Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Why Unified Communications in the Call Center?

March 10, 2008

With today's announcement of Aspect (News - Alert) Unified IP with Unified Communications (News - Alert) (see Rich Tehrani's blog http://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/rich-tehrani/unified-communications/aspect-brings-unified-communications-to-the-contact-center.html for announcement), it's natural to wonder, "What can unified communications (UC) do for the call center?"

In the simplest explanation possible for what is a notoriously complex and often poorly defined subject, unified communications is the successful blending (or "convergence") of all communications media, methods and devices into one interconnected entity, if you will, that breaks away all barriers to communication within an enterprise. Unified communications, when utilized in the contact center, leads to better and faster customer service; a more satisfying and seamless customer experience; better utilization of business processes; a greater likelihood of first-call resolution and more efficient usage of a company's human capital (no more wasted hours of "phone tag," for starters). "Presence," the idea behind unified communications, is, as Aspect points out, not new to the contact center. Prior to these days of unified communications, it was referred to as "agent state."

According to a study commissioned by Aspect Software and conducted by Chicago-based Leo J. Shapiro & Associates LLC (www.ljs.com) entitled, "An Evaluative Report of the Knowledge Worker’s Role in the Contact Center, 2008," the need for unified communications in an organization, and in the call center in particular, rises with each contact that is sent outside the call center for subject matter experts in other parts of an organization. So how often does this occur? According to the contact center supervisors and agents surveyed for the study, 10.3 percent of all telephone inquiries these contact center workers handle on a daily basis require assistance from knowledge workers in other departments of the organization.

More than 10 percent of calls need to go outside the contact center ? and then come back into it ? to be satisfactorily resolved.

Contact center personnel aren’t reaching out to one particular function for support; they are asking for help from a multitude of subject matter experts across the enterprise. (And the beauty of it is…now they can.) So what kind of information are these call centers workers looking for? In 25 percent of cases, supervisors and agents are seeking assistance on technical details. For another 25 percent of these interactions, contact center personnel are getting help from financial, insurance or casualty experts. The remaining calls that require support from upper management, sales and collections, distribution-related functions, legal, retail, and a variety of other departments.

So how often are call center workers sending contacts outside the call center? Aspect's report addresses this specifically. The answer is more than 95 million per day.

According to the report, Datamonitor cites that there are roughly 926,000,000 interactions per day between businesses and customers all over the world. By applying the 10.3 percent ratio to this figure, we can conclude that more than 95. 4 million contacts each day require assistance from outside the contact center, or approximately 238 million minutes each day that contact center personnel spend asking for help or transferring calls.

By applying the tried-and-true formula of multiplying the seconds…or even minutes…unified communications can shave off customer contacts following a first-call resolution model by the number of calls made per day, it's easy to see that unified communications can save a large call center (or even a not-so-large call center) a great deal of money in real dollars. Factor in the "soft" costs like greater customer loyalty, improved agent job satisfaction and lower turnover, and unified communications can very well be considered the backbone of a successful customer-facing company.

Unified communications allows the concept of "outside the contact center" to disappear entirely. When the same communications protocol wraps around the entire organization, the very concept of "outside" disappears, taking with it long hold times, dropped calls, busy signals, dead ends, unbalanced queues, misrouted calls and voice mail hell. It turns an organization's customer-facing infrastructure transparent, consistent and reliable. In an era of rising customer expectations in terms of quality and speed of service, and increasingly tight budgets, pleasing everyone within and without a company seemed like an impossible feat.

And as of today and Aspects UC announcement, it's a great deal easier to attain.

For more information, visit www.aspect.com.

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Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users. Today’s featured white paper is The “BRAIN” Model of Intelligibility in Business Telephony, brought to you by Polycom (News - Alert).

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