Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Latest Contact Center Trends Point to Mobile UC Flexibility for Consumers

July 26, 2010

As telephony evolves from legacy TDM silos to mobile, IP-based connectivity and multimodal UC interfaces, the contact center world is trying to stay on top of the changes these are bringing to traditional customer interactions. As I have frequently pointed out, “Customer UC” will be a big source of enterprise ROI because it not only helps reduce costs, but also increases customer satisfaction and revenue generation. 

However, that increase will be maximized most cost-effectively when consumers exploit the flexibility and efficiencies of mobile, multimodal communication devices like the new generation of “smartphones.”

Market figures already show that such smartphones are rapidly being adopted by individual end users of all types as primary endpoints for more personalized and flexible contacts. 

Leading analyst firms are now starting to project key contact center market changes that new communication technologies will bring by surveying customer organization perspectives about their technology migration plans from legacy TDM telephony that has dominated contact center activities in the past. The results of a recent market study by Frost & Sullivan was promoted by Interactive Intelligence at their Global User Forum last month to show the new directions that contact centers will be taking. The study “highlights” confirm that customer contact centers will be exploiting the benefits of UC to achieve individual “customer satisfaction,” as well as new, more flexible and cost-effective technology implementations through hosted network services.

Highlights of Frost & Sullivan North American Customer Survey

Customer satisfaction back as a top priority – A full 50 percent of respondents were profiled as “customer-oriented,” with 35 percent profiled as seeking the “latest and greatest” applications, and the remaining 15 percent profiled as “cost-focused.”

Growth of hosted services; increasing adoption by large contact centers – The fastest growing segment for hosted contact center adoption were respondents representing contact centers with more than 500 seats (from 35 percent in 2009, to 47 percent in 2010); among all size segments, a total of 30 percent indicated they would use hosted services in 2010, up from 24 percent in 2009.

Rapid growth of social media customer interactions– Of respondents surveyed, 30 percent indicated they support social media customer activity and interactions on external social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and 29 percent indicated they monitor and extract intelligence from this activity; of social media benefits, the top three cited were to “provide better customer service,” (75 percent), “drive sales,” (58 percent), and “drive customer loyalty” (54 percent).

Growth of Web collaboration, text and video – Of supported inbound interaction channels, growth from 2009 to 2010 was highest for text/SMS (25 percent increase), video (15 percent increase), and Web-based interactions (8 percent increase).

Consistent customer experience across channels continues to be a high priority across industries – the largest majority of respondents – 67 percent – rated ensuring consistent service across channels as a “very high priority” or “high priority.”

Significant increase in proactive customer contact activity across industries – Of three types of outbound customer programs, the majority – 65 percent – indicated they would increase their “proactive, value-add customer contact” programs over the next two years; 43 percent said they would increase their “sales and marketing” programs, and 42 percent said they would increase their “collections” programs.

Why Multimodal Mobility is Key to Efficient UC Customer Contacts

As I have frequently pointed out, UC flexibility is designed to support end user needs as either contact initiators or as contact recipients/respondents (Inbound/Outbound contacts). To maximize customer contact accessibility, an individual end user must be able to either initiate or respond to a business notification anywhere, anytime and in any modality. Mobile access, coupled with UC interface options, offers just such flexibility and control for efficient communication contact with individual customers. Without mobility and UC, customers are stuck with the old limitations of location-based communications and no alternatives for selectively communicating under different environmental circumstances.

With traditional cell phones, mobility was provided, but only for a voice-based connection. Mobile users in particular are often limited in using voice, not only because of their “availability” to talk, but also because of privacy and ambient noise issues. Furthermore, when customers are contacted by an automated business process application, voice conversations are not as appropriate or efficient as a visual interchange (text, graphics). While speech is efficient for simple user inputs, it is less so for information output. This is particularly important for the expected increase in proactive customer contact activity confirmed by the Frost and Sullivan study.

Accordingly, UC flexibility is particularly strategic to mobile, self-service business applications, that can be initiated by automated business process applications, better known as CEBP (Communications Enabled Business Processes).     

What Do You Think?

You can contact me at: [email protected] or (310) 395-2360.

Art Rosenberg, a veteran of the computer and communications industry, contributes his column, The Unified-View to ContactCenterSolutions. To read more of Art’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison