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January 28, 2013

Trends, Tricks and Triumph in the Call Center

By Allison Boccamazzo, TMCnet Web Editor

The call center is and always will be an area of targeted growth and improvement. There are so many factors that influence the way the call center works and is perceived that it can be hard for some to keep up. The call center is no longer a center for callers to be put on hold or to get caught in the tangled IVR web. It’s been progressively evolving to prove itself a reliable and worthy form of business communications.

When it comes to differentiating the uniquely different aspects of the modern call center, nothing’s better than getting the answers straight from the horse’s mouth. In this case, that would be Rick McFarland, CEO at Voice4Net, a company who has dedicated itself to rising above the hum-drum surface of self-service operations by designing, developing, implementing and hosting custom self-service solutions.

The first trend influencing the call center right now, according to McFarland, is business automation. “Companies can significantly increase their bottom line by automating their business processes through effective technology. In the customer service industry, that means a technology that will answer many of the customer’s questions before they even interact with a live agent,” McFarland tells TMCnet. “It requires tools that enable agents to do their jobs faster and better, so more customers are served in a shorter timeframe.”

This, of course, leads to more satisfied customers, happier agents and greater operational efficiencies, he notes. For example, a contact center platform like Voice4Net’s Contact Center HD (CCHD) integrates multiple media types to deliver relevant information to agents quickly, thus, enabling customers to better interact with the contact center via whichever media outlet they prefer, McFarland adds.

While we’re knee deep in the topic of influencing factors, McFarland also notes that cloud computing has been changing the way call center businesses operate. For example, Voice4Net has been delivering services using cloud-based and hosted resources for some time now, he divulges. “The cloud provides flexibility in implementation that can satisfy a variety of business needs ranging from complete system replacements to evolutionary upgrades,” he divulges.

Some additional benefits of the cloud, he says, can include:

  • The cloud offers flexibility that “can make a significant impact from a disaster recovery perspective.”
  •  “The cloud provides a certain level of resilience for back-up and storage, as well as computer resources for applications and services.”
  • Hosting certain services in the cloud can take “much of the strain off of the premises-based infrastructure.”
  • Cloud solutions have a bigger appeal to those who are looking to avoid additional hardware costs or a greater on-premises footprint.
  • “The cloud enhances accessibility and flexibility of reporting functions” when using virtual machines.
  • The cloud helps contribute to implementing/enabling mobile applications within the contact center environment.

While the cloud is becoming an increasingly popular component in call center deployments today, there are still some certain perceived setbacks when moving to the cloud. While McFarland believes that cloud-based security is more relevant to data center than call centers, he does say that “there is a perception in the marketplace that data is somehow not as secure as if it were held on an on-premises server.”

He puts these rumors and tricks to rest once and for all, explaining, “While for some highly sensitive data, the security practices of cloud providers may cause some concern, for the mission-critical data used in call center operations, the efficiency of cloud-based solutions should help customers overcome nagging security concerns.”

One thing that has truly helped to sky rocket the call center has been social media. It has proliferated every business imaginable, but it means something especially important for the call center. McFarland explains, “Social media has had a tremendous influence on how people interact and communicate, and therefore that has had an impact on how consumers seek customer service. Many are looking to communicate with businesses directly and indirectly – the same way they socialize: via texting, tweeting, chat, online forums, and others.”

Voice4Net once again remains ahead of the curve in this department as well, as its solutions are fundamentally designed to accommodate these different popular media channels, McFarland says. However, he says that while it’s important to incorporate these new media, “we find that voice is still the number one method that people use to obtain customer service.”

Speaking of customer service, Voice4Net is a true pioneer. McFarland himself is actually speaking during a session panel at this week’s highly anticipated ITEXPO (News - Alert) Miami 2013 event, which starts tomorrow and carries on through February 1 at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami, Fla. The panel session is titled, “Contact Center Customer Experience: More than ‘Can You Hear Me Now?’”

McFarland hinted at some keys to call center customer service success, such as incorporating bring your own device (BYOD) policies to make the contact center manager “more mobile and productive.”

One concluding tip McFarland has for call center managers is as follows: Don’t get caught up in the sensationalism of it all. “When looking to purchase technology, many business owners are blinded by flash instead of substance and actual functionality. Pretty screens and cute call forwarding messages don’t make an organization more profitable; glitter doesn’t always correlate with ROI.   An intuitive user interface and easy-to-learn applications, however, are true necessities in an effective call center environment.”

McFarland is very much looking forward to attending and participating in this year’s semiannual technology and communications event, which brings together buyers, sellers, resellers and manufacturers from across the world. He beams, “ITEXPO is a terrific forum.  We love to get in front of an audience and tell our story, because once customers and partners hear about our efforts to target real needs in the call center, they understand how we can help them. And, of course, the ITEXPO parties are a good time as well!”

To find out more about McFarland and Voice4Net, visit the company at ITEXPO Miami 2013,taking place Jan. 29- Feb 1, in Miami, Florida, where McFarland is speaking during “Contact Center Customer Experience: More than ‘Can You Hear Me Now?’” For more information on ITEXPO Miami 2013, click here.




Edited by Jamie Epstein
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