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Customer Inter@ction Solutions
March 2007 - Volume 25 / Number 10
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Investing In SIP For The Contact Center

By Betsy Wood and Shane O’Neill
Nortel (News - Alert)

It’s universal — nobody likes to wait. When you want something — whether it’s an answer to a critical question, the newest gadget or an important decision — you want it right now! That’s the way it is across all demographic groups. It’s the same for your customers, who expect your business to be responsive and helpful. And, of course, your customers also count on getting this service 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

As a result, the days of the “phone only” call center, and the phone and e-mail contact center for that matter, are severely limited because these media alone just won’t deliver the customer service results you need to stay competitive. The good news is, your wait is over. You can invest in SIP ( Session Initiation Protocol (News - Alert) ) for your contact center to help your business solve problems and make decisions immediately, and you can significantly expand the opportunities you have for richer, dynamic collaboration. You’ll transform your contact center from merely talking to working together with customers to form and strengthen profitable relationships. Because your business will be exceedingly responsive, your customers’ wait will be over, too.

Solve Problems And Make Decisions Immediately
SIP boosts your contact center communications capabilities and minimizes the previous hurdles to incorporating new means of communication like video, Web collaboration and instant messaging (IM) so you can shift your contact center quickly into the next generation. SIP is the first protocol designed from the beginning to support and simplify multimedia communications and to free communications from being device-dependent. SIP, therefore, is exactly what your contact center and business needs to maximize flexibility and optimize effectiveness. You’ll eliminate wasted time, be able to find the best expert to answer customer questions, and become more relevant, valuable and unique to your customers. Your contact center will be able to solve problems and make decisions immediately — increasing first-contact resolution to enhance customer loyalty and lower operating costs, producing happy customers, employees and management.

SIP brings a wealth of capabilities that add vibrant dimensions to your business communications: dimensions that you simply cannot reach without it. SIP, which works with IP networks, does for multimedia communications what HTTP did for the Internet — make it simple. When you browse the Web, you just surf. You don’t have to know what protocol you’re using or think about how to get where you’re going. SIP, similarly, streamlines multimedia communications set-up, facilitates vital collaboration by adding a presence capability so you know when someone is available on the network, provides a single address for all communication and supports multiple modes of communication during a single session. SIP also enables a universal approach that crosses enterprise and service provider, wired and wireless networks — another reason to include SIP. Ultimately SIP helps your contact center and organization become more customer-focused and to move beyond the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Move Far Beyond VoIP
VoIP gives your contact center a tremendously flexible converged network that’s easier to manage, but it’s focused on your infrastructure and not vital and dynamic customer collaboration. VoIP just isn’t good enough on its own. You need to move far beyond with SIP to create a substantial difference for your customers.
Let’s take a look at a couple of scenarios that illustrate the difference. VoIP lets you build a virtual contact center and gives you the freedom to locate employees wherever it makes sense: in your headquarters, in branches or at home. You can you pool resources, which helps you answer customer requests faster, but it doesn’t add any new functionality to take your contact center to the next level and to the next generation.

SIP, on the other hand, empowers your contact center far beyond incremental improvement and gives you an advanced, multi-dimensional palette. Your business gains a tremendous edge by initiating meaningful and immediate communications. For example, you can leverage presence to invigorate teamwork and look at customer service in an entirely new light.
Now your employees can work anywhere — even at home — and have a superb set of tools at their fingertips. SIP facilitates collaboration by adding presence to these tools, so it’s effortless to know which team members or specialists are available right now to help. Whether you utilize IM, video conferencing or white boarding to solve problems, your customers get their answers right away, so first-contact resolution increases and everybody wins.

Your employees can customize presence information so it provides colleagues with more detailed information such as “in a team meeting.” Options are extensive, so they can easily be tailored to your particular situation. Additional personalization features let users manage contact screening, contact logging and picture caller I.D. Individuals can also modify contact routing based upon caller name, number, time-of-day, day-of-week and priority — to ring any communications device or several simultaneously. Additional capabilities provide further flexibility to contact handling, so many situations can be covered. This combination of tools translates into a more adaptable work environment, which boosts your employee productivity.

Strengthen Bonds With Your Customers
It’s tough to compete if your business can’t intelligently and effectively handle customer requests and provide unique proactive services that impart superior value. SIP makes this much easier than before. For example, you could integrate video kiosks into your current contact points and significantly enhance service. Connecting your customers and employees via video helps you convey very complex information faster and more clearly. Video engages customers and increases understanding, and seeing eye-to-eye builds trust that strengthens bonds.

Demonstration and discussion replace description. You can supply advanced technical help, expand self-service options considerably, review products, fill out applications or provide more complex services. And, with video, customer identification is instantaneous, which improves security. Your objective is to offer the same superior service to all your customers effortlessly no matter what device your customer uses. Help customers immediately and you positively affect your customer retention and loyalty notably while reducing your operating costs — an extremely beneficial combination to your business.

With SIP, instantaneous collaboration using any device is automatic and device-independent, so you don’t have to worry about how your customers and employees connect. Need to move from a phone call to interactive video during an interaction? It’s effortless, because SIP lets you adapt dynamically. Additionally, once you have a SIP-based contact center, you can make wait time more advantageous to your customers and your business. You can clarify technical issues or deliver better instructions using video messaging. Offer personalized music options, present forms to fill in or deliver customized video clips. Because you craft individual, contextual treatments, these become unique, relevant opportunities that customers appreciate and your business optimizes each interaction. This is just the beginning of the tremendous versatility SIP demonstrates. Invest in SIP for your contact center and your business will gain an agile foundation for ongoing innovation and competitive advantage.

Invest In Your Customers For Competitive Advantage
Your customers don’t want to wait, and neither should you. When you invest in SIP for your contact center, you invest in your customers, too. Expand opportunities for richer, dynamic collaboration and help your business solve problems, make decisions immediately and exceed customer expectations. Strengthen bonds and build trust when your business transforms your contact center from merely talking to working together with customers to respond right now.

SIP empowers your contact center far beyond incremental improvement and gives you advanced, multi-dimensional communications immediately. SIP minimizes the previous hurdles to richer, more dynamic multimedia communication like video and Web collaboration and frees you from device dependence, so your contact center can maximize flexibility and optimize SIP empowers your contact center far beyond incremental improvement
and gives you advanced, multi-dimensional communications immediately.
effectiveness. You’ll eliminate wasted time, be able to find the best expert to answer customer questions, invigorate teamwork to boost productivity and become more relevant, valuable and unique to your customers. Ultimately, SIP facilitates customer-focused innovation so your business forms profitable long-term relationships for ongoing competitive advantage. CIS

By Betsy Wood and Shane O’Neill

Betsy Wood is currently an Evangelist with Nortel (www.nortel.com) Multimedia Applications, where she is part of a global team helping companies foster customer relationships and enhance teamwork. She is a frequent speaker and writer about the strategic value of collaborative customer contact to businesses.

Shane O’Neill, Product Manager, has worked for the past 10 years with Nortel. During this time, he has held a variety of product management roles in Unified Messaging, Contact Center and Unified Communications.

SIP In The Real World

Following are some real-world examples of how SIP can benefit various businesses.

• Utilizing SIP, a bank can provide help and more complex services like loans at current ATM   locations, and customers can reach anyone at the bank for a video conference. Customers like the   new options, so retention is increased, and banking services are expanded significantly without   building new branches.

• A mobile phone provider offers the same level of superior service for video calls as it does today for   phone calls. Service is further enhanced by delivering personalized, informational video clips,   podcasts and/or video messages to the same mobile phone customers.

• A rural medical clinic provides better patient care by using video calls to help with diagnosis. This   keeps patients close to home, causing less stress on the patient and his family.

• A large building supply store has experts available to consult with customers during home   improvement projects. Tough problems get solved right away, reducing the pressure on customer   service reps and making customers much happier.

• A real-estate agent helps her clients preview homes and/or fill out mortgage applications to save   time. Better up-front qualification increases the agent’s sales ratio. This entire package of services   gets rave reviews from her clients and results in many referrals.


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