Larger pool of skills available
More likely to be able to match the call to the customer effectively. This improves first-call resolution, customer satisfaction and also improves agent morale, as they are able to help more customers first-time. It also means that businesses can route calls based on more detailed criteria than previously, as the available pool of skills is greater (e.g. if there are 5 contact centers, but only 1 person in each contact center speaks a specific language, then it only becomes feasible to offer this as a routable skill once the contact centers are linked together to create a virtual language team)
More balanced work across contact center locations
In a stand-alone multiple contact center environment, there is a very real risk that agents in one contact center will be overworked (leading to stress and increased queue times), whereas those in another may be underused yet unable to help their colleagues. The ability to overflow calls between physical locations is a key advantage of virtual contact centers, which can improve both customer and agent experience
Skills may be widely deployed and managed
Virtual contact centers can look at agent skills and competencies with a view to scheduling staff and routing calls accordingly. This allows specialized virtual teams to emerge
Forecast and schedule only once
Where many contact centers are treated as a single entity, work can be shared across sites as the contact centers are viewed as a single resource. Viewing the operations and skills
available as one entity makes scheduling easier and more flexible. The resource pool is much deeper, allowing customers to be offered more skills, and the time and cost of scheduling is greatly reduced
Increase global coverage
For global businesses which have contact centers spanning distant time-zones, the opportunity exists to create a follow-the-sun contact center, where the customer can be served 24/7, without the need to increase headcount or bear the costs and inconvenience to staff of working anti-social hours
applications in a standardized way
Virtualization can mean that improving and standardizing the functionality available to agents in separate locations can be easier, if solutions which allow remote upgrades are in place. Making the same functionality available to each agent regardless of their location means that a consistent level of customer service and agent experience can be achieved
Offer 24/7 availability and use more flexible and imaginative agent resourcing
Agents which work from home or smaller offices allow the business to expand dynamically, offering 24/7 cover without the cost of keeping the major contact center operation open. Virtual contact center technology also allows businesses to reach out to new labor pools such as the housebound and other non-traditional sources
Allows dynamic choice of outsourcers
If a company uses multiple outsourcers, these outsourcers can bid dynamically for the work available, e.g. the company does 80% of the work with its own people, but outsources the overflow as and when needed
Linking contact centers together has been a complex task, especially in circumstances where the business has multiple types of switch and other infrastructure, perhaps as a result of merger and acquisition history. Recent years, and the widespread take-up of IP-based infrastructure and cloud-based solutions has made such a task easier. Without a solid and scalable platform, separate applications, hardware and locations will remain isolated, or cost so much time and money to integrate that it would be better to leave them alone. Using a single open platform, this investment becomes much lower, and leaves the way open for businesses to add locations, channels and applications as needed. The single open platform should be a concept which is always in the minds of people making decisions about the future of their multi-site, multi-platform operations.
When evaluating virtual contact center technology, it is important to understand the differences between virtualized instances of premise based technology vs. a multi-tenant platform where multiple business units can securely co-exist on a single shared platform. While the former can provide some benefits like reducing hardware overhead and expense, each instance still has to be administered and maintained as if it were its own platform. On the other hand, multi-tenancy provides the same hardware savings, but also enables consolidation of
administration, reporting and many other facets of maintaining virtual contact centers.
Around 40% of US contact centers are part of a multiple-site operation, and as such, are potentially part of a larger virtual contact center structure. 49% of respondents in multi-site contact centers act as part of a full virtual contact center operation, with a further 24% acting as a part of a partial virtual operation (e.g. in cases where a only few of the overall number of US operations are linked together). These figures are very similar to previous years.
Looking at the uptake of virtualization by contact center size, the larger operations have in the past been somewhat more likely to put enabling technology in place to gain further from their existing economies of scale. However, this gap is lessening although with the high proportion of respondents showing a mix of virtual and standalone operations, it would be safe to say that larger operations are still somewhat more likely to have done so.
Figure 57: Virtualization by contact center size (multiple-site operations only)
17% 15% 32% 24% 33% 31% 23% 27% 50% 54% 45% 49% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
Small Medium Large Average