A hack day (or hackathon) is a collaborative event, where software developers and subject matter experts from around the business meet for an intensive program of brainstorming and idea sharing. The aim of a hack day is to develop or update software or data systems to solve a problem, but these events are also a great way to learn how to manage your business and work more efficiently online. Hack days can work for almost any type of organization, and you can tailor the approach to look at any part of your business, including your contact center. How could a hackathon help your contact center? Find out here.

To solve a specific problem

Hack days are most effective when everyone comes together to solve a specific problem. You could choose a very narrow focus, or you could aim for a much broader issue. For example, a hack day could offer a great opportunity to find out how to help your contact center agents deal with more queries at the first point of contact. Alternatively, you could ask everyone to come up with ways to help cut costs in the contact center. Both approaches could work.

In either case, you should make sure you clearly define what the problem is from the outset, or your hack day crew may start to focus on the wrong issues. While a hack day considers how to better use technology, the Internet and software, the process can also throw up issues that you need to address elsewhere. For example, if your developers come up with a great new way cut call handling time, you will probably still need to think about how you to train your contact center agents.

To develop community relationships

Successful hackathons often support worthy causes, and this type of activity is a great way to develop relationships with the local community. Hack days often focus on health and social issues, allowing people from all backgrounds to innovate together. For example, in 2014, the British High Commission in Canada ran a hackathon to look for ways that software designers could help people with dementia.

While the Toronto hackathon focused on an issue at a national and global scale, you can use the same principle to focus on more local issues. For example, if your local community has a problem with homelessness, a hackathon can help your employees work on a project that benefits the community. It's often hard to find ways to involve contact center teams in community projects, but a hack day is a creative, fun way to involve everyone.

To help you target a new market

It's often difficult to break into a new market, but a hack day can help you identify technology solutions that will meet the needs of new target customers. As such, some businesses use hack days to focus on certain customer groups, such as students, women, older people or families, and you can easily apply a contact center focus. For example, older customers often find it hard to navigate call steering or IVR systems, so a hack day could help you find a new way to route these customers' calls more easily.

What's more, the process of a hack day can cut the time it takes your business to introduce a new idea to the market. In a few days, you can go through several stages of the software development process that would normally take weeks or months. This type of agile thinking can give you a competitive edge, which, in turn, can rapidly increase your market share and boost customer satisfaction with your contact center.

To improve internal working relationships

You don't need to invite external attendees to your hack day, and many successful hackathons only involve internal employees. In many companies, some departments rarely speak to each other, and a lot of people in your business won't understand the challenges your contact center agents face.

Hack days can greatly improve internal working relationships. What's more, you don't have to understand technology or the Internet to get value from a hack day. In fact, the best outcomes occur when team members who understand your customers' problems (like your contact center agents) collaborate with people who understand how to get the most from software and data solutions.

A hack day is a simple idea that can bring a host of benefits to your contact center, and your staff members will almost certainly enjoy the opportunity to take part and learn more. If you're looking to fix some issues in your contact center, is it time to launch your first hack day?