Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Supporting Multiple Communication Points in the Contact Center

February 01, 2012

If you spend any time following TMC and the telecommunications space, you know ITEXPO East 2012 has launched. In anticipation of this exciting event, TMC CEO Rich Tehrani wanted to get up close and personal with a variety of event speakers to get their insight on industry trends and the coming year.

To that end, Tehrani spoke with Rick McFarland, CEO of Voice4net and asked him to share his opinion on the most significant technological advancement in the past 12 months. McFarland believes key advancements includes the consistent adoption of mobile devices and the subsequent growth of social media. 

As for the biggest trend in his market segment, McFarland provided his blunt answer – trends and technology in the contact center space tends to be stagnant, yet targeted consumers are quickly evolving. When asked to share the biggest challenge facing Voice4net customers today, McFarland noted his customers are constantly working to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of customer interactions with the contact center.

As for the impact the cloud has had on business, McFarland noted a portion of Voice4net’s business provides hosted contact center and communications services. He also shared that while cloud-based communications do threaten premises-based PBXs, he expects them to be a part of telephony for quite some time. Social media continues to play an important role in the industry and McFarland noted that Voice4net uses these outlets as a means to communicate with its constituent audiences. He also believes that every business should be aware of how they are represented and viewed in the social media context.

ITEXPO East attendees will gain insight from McFarland on ways to integrate multiple new end-points from the communications environment into how contact centers operate. As for his 2012 prediction, McFarland shared that tablets and smartphones will continue to gain popularity in business and consumer domains. Their entire conversation follows:

What was the most significant technological advancement in the past 12 months and why?

Across the communications landscape, the consistent adoption of mobile devices, and the resulting growth of social media has been the biggest advancement.   This combination is creating a perfect storm for changing the customer interaction paradigm and enabling powerful and responsive two-way communications with customers that will ultimately generate more business and revenue.

What has been the biggest trend in your market segment and how is it impacting your customers?

To be blunt, the trends and technology in Contact Centers are relatively stagnant. The features and functions available from most providers and vendors are on a level plane, but the consumers that are the target of the Contact Center are evolving – and quickly. Consumers have definite ideas about how they want to interact with, and be contacted by, people that they do business with. It is these choices that will drive consumer behavior and satisfaction with business engagements. 

A successful Contact Center operator cannot afford to ignore the power of social network interaction, alternative communications methods like text, chat, voice, and video that offer consumers comfort and convenience in the interaction. Voice4net is embracing this broadened scope of how consumers wish to be contacted by enabling our customers to evolve by delivering flexible customer contact solutions.

What is the biggest challenge facing your customers today and how is your company helping address that challenge?

Our customers are constantly working to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of customer interactions with the Contact Center. Voice4net strives to empower its customers to deliver customer service excellence. This is accomplished through creating a framework of communications pathways and database resources that provide agents with the information and contact methods necessary to address consumer needs in a manner that the consumer finds convenient and effective.

How has Cloud impacted your business? How has it impacted your customers?

A portion of our business provides hosted Contact Center and communications services, so I guess you can say we have been pioneering the Cloud for many years already. Cloud-based services have had—and will continue to have—a significant impact on businesses. There is certainly a capital and operating expense trade-off with regard to premise-based equipment, but the flexibility enabled by a cloud-based service can allow businesses to quickly adapt to capacity and location needs, and deliver the biggest value to most customers.

Will Cloud-based communications expedite the end of the premises-based PBX market?

We work with premise-based PBX and cloud-based voice systems today, and it appears that both of these approaches to providing basic voice telephony services will continue for a long time. Businesses need to focus on servicing customers, not on the technology behind the phone on the desk. Delivering excellent customer service has a much greater impact on business success than the type of telephony service being used to deliver it.

What approach has your business taken to social media? If you have implemented a social media program, have you been able to evaluate your program’s success?

We use social media outlets as a means to communicate with our constituent audiences. It is crucial for a business to understand the different avenues of communication that its customers prefer, and to ensure that they have a presence in those environments.

Does every business need a social media presence? Why or why not?

Every business must be aware of how they are represented and viewed in the social media context. This is a critical component of brand management. At Voice4net, we are incorporating powerful search and database capabilities into Contact Center environments to enable businesses to keep abreast of relevant messages, comments, complaints, or information. This enables them to address matters quickly and in forums that consumers prefer.

What can attendees expect from your company at ITEXPO?

We will be speaking about ways to integrate multiple new end-points from the communications environment into how Contact Centers operate. These new end-points include technology endpoints such as mobile devices, and communications forums such as social media destinations. It must be recognized that any or all of these emerging communication methods or technologies may be critical to understanding customer behavior and influencing their comfort with Contact Center interactions, and ultimately will influence business profitability and performance.

Make one technology prediction for 2012 and consider its impact.

Tablets and smartphones will continue to gain popularity in the business and consumer domains. As new ideas about how to best relate to customers and understand customer behavior evolve along with mobile technology innovation, businesses will discover new ways to best serve customers through combinations of technology, applications, and social networking.

To find out more about Rick McFarland and Voice4net, visit the company at ITEXPO East 2012. Happening now at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami, Fla., ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. McFarland is speaking during “How call centers are being reshaped by smartphones, social media and fed-up consumers“ For more information on ITEXPO registration, click here.

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Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for ContactCenterSolutions and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell