IP Contact Centers And The Agile Company
By Rich Tehrani, Group Editor-in-Chief
Customer Interaction Solutions® magazine
The contact center has long been looked upon as a cost center in an organization. This stigma is what has kept many organizations from investing more heavily in this area of their business. The introduction of technologies like VoIP are changing the landscape, allowing a corporation to use technology to differentiate itself from its competition and do business in entirely news ways.
Perhaps the least overlooked benefit of adding IP to the contact center is the power that is unleashed upon the knowledge workers in an organization. Today’s mobile workforce is an underused asset in most contact centers, as most call center technology requires agents in a queue to be sitting at a desk with a fixed telephone and a computer.
Voice over IP technology changes the above paradigm, allowing knowledge workers to travel around the world yet still be considered part of the virtual contact center. IP-based solutions allow these workers to roam where their jobs take them, yet still remain a vital, central part of the contact center.
Another area of enhanced integration when contact centers embrace IP is the field sales force that typically is considered a separate business unit in many organizations. Seamless connectivity including conferencing and collaboration with customers, partners, agents and field teams means increased service levels and higher sales.
Virtual Contact Centers
IP allows contact centers to function in ways never before possible, such as allowing agents to work from home and contact centers to be linked together in a loose network that appears a cohesive whole from a management perspective and to your customers.
Once IP enters the call center, it transforms into a living, thriving contact center and allows organizations to meet the needs of their customers in the manner to which they are becoming accustomed. Customer preference, whether it’s e-mail, chat or even video, can now be met on a case-by-case basis. Better yet, the proper resources to handle each mode can be located anywhere there is an Internet connection.
One of the often overlooked benefits of VoIP in contact centers is the ability to use it to monitor agents in ways that are far superior to traditional telephony. In fact, IP by its very nature is an excellent technology that allows information to be recorded and shared from anywhere.
New Ways Of Doing Business
What we are seeing in business today is the advent of differentiation via channel expansion. A company like Apple leveraged a product, the iPod, to help it build a retail channel to in turn sell its legacy computer products. This channel is being used as a differentiator by more and more companies. Consider the example of satellite radio operators opening kiosks in malls.
What would happen if IP contact centers were used to change the way rental car companies did business? What if the rental company could have video screens at airport counters instead of agents behind a counter, linking the customer to a remote agent? Is it really necessary to have a physical agent present? What if certain ATM machines in a grocery store could have a virtual banker available to ask questions and buy additional services? What about a healthy food manufacturer putting a video kiosk in a supermarket, or a consumer electronics company setting up a kiosk in Office Depot?
VoIP in the contact center is about saving money, increasing flexibility and even differentiating your company from your competitors. The incredible power the Internet affords an individual is dwarfed by the opportunity and flexibility afforded to an entire contact center full of agents and, most important, the organization for which the agents work. IP allows for new, unimagined ways of doing business and, most important, it allows your company to do business in the manner your customers need most.
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