Simplifying the Contact Center with an On-Demand Solution
April 08, 2008
By Mae Kowalke
, TMCnet Contributor
There are many reasons why companies set up call centers and contact centers to handle customer-facing processes. Perhaps the most compelling is the impact customer retention can have on profits. By some estimates, increasing retention rates by 5 percent can boost profits by 25-95 percent.
Contact centers are not just about providing customer service; they also play the vital role of being responsible to a significant degree for revenue. Today’s contact centers handle orders; respond to marketing campaigns; and interact with clients by identifying, acquiring and servicing customers.
Crucial to the success of any contact center is the ability to communicate and assist in the way the best suits customers. Different types of customers prefer different communications channels, and the contact center must be able to respond via any channel in an equally efficient manner. This means being ready for customer interactions conducted via phone, fax, e-mail and instant messaging/chat.
In its white paper, Finally, a Simple Way to Deploy a Customer Contact Center
, Contactual (News
) explores two ways that organization can set up a contact center capable of effectively service customers. One option is to build an in-house contact center infrastructure. Another option is to subscribe to an online service like Contactual’s OnDemand Contact Center.
Designing in-house contact center infrastructure is a complex and expensive endeavor. Understanding and selecting the right set of products is quite time consuming. Consider, for example, that ten or more different products may be needed to provide required functionality, and that all these products must be integrated together.
In-house contact center infrastructure typically requires the following elements: PBX
, automatic call distributor (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR), e-mail router, agent-facing tool, self-service tool, database, reporting tool, fax server, co-browsing tool, voice logging and recording for quality monitoring, and voicemail system.
Comparing the complexity of such a setup to the its own OnDemand Contact Center solution, Contactual noted in its white paper that the company provides a complete suite of contact center applications already integrated and ready to go. This type of solution, delivered using the software-as-a-service (SaaS (News
)) model, eliminates the pain, cost, time and resources needed to set up in-house contact center infrastructure.
In-house infrastructure for a contact center, as already noted, requires not only selecting all the tools necessary but also implementing and integrating them, as well as user considerations and maintenance. The complexity of implementation and integration is clear simply from the fact that ten or more different products may be needed, each with its own requirements and limitations.
Once it is up and running, an in-house system also requires taking into considerations the skills and attitudes of users—the agents. Training is necessary so everyone knows how to use the new system, and training can’t begin until everything is operational and a guide has been created. Training is also an ongoing proposition because, as individual components of the system are upgraded over time, how-to documentation must be updated and everyone will have to be brought up to speed on the changes.
By contrast, an on-demand software solution like that offered by Contactual is designed with typical computer users in mind, rather than agents with special technical skills. This type of system uses a familiar graphical user interface to simplify usage. Because all the tools are pre-integrated, they all use a common interface. This means that, when updates are made, agents require minimal or no follow-up training because the changes merely add new tools without changing the look or feel of the system.
An on-demand solution is beneficial to agents and administration alike. For administrators, the cost and complexity of keeping everything running smoothly is significantly reduced. Like agents who can quickly become familiar with a centralized interface, administrators can track operations and create reports from a central dashboard. On-the-fly configuration changes are easy to make without involving IT staff.
Mae Kowalke is senior editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Mae’s articles, please visit her columnist page. She also blogs for TMCnet here.