Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

BT Intros New Business Continuity Offering for Contact Centers

September 11, 2009

Global network operator BT (News - Alert) this week introduced a new business continuity offering to help protect its contact center customers in the event of a natural disaster, terrorist attack, pandemic -- or, if it is part of your disaster planning, asteroid impact or alien invasion.

The hosted service, called BT NGCC Protect, part of its Next Generation Contact Center portfolio, facilitates automatic failover of a call center’s ACD routing scheme so that agents can work from remote locations or from home in the event of a disaster or some other disruption that prevents them from making it into work.

According to the company, the service can work as a standalone solution or alongside existing contact center technology. During placid times, the licenses sit idly “in reserve” at a greatly reduced cost, but then become live immediately in the event a disaster strikes. Basically it is a way of having BT's NGCC offering fully-loaded with your routing scheme, business rules and other specifications, sitting there, as a safety net, in the event something goes horribly wrong.

This way, if some of your agents become stricken with a virus that results in a 103 degree fever, vomiting, physical weakness and delusions, they will still be able to deliver the same chipper service your customers have come to expect – only without infecting the rest of the staff. Or, if a hurricane or blizzard strikes, they can work from the safety and comfort of their homes, and avoid the commute into the main center -- providing of course, they still have network connectivity.

This new service, which is delivered via BT’s 21CN global platform, means contact center agents will still be able to access unified communications features and customer relationship management (CRM) tools just the same as they would in the main contact center. (Of course, a company would have to define the needed broadband speeds and desktop specifications in order for the platform to be properly supported remotely at agents’ homes.) A company release does not provide technical details on how the new service works – and, in particular, how security is handled in the event of a system failover. A search of BT’s Website, using the term “NGCC Protect,” did not yield any results, and its business continuity page doesn’t make mention of it, at least as of yet. (TMCnet plans to follow up on this.)

BT is also offering business customers a free trial of its self-service CRM solutions, which allow businesses to improve customer service while at the same time reducing headcount. Consumers are growing increasingly comfortable using self-service solutions (i.e. IVRs) for routine transactions, such as balance transfers -- as well as informational interactions, such as getting one’s account balance or checking the status of an order. A recent study indicates that about 67 percent of consumers prefer self-service systems over live interactions with off-shore contact center agents.

In addition, any company that deploys BT’s fully-configurable self-service applications and doesn’t see a measureable “return on investment,” it will let that customer walk away without any fees or commitments. The company works with numerous leading technology partners to deliver advanced self service solutions, including Nortel, Avaya, Cisco, Genesys and Nuance (News - Alert). Its self-serve solutions deliver the much-coveted “call back” capability, among other features.

“Businesses today face the dual challenge of ensuring excellent customer service, while keeping capital expenditure costs under control,” said Neil Sutton, VP global portfolio, BT Global Services (News - Alert), in a release. “But, as recent examples have shown, unexpected events – such as extreme weather conditions, travel problems or virus outbreaks – can quickly bring a contact center to its knees. Advances in BT’s on-demand contact center technology and self-service CRM tools, as well as trial offers, will put businesses in a stronger position to tackle any unforeseen events and benefit from cost savings.”

BT made news on TMCnet in June when it announced that it had signed a major five-year voice services agreement with Tata Communications that allows each party with access to additional capacity and flexibility. Under the terms of the deal, Tata Communications (News - Alert) will be BT's primary supplier of International Direct Dial (IDD) and other voice termination services outside BT's own footprint countries. BT will also be able to access Tata Communications’ routing capabilities and on-line management systems that will improve their competitiveness in the international calls market.

Patrick Barnard is a contributing writer for TMCnet. To read more of Patrick’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard

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