Leverage Your Business Data with Communications-Enabled Business Processes!

By TMCnet Special Guest
David Schenkel, Senior Technology Analyst, ADTRAN
  |  August 01, 2010

This article originally appeared in the August 2010 issue of Unified Communications magazine.

Businesses large and small alike spend a lot of time and energy (not to mention their hard-earned cash) tracking their operations and customers in some type of database. These databases contain critical business information driven by line of business applications such as enterprise resource planning, supply chain management, customer relationship management, or vertical market applications such as those used in the health care and education sectors. All of that data is just sitting there, so why not make better use of it? UC can leverage that data using communications- enabled business processes to improve dramatically customer service levels while reducing costs, with ROIs in as little as 90 days.

Although not yet recognized as a primary driver for UC in a recent survey (only 4 percent of respondents identified CEBP-type applications as the primary driver for their UC deployments), some of the most dramatic results we’ve seen come from CEBP applications that not only generate a fast ROI but relieve significant pain points for organizations. The current low adoption rate is, however, actually good news for businesses that understand the value of CEBP and other aspects of UC and are deploying them now. Why? These businesses will likely get a two-to five-year competitive advantage from using this technology ahead of their competition.

Capabilities such as sophisticated auto-attendants; interactive voice response; notification, paging and alerting; and call pre-screening and redirection services are all part of CEBP. 

Previously thought to be usable only by large enterprises due to cost and complexity, CEBP is now feasible for even the smallest organizations as part of affordable all-in-one UC solutions such as ADTRAN’s (News - Alert) NetVanta UC, or by using add-on CEBP products and hosted services that can be integrated into most UC solutions. And like most other aspects of UC, CEBP can be implemented using a blend and extend strategy on your existing TDM, hybrid or IP PBX (News - Alert).

So, how can you apply CEBP to leverage your business data? First, spend a bit of time to become familiar with the capabilities and benefits of the various aspects of CEBP, and then consider how you might apply them to your own business operations. Working with a trusted expert that is familiar with your business processes, such as a reseller, systems integrator or consultant, is a good way to find your first CEBP application. Every business has its own unique business processes, so CEBP solutions always contain unique aspects that require some level of customization for each business. The trick is to use CEBP to make existing business processes work better rather than changing them to use a standardized prebuilt process that may not be suitable. CEBP generates an ROI by either reducing the staff time to interact with callers or to make calls, or to direct calls more efficiently, allowing you to reallocate staff to higher-value duties, while providing 24x7 customer self service. To pick an initial CEBP application, look for high volume, repetitive business processes that involve the following list of interactions with employees, customers or suppliers:

-providing or acquiring information in response to callers (such as to place/confirm/change orders, check/change inventory /job/order/appointment status);

-proactively contacting customers or employees (for surveys, collections, appointment reminders, warnings, notifications, paging, etc.); or

-directing calls to appropriate workers (for sales, support, customer service. etc).

Hopefully, some of the following common ways to leverage data using CEBP will give you some ideas that you can apply to your own business. Happy hunting for a CEBP application with a great ROI for your business!

Auto-Attendants: Uses CRM and other databases to provide a unique set of responses to each caller such as press nine to reach the last person you last called – Sue Jones, or press one to reach your account manager – John Smith, or change call routing based on customer importance.

Automated Agents: Automate customer requests to receive or provide you with information reducing staff time and speeding response to customers while providing 7x24 service. Great for providing health care test results, financial information, and student report card information, or allowing clients to re-order prescriptions or change appointments.

Talking Property: This lets you provide information to callers about real estate, rentals, equipment, vehicles, etc., while enabling client follow-up requests. Great for applications like a talking house for real estate brokers or talking car for car dealers.

Call Pre-Screening and Redirection: Directs calls according to user and database-controlled policy. Useful for directing calls to after hour’s on-duty personnel, follow-the-sun redirection to a site in a workday time zone, or to back up staff/teams when key staff becomes unavailable.

Telephone Notification: Delivers time-critical information to clients and suppliers. This is useful during emergencies, product updates and announcements, appointment reminders for service businesses and health care, absence reporting for education, and for payment reminders that help you reduce past due account balances.

Telephone Surveys: Automatically survey client service experience following orders, installations, or on-site repair.

Automated Paging: Useful for centrally managing and generating scheduled announcements, and emergency notifications for education, retail and transportation applications.

David Schenkel (News - Alert) is senior technology analyst with ADTRAN (www.adtran.com).

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Edited by Stefania Viscusi