Energy is a powerful force, as Albert Einstein discovered 100 years ago when revolutionizing the world of science with his breakthrough formula, E = MC2. This same force, with the advent of new Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) capabilities, can now be applied to enterprise customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.
With feature-rich VoIP contact center suites, enterprises can now gain tremendous new sources of energy by extending at the speed of light voice, multimedia presence, collaboration, and productivity enhancements throughout the enterprise. Such next generation suites go vastly beyond the province of call centers. They are helping to empower all areas of the enterprise to deliver first contact resolutions, improved organizational effectiveness, and superior levels of customer satisfaction. As an added bonus, many of the next generation VoIP contact center solutions are very easy to use and deploy.
E = MP2 is the new customer relationship management model that organizations must embrace to remain competitive in the future:
E for Enterprise-wide Energy Engagement
M for Multimedia VoIP
P for Productivity and empowerment and, finally, the second
P for Presence-enhanced collaboration.
Heres how the formula works for enterprises with advanced VoIP (define - news -alerts) contact center solutions:
E: Enterprisewide Energy Engagement
Customers have higher expectations. The speed and pace of life and business has many customers unsatisfied and unwilling to accept company delays in resolving issues or providing answers. In the past, an enterprise would not suffer from statements to customers like:
Thats not a question this department can answer, call this new number.
Call us back later. I dont know where the expert is or when shell be back.
I really dont have the authority, so Im transferring you to our Chicago office. When someone answers, tell them your issue or leave a voice mail.
Today, if an enterprise is responding consistently these ways, it is undoubtedly losing money, losing customers, and losing its competitive position.
Many industries are establishing benchmarks and measurements for first contact resolution (FCR), moving away from the old model of average speed of answer (ASA). These businesses are coming to the realization that a key to improving FCR is the engagement of departments and company areas outside of the call center to support and respond to customer requests. Engaging these enterprise areas into the customer contact model in real time is critical to reaching resolution on the first contact. These areas can be as close as subject mater experts who are tightly associated with the call center, or as far away as departments located in other cities and states focused on associated service areas such as billing, collections, downstream processing, or shipping. The concept is to reduce the layers of time, distance, and resources required to meet customer issues and eliminate the need for multiple contacts for the resolution of one issue.
New VoIP contact center solutions are enabling companies to empower all areas of the enterprise to assist in delivering first contact resolution and providing a path for the traditional call center to easily transition into a multimedia contact center.
M: Multimedia VoIP:
Many companies are now adding VoIP into parts of the call center infrastructure. The clearest value proposition for VoIP in the call center has been in extending the call center functionality seamlessly to remote agents and agents working at home. This has allowed companies the flexibility to hire and retain resources needed for the call center. Moving into the future, the next competitive level for VoIP goes beyond voice to embrace multimedia functionalities.
Customers want media options (e-mail, Web chat, and voice, for example) to reach businesses. At the same time, they want the same simplicity and service treatments (like gold card or platinum memberships) that they now receive with voice. Historically, multimedia options for call centers have been bulky adjuncts requiring separate systems, routing strategies, reporting and administration. For the enterprise, this meant extensive integration and support costs. Customers, attempting to use new media options, were left in uncharted waters and they often lost preferred status treatments.
The next generation of multimedia VoIP contact center suite solutions can deliver anywhere in the enterprise inbound voice, Web, chat, e-mail, and outbound voice customer contacts. At the same time, these solutions can utilize the same routing, reporting, CRM strategy, and administration tools across all media. Competitively, this allows enterprises to deploy customer segmentation strategies and treatments consistently across all media. Because these are packaged suites, customization and professional services is greatly reduced, if not eliminated altogether. The extended enterprise also benefits from multimedia options, allowing voice, e-mails, and chat sessions to be extended throughout the enterprise and still be monitored, managed, and reported on. This can provide a new level of flexibility for increasing first contact resolution (FCR).
P: Productivity and emPowerment:
Contact center agents are being asked to shoulder more and more of the daily interaction with customers. For many companies, especially those that are driving more sales through the Internet, a customers interaction with a contact center agent or CSR is often the first contact he has with a real person in the company. Also, for many vertical markets, the agents may be highly paid professionals doctors, nurses, engineers, private bankers, or real estate agents. Today, perhaps more than ever before, enterprises must assume the truth of the old adage that first impressions make for lasting memories.
Like never before, an agents actions will communicate to customers the quality of the company. A positive interaction with a companys contact center, service, or sales representative represents an important opportunity to create a positive perception of the company. Equally and sometimes exponentially worse, a negative interaction with a companys call center creates a negative perception of the company. All agents, including the new extension to white collar agents, expect and need tools and applications that enhance the companys aura of professionalism in the eyes of customers. All of these areas are benefiting greatly from the multimedia VoIP suites.
Todays contact center applications must also coordinate customer data from multiple sources to provide real-time information about overall call center performance (SLAs) as well as individual agent performance (MBOs). Next generation multimedia VoIP contact center suite solutions are also delivering on this. Embedded in these suites, enterprises need IP-based desktop tools with built-in customer data screen pops, real-time agent personal productivity data, connectivity to corporate LDAP directories, streaming desktop ticker tapes showing contact center activity, historical trend data, and real-time linkage to other enterprise applications and scripts. Enterprises should choose multimedia clients that are easy to use and simple to personalize.
P: Presence-enhanced Collaboration:
Contact center agents are the first responders for engaging customers as they enter the enterprise. Often, these first responders need the assistance of others. From a customers point of view, this hand off must be handled quickly and efficiently or the customers urgent need is considered unmet. New multimedia VoIP contact center solutions should come with presence and collaboration features built-in and include specific desktop applications for agents and for employees who work beyond the initial line of response in the contact center.
Such intra-enterprise collaborations are the moments of truth for the contact center and the enterprise, in regards to reaching their first contact resolution (FCR) objective. Having desktop tools that provide real-time presence information about extended enterprise workers is critical. Who is available now, by department or skill set? Which media are they available on, regardless of location? Presence-enabled collaboration answers all these questions in real time and allows the agent, via a single click, to communicate and share data by VoIP and the enterprise WAN. This is real power that creates new customer response energy. Companies throughout the world are using this new paradigm to develop new competitive positions in customer relationship management.
Innovative VoIP Contact Center Solutions
Multimedia VoIP contact center solutions can provide innovative power to enterprises. Traditional call center environments and many vertical markets healthcare and insurance, to name two are reaching beyond the traditional options provided to agents in the past.
Insurance companies are using presence and collaboration tools to empower contact center agents to collaborate with more seasoned colleagues and other knowledge workers to solve customer issues on first response. In the healthcare sector, incoming calls frequently require expertise that goes beyond a call centers capabilities. Several large healthcare enterprises with multiple hospitals has empowered its contact center agents with presence and collaboration tools so that agents can make one-click contact with triage nurses to initiate immediate consultations. The hospitals, as a result, have vastly improved patient service.
One cable entertainment and broadband service provider estimates yearly productivity gains to be about $300,000 thanks to presence-enhanced collaboration tools that link calls center agents with others in the organization via a virtual caller queue display. The company said its average call handling time has been reduced by half.
In response to how he came up with a number of scientific revelations, Einstein said that the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them, he noted.
The enterprise deployment of new multimedia VoIP contact center solutions opens the door for quantum leaps in CRM. A new source of customer response energy is waiting to be tapped for enterprises savvy enough to empower all of its people resources to drive first call resolutions. Einstein would be proud. IT
Al Baker is Vice President of product management for Global eCRM Solutions, Siemens Communications Enterprise Systems. For more information please visit the company online at www.siemens.com (quote - news - alerts).