Controlling Contact Centre Chaos with Unified Communications (UC): Aspect Software

Author: Aspect Software

Date: 19th March 2009

Anyone running a contact center is already well aware of the need to provide multiple channels of communication to their customers. For years, every trade show, conference and trade publication has been talking about adding and integrating inbound and outbound telephone channels – or a blend of both - voice portals, email and web interactions in the contact center. Contact center managers know about the potential cost advantages and they’re regularly reminded of customers’ demands to communicate via their choice of channel.

These same contact center managers are also aware, however, of the dark side of comprehensive multimedia contact centers. They have seen the difficulties, through their own or a colleague’s painful experience, of actually implementing and operating one of these centers. What sounds great on paper or in a PowerPoint presentation isn’t necessarily so great in real life.

The typical comprehensive multimedia contact center today is an accumulation of siloed solutions: automatic call distributor (ACD), voice portal, inbound telephone, outbound telephone, email, web chat, quality management, workforce management, often with fax and paper document management systems in the mix as well. The result is a chaotic, inefficient, expensive and frustrating mess for contact centers to implement, administer and maintain. This paper will examine specific problems commonly encountered by contact centers using siloed products and analyze some of the benefits of a unified solution and where it makes the most sense to implement.

Reporting Challenges

To run an effective contact center, accurate and comprehensive reporting is essential. You must know the status of queues, campaigns, agents and other metrics. Generating these reports for a single system can be challenging enough; consolidating them across multiple systems and/or multiple sites can be a nightmare. If an agent spends four hours handling inbound telephone calls, two hours responding to email, plus one hour on web chat sessions, can you easily determine that the agent actually worked seven hours? If a customer requiring technical support sent an email two days ago, conducted a web chat session on the same issue yesterday and followed up with a telephone call today, can you accurately measure the time required to resolve the problem?

One solution to this reporting problem is to build custom interfaces between each disparate point product handling each communication channel. But building these customized integrated interfaces can be cost prohibitive. And this cost is typically ongoing. As each element of the system changes – for example, you upgrade your voice portal or your ACD – the interfaces to other systems may need to be modified. You may well find that a growing portion of your budget is being absorbed by system integration expenses, leaving fewer resources for other priorities. (See diagram 1.) There is a price in terms of time, as well as money. Because of the customized integration work required to build and maintain multiple interfaces between disparate systems, implementing upgrades and adding new capabilities is delayed.

Total Customer View

A typical problem in a contact center handling multiple customer contact channels is consolidating all relevant information in a single place where the agent can actually use it effectively. Too often, if a customer participates in a web chat, then sends an email and then follows that with a telephone call, the contact center sees three customers, not one. The agent handling the last contact, the phone call, is completely unaware of the web session or the email. The lack of consolidated information is frustrating to the agent and to the customer, and can impact both the contact center’s resources and the overall customer experience.

Controlling the Chaos – The Unified Solution

Managers do have an alternative to the chaos of a multimedia contact center comprised of siloed products. They can opt instead to implement a unified solution. A unified solution provides all elements required to run a comprehensive multimedia contact center within a single platform. All the functionality – ACD, outbound dialing, self-service, email, web, fax, quality management, monitoring and recording – is inherently built into the system. (See diagram 2.)

Aspect Software

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