Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Contact Center Solutions Week in Review

December 28, 2013

The news in the Contact Center Solutions Community this past week was a little different than usual since along with the serious business of our business, there was also a bit of whimsy.  In fact, our lead item about the annual tracking of Santa Claus by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) not only is about Christmas cheer, but also highlights a great use of multi-channel customer interactions capabilities and hence is why it deserves to top the news.  Indeed, the good news is that Santa, despite a very tight schedule, successfully completed his appointed rounds.

While we can all cheer Santa having completed his mission, the news for many IT workers this holiday was not so cheerful.  As has been well-documented here in the U.S. package delivery titans UPS and FedEx did not do a great job of planning for the holiday rush this year and were unable to deliver their parcels to many homes prior to Christmas Day. This unfortunately means that many IT workers and contact center agents are going to be working overtime this holiday season.   

Other topics of interest in the areas of advice and industry trends made headlines this week.  On the advice side of things, TMCnet Contributor Mae Kowalke had an interesting piece on how open-ended questions help keep contact center agents at their best. And, DeskAlerts provided advice based on some survey work that intra-corporate multi-channel communications that enables better collaboration is a key toward improving operational excellence and ultimately improves the customer experience as well.

In terms of trends there were some warnings and the prospects of industry disruption that went along with good news. Items included:

  • Thanks to new rules sanctioned by the Federal Communications Commission under the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act, for-profit college recruiters have got to curb their calling habits — by a lot. The rules place tighter restrictions on the ways in which for-profit colleges can make recruiting calls.
  • In terms of disruption, keep an eye on contact center solutions company Fenero who is touting a new price model where businesses pay per direct contact with customers, via voice, e-mail or chat. The Fenero Contact Center software takes the monthly subscription per user model and refines it further so customers pay only based on actual use, instead of number of users. 
  • We are all aware unfortunately of nuisance calls. They appear to be on the increase around the world, and in the UK they have hit a record number according to a recently released report by the Culture Media and Sport Committee of the British Parliament. It has put forth a number of suggestions as to how to stop the madness which is worth a read. 
  • GM Customer Support Returns to the United States
  • A significant amount of American businesses have been moving at least a part of their operations out of the country to reduce costs. While their bottom line improved, the quality of the work suffered for many reasons. In a bid to restore their reputation, companies are now slowly returning onshore. The most recent of the returnees is General Motors (News - Alert)
  • According to a new research report titled "Business & Technology Trends in Defined Contribution Retirement Plans" published by Novarica, insurance companies are making significant investments in upgrading technology, including all of their customer interaction capabilities, to stay competitive. 
  • While the tendency in the community is to look at the inbound side of the business, outbound is equally important.  That said, of interest is what StreamSend is doing to help integrate social media, video and marketing automation plans into the email marketing campaigns which a recent published by DMA Email Marketing Council says offered the maximum return on investment during 2013. The report also mentions that integration of email marketing with social media campaigns is expected to generate more effective returns. 
  • The luxury travel planning folks at SaverExpress Reviews have added some customer experience enhancements that include more langue support and live call-in for its members that are applicable in a myriad of other vertical markets, and a trend to watch. 

The rest of the industry news as usual covered a broad range of interests. In looking at contact center supervisor needs and how to improve floor-managers abilities to be more responsive, Indosoft (News - Alert) has added audio alerts to its Q-Suite Real-time ACD Reporting capabilities for Asterisk (News - Alert)-based contact centers. Sound Telecom, a major provider of 24-hour Telephone Answering Services (TAS), contact center solutions and cloud-based phone systems, announced its COO, Mr. Brian Gabriel will relocate from Seattle to Spokane, Washington, to manage the company's contact center and IT operations.  And, Wells Fargo (News - Alert) Shareowner Services has been recognized with the Transfer Agent Leader Overall North America (TALON) large agent award. The company has won the award nine times in 11 years.

Finally, the holiday season is when seemingly everyone literally hits the road. Unfortunately, this means that there is always an increase in the road or other vehicles hitting back meaning a spike in calls to insurance company contact centers.  In fact, here in the U.S. the latest data released by Allstate Road Services reveals that 55 percent of the vehicle breakdowns during the holiday season are reported to be mechanical problems, which call for a towing service to the nearest service station. The remaining 45 percent of the calls for help involve non-tow related services such as unlocking a locked vehicle, changing a tire, getting the fuel delivered or repairing a dead battery.  Hopefully, this is one call you will not have to make this season, but at least we know our community members are ready, willing and able to assist you should troubles arise.

Weekend reading  

If you have some spare time this holiday season our community home page is always open for providing links to great resources—eBooks, whitepapers, videos, demos, etc. —which are constantly being updated. Plus, for detailed information on specific areas of interest, our affiliated channels — Accounts Receivable Management, Business Process Automation, CaaS, Cloud-based Contact Centers and Insurance Technology — are places to visit frequently and bookmark.

I will close with best wishes from the entire family for a happy holiday season.   

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