Unified Communications is key to contact centre success

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The integration of real-time communication services is key to contact centre success in the current economic climate. Unified Communications has come of age and is becoming an increasingly important part of a successful contact centre’s armoury.

Few people in the contact centre industry would disagree that in this tough economic environment, good service and high customer satisfaction levels can make the difference between winning and losing business.

The ability to resolve an issue upon the customer’s first call has become one of the most powerful measures of a contact centre’s success. In fact, if a contact centre increases call resolution, not only is the quality of customer service improved, but also customer satisfaction levels climb while operational costs are driven down.

However, tying back-office systems and processes into the front of the contact centre can present an enormous challenge. This is only heightened by the growing number of an organisation’s experts working out in the field, traveling, or connecting from remote offices.

So how can a contact centre manager bring relevant information together successfully to build the foundation for a highly efficient contact centre? And how can technology, process, policy and information all be better integrated for first call resolution?

Unified Communications has been a much-hyped concept in the contact centre industry during recent years. Now it is truly coming of age, as technologies such as VoIP, video, web chat, email and calendars have become much more common in the workplace and can be integrated using common business rules.

The market for Unified Communications has matured in a relatively short space of time as a new generation of tech savvy workers – and customers – have grown up using these technologies, such as instant messaging and Skype, in everyday social interactions. At its most basic level, Unified Communications empowers employees to work in the best possible way. They can use technology and tools that enable them to have a ‘birds eye’ view of all the experts within an organisation, indicating their availability and preferred method of contact at any given time.

For example, if an expert is out in the field, a contact centre worker would be able to discover their availability and how best to contact them to get an immediate answer; for instance via mobile phone rather than email or instant messaging. In this way, Unified Communications technology gives agents the best multimedia tools for handling customer inquiries and providing quick call resolution.

There are many industries where Unified Communications is particularly relevant. For example, in GPs surgeries and health centres, technology provides a much easier and effective way for staff to connect with doctors and nurses on the go, so they can provide answers quickly on the phone or via instant messaging, and free up more time to develop patient notes.

Businesses should ask themselves a series of basic questions to determine if Unified Communications would help:

  • What is the purpose of introducing Unified Communications?
  • What multimedia tools are already used widely across the organisation?
  • What problem(s) do I want to solve?

It is only once you have a clear view of your organisation’s requirements that you can assess the best solution to meet your needs. Another important point to consider, once the benefits of Unified Communications become clear, is the scale of integration required. It is important for companies to research suppliers who can provide solutions that easily integrate into existing business systems.

And the rise of social networking tools could potentially move into the call centre as a new generation of technology-savvy employees enters the workplace. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are all tools that could have the potential to improve the contact centre environment – and time will tell whether they are effective.

New collaborative multimedia tools could also be used in the contact centre to solve problems on a shared basis among experts within the organisation and fed back to the call centre agent. Video and digital photography have yet to be fully embraced by call centres, but there could also be a future in which these technologies have a place in improving first call resolution.

For example, an insurance company could use the technology so that car policy claimants could take a picture or video of their vehicle at the scene of an accident. This would then be used to accelerate the claims process and reduce administration for the insurer.

Whatever the future holds, it’s clear that when customers call a contact centre today they are looking for quick first-call resolution. In this tough economy, businesses need to make the most of every inquiry and customer service experience. Contact centres must better integrate with back office systems and business processes – and Unified Communications could be the key to unlocking the door.

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