back power to the contact centres.

Contact centres need a platform that integrates various contact channels, provides real-time insights and analytics and doesn't need them to rip and replace all their existing processes/systems. When we started developing the Smartz Solutions platform, we knew that we had to create a platform that understood how quickly customer needs evolve and how agile contact centres have to be to efficiently respond.

Flexibility is one of the biggest parts of creating digital transformation and restoring this balance – the agility to adapt and evolve. Existing systems give you an option (if you’re lucky) between on-premises or cloud. Either way, you are trafficked through one strategy and have to conform. This makes businesses rigid, yet again.

Now let’s introduce the shiny solution that we are told will solve every single one of our problems and give us balance in our businesses – ‘automation’. As you know, this is not the be-all and end-all. In fact, it has caused even more headaches for contact centres. Why? Because we are over correcting. Automation only works when you know where it should be used and where it will actually improve your operations.

At Smartz Solutions, we have the tools to automate your processes, but we do not just shove automation down every area of the business. Why? Because we understand the customer journey and how these automations impact the customer and employee. Creating a balance between automation and human experience can create an efficient hybrid system.

We also see this in the latest trend of mass AI adoption. It makes sense that we would all rush to something like artificial intelligence to fill the gaps legacy systems leave, but when our foundations are not in place, we get pushed out of balance yet again. Implementing AI prematurely or incorrectly will result in you not having a complete image of the customers' life cycle nor the insights from these interactions. This means you will not be able to blend the flow between different channels and voice, and not be in a position to do proper work force planning and optimisation. To top it off, you will not be able to do complete quality assessments across all channels from a single platform.

Again, balance is the name of the game.

By moving away from legacy systems, contact centres can significantly reduce operational costs whilst creating this balance in their business. Our platform’s modular design allows businesses to implement features incrementally, avoiding the hefty expenses associated with a complete system overhaul. This cost-effectiveness is a game-changer, especially for small to medium-sized enterprises that traditionally struggled to afford advanced contact centre technologies.

Up until now, many features and functionalities have been reserved for blue chip enterprises. Even worse, innovative functionalities such as sentiment analysis, real-time interventions, voice biometrics and customer-agent matching are out of reach for most SMEs and other sized businesses.

We didn’t like that. So we changed it.

We developed AID (Automatic Interaction Distribution), which is proprietary technology that automatically matches customers to agents. We built sentiment analysis that gives contact centres access to real-time insights to make immediate decisions and we integrated voice biometrics and third factor authentication methodologies in our platforms. Creating avenues for self-service or automated channels gives omnichannel contact centres the power to engage more with customers, reduce fraud and gives employees tools that support their work.

Smartz Solutions: Restoring balance to contact centres for innovation and growth

The contact centre industry stands at a crossroads. The traditional systems and methods are no longer viable in a world where digital innovation and transformation are expected of us. At Smartz Solutions, we are committed to giving contact centres a platform that enables this change. Our adaptive, future-forward technology provides the tools and insights contact centres need to thrive in this new era.

By addressing the fundamental challenges of high costs, inefficiency and poor employee experience, our platform offers a comprehensive solution that supports new ways of work and communication. The future of contact centres lies in embracing digital innovation and transformation.

With Smartz Solutions, businesses can unlock the full potential of their contact centres, delivering exceptional service and achieving sustainable growth. It’s time to break free from the shackles of legacy systems and step into a future where technology and human touch work hand in hand to create unparalleled customer experiences.

What we have learnt from history is that we simply do not learn from history! We recreate it and live with the same issues. With Smartz Solutions, you can finally stop living in the past and create a new future! 

Smartz Solutions

Smartz Solutions is a cloud-based omnichannel communications platform. Our competitive advantage is how we bring together back office, communications and employee engagement under one fully integrated stack. With decades of experience and knowledge of the relationship between the employee and customer experience, Smartz Solutions maps these journeys to give businesses the power of managing total experiences.


Editorial contacts
Founder James Guthrie james@smartz-solutions.com

* Article first published on www.itweb.co.za

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