Follow this Step-by-Step Process for Becoming More Agile
Now more than ever, companies in every industry are recognizing the importance of digital transformation (DX). Contact centers, in particular, have felt the urgency of this task in the last few years. As the pandemic brought remote customer service models to the forefront, it quickly became clear that digitally driven, cloud-based CX was no longer negotiable.
Knowing the destination isn’t the same as knowing how to get there, though, and the road to digital transformation is often foggy. The journey toward DX begins with DevOps for customer experience, but many contact centers aren’t even sure how to take that first step.
In a recent Analyst Connection Q&A with IDC, "Maintaining Continuous Innovation in Customer Experience: Contact Center DevOps," we had the opportunity to pose several key questions to Jim Mercer, Research Director, DevOps and DevSecOps and Mary Wardley, Program Vice President, Customer Care and CRM. Their answers provided valuable insight into a number of relevant topics, including a look at why DevOps lays the groundwork for effective digital transformation. Here are a few steps you can take to start adopting DevOps in your contact center.
The Role of DevOps in Digital Transformation
DevOps is a software development methodology that’s designed to break down the silos separating IT development and operations. It stresses collaboration between the two departments to achieve more agile, seamless and quick development and release cycles.
Today’s cloud-based contact centers need the freedom to execute automated, end-to-end testing so they can easily deploy changes to the customer journey or make improvements to the IVR system without putting CX at risk. DevOps makes this possible.
Although DevOps uses numerous tools to automate, test, monitor and make adjustments, it’s fundamentally more than a technology. It’s a mindset. Where older models were aimed at maintaining stability and separating responsibilities, DevOps embraces continuous improvement and emphasizes collaboration. It favors automation over manual processes in order to speed up innovation and execution and better deploy human resources elsewhere.
When this mindset permeates an organization, it lays the foundation for comprehensive digital transformation. Innovation can take priority because the old hurdles that prevented or slowed execution no longer block the way. In the contact center environment, this paves the way for faster, more frequent improvements to your CX.
Steps for Implementing DevOps in Your Contact Center
Introducing DevOps in your contact center takes a concerted effort, and it won’t happen overnight. Here are a few steps to follow to forge a successful path toward DevOps and digital transformation.
Change Your Culture
As we said, DevOps is more of a mindset than it is any specific set of tools or technologies. To implement it effectively, you’ll need to change the culture in your contact center. This is often the most difficult step.
According to Puppet’s 2021 “State of DevOps” report, the most common cultural hurdles to DevOps transformation in organizations include:
- Discouraging risk
- Unclear responsibilities
- Failure to prioritize fast flow for optimized output
- Poor feedback loops
Don’t underestimate the resistance to change you will encounter. As you face challenges in your DevOps journey, teams will default to the old way of doing things — that is, unless you have leadership on board and ready to keep everyone on track. Leaders must be prepared to constantly encourage their teams to embrace failure as an opportunity to learn and innovate.
Lay the Groundwork With Agile Practices
This culture change really begins before you start implementing DevOps. If you don’t already have agile methodologies in place, then back up and start there.
As a mindset and set of practices, DevOps is an outgrowth of the agile approach, which was a fundamental shift in software development and project management that began two decades ago. Agile methods shift development teams away from upfront, all-at-once forms of software development toward an iterative, collaborative approach.
If your contact center is already agile, your teams will be used to an ongoing process of testing and improvement. DevOps just takes this to the next level. Without that foundation, though, you’ll likely encounter far more resistance.
Start Small and Chart a Path
Don’t try to overhaul everything at once. The DevOps process and mindset take time to cultivate, so it’s best to start with one project before you expand into other areas of the business. Choose a project with clear business value but a limited scope. This will keep it manageable and ensure any consequences of early-stage failure are minimal.
Use value-stream mapping (VSM) to map the work through the DevOps pipeline. This should follow the workflow from internal customer requests to the customer-facing contact center at the end of the line. This VSM will make it easier for your team to break updates into manageable chunks so they can deploy, test and refine in phases.
Before you begin making changes, it’s also important to get a full picture of the customer journeys at play in your CX solution. Map your CX to follow the journey from end to end so the solutions you build will cover the full path any customer might take through your contact center. As you look for solutions for your DevOps implementation, be sure you seek ones that allow you to easily map the customer journey.
Emphasize Robust Automation and Test Management
Fast, efficient and effective testing is integral to the DevOps process. It’s essential to implement solutions that enable you to automate much of the testing process and conduct comprehensive testing at every level.
That means you need synthetic traffic for testing, automated test scripts, and effective reporting and audit tools. You’ll need to be able to test and evaluate every channel you use in your contact center, whether it’s phone, text, web, or social media. Finally, your system should be capable of functional, regression and performance testing without heavy reliance on manual processes.
Monitor in Real Time
DevOps solutions depend on more than just front-end testing before production deployment. Real-time monitoring of the live contact center is just as critical.
Again, DevOps and agile methodologies are all about deploying solutions more quickly and making continuous improvements. Given this framework, you’re more likely to roll out solutions that haven’t been fully formed. Steady, consistent real-time monitoring ensures that you catch any bugs or defects before they negatively affect your contact center CX.
This doesn’t mean you’ll need to redirect manual testing resources toward live monitoring. With the right solutions, the monitoring process, too, can be automated to provide alerts so you only deploy your manual resources to address the problems as the system finds them.
Integrate DevOps Solutions
As you begin your DevOps journey, it’s important to think comprehensively from the start. You might not implement every possible solution right away, but you’ll want to be sure the solutions will all work together as you add them.
Consider how everything will fit together and integrate with your existing contact center technologies. DevOps tools you’ll likely implement include Jira for planning and tracking, Jenkins for CI/CD orchestration, and PagerDuty or ServiceNow for incident management. You’ll need to be able to access these and others via APIs so you can easily integrate other solutions as needed. Plan now so you’re not awkwardly trying to piece everything together down the road.
Start Your DevOps Journey
The modern, cloud-based contact center makes it possible to deliver a better CX than ever before. But the technology and processes involved bring layers of complexity that can present significant hurdles. Truly delivering a delightful CX requires Agile and DevOps methodologies.
As the pandemic taught us, the world can change quickly. What worked yesterday won’t be effective tomorrow. DevOps gives your contact center the agility it needs to swiftly react to an ever-changing digital climate. Follow these steps to start introducing DevOps into your contact center now.
To learn more, download your copy of the IDC Analyst Connection report.
See how Cyara can help you dive into digital transformation with DevOps.