Branch- or store-based staff
Knowledge workers / experts based elsewhere in the organisation
Knowledge workers can be incorporated into the contact center on a part-time basis, without actually becoming a customer service agent. 'Presence management' links workers from diverse back office departments into the contact center by allowing communication and collaboration across sites and functions. Presence management shows if a user is available to communicate via a specific medium, such as instant messaging, email, telephony etc. Availability can be defined either by the knowledge workers themselves, or via device detection. It is possible to route calls to experts using the same criteria as in the contact center.
Presence can be seen as an extension of multi-channel contact routing by being integrated into software-based contact routing solutions, and can take multimedia routing further, particularly in a SIP environment where presence can be detected in a greater variety of modes.
There are, of course, some potential dangers:
• Highly-paid knowledge workers may be overworked by the demands and interruptions placed on them by agents, and become less productive
• Most collaborative tools include directory search, instant messaging and presence for every individual, however, it is skill sets rather than names that should be used, to discourage dependency on one expert. Intelligent routing should be used to govern requests for help to experts, creating routing rules to decide when experts should be used, and at what times. This should have the benefit of keeping the knowledge workers onside, and not choosing to show their presence as unavailable to avoid interruptions. Each skill area or department could offer a schedule to make sure that someone is available for the contact center, thus ensuring the privacy of the others in that virtual team.
IP AND CONVERGENCE
Traditional contact centers operate their telephony functions in a circuit-switched telephony environment, where a fixed, dedicated line is left open between caller and agent. Running alongside this, a packet-switched data network breaks up any data (e.g. a customer record to go along with the phone call), sends it in packets along many routes, and reassembles it at the destination in the right order.
IP contact centers differ from traditional PBX-centric operations in that voice traffic is converted into packets of data and carried around the contact center (or between contact centers) on a data network, rather than a voice network. There are two types of IP contact centers: those running on an IP-only architecture, and those running a hybrid environment, where both IP and traditional circuit-switched infrastructures are used.
However, all IP-enabled contact centers are not the same. A distinction should be made between the type of IP systems where there is still some need for proprietary equipment and software to communicate, and “Open IP”, which is entirely open standards-based and will allow any standard-based application or piece of infrastructure to communicate with another.
There are many reasons to consider changing from a traditional to an IP contact center, including:
• The use of common protocol (IP) and the growth of key standards such as SIP allow rapid development of new application functionality
• IP enables virtual contact centers, homeworking and the remote office model
• IP promotes the successful take-up and management of multimedia customer interactions • More affordable functionality is made available to smaller contact centers
• IP reduces the cost of maintaining two networks
• There is more flexibility to add and change agents in an IP environment • There is a reduction in call charges between sites via IP trunking • IP supports reduced staff attrition through allowing flexible working
• The boundaries between contact center and the wider business are breaking down, and IP is a common theme across all parts of the enterprise
• IP infrastructure may be cheaper to upgrade than a circuit-switched platform.
The use of IP within the contact center has been present for some years now, and despite the relatively slow start to IP implementation, IP is now an integral, mainstream and strategic part of the contact center industry. Moving contact center operations to an open IP environment should be seen as a strategic enabler, rather than just an obvious cost-cutting exercise. It is very difficult to put a number on the really important pieces, which are the business functionality improvements, but over time these will be far more important than short-term costs or savings that are associated with IP.
The key to understanding the real value of IP is through how it enables functionality to be deployed quickly and effectively regardless of physical location. Put simply, completely and genuinely adopting open standards means that contact centers release themselves from high maintenance costs associated with proprietary systems, and can choose the applications that exactly suit their needs at the time. Standards-based IP solutions are the closest the industry has come to being truly able to future-proof their contact centers.
In the following diagram which represents a likely return on investment scenario for an IP contact center, the initial capital outlay can be considerable, and far outweighs the immediate savings made from reduced telecom costs. However, over time, the business benefits from IP’s greater openness and flexibility, allowing it to be more innovative and responsive. Costs are reduced as the system beds in, allowing maintenance of a single network. Over time, the benefits keep accruing, making the quantitative return on investment take longer than in most IT projects, but deliver greater benefits for longer.
cable&wireless customer service call center contact center customer experience customer satisfaction customer engagement strategy technology call recording avaya genesys cisco verint nuance queuebuster call volumes call queues call waiting call handling call back queue management music on hold call center agent training speech analytics self service IVR IN multi channel multimedia migration transformation automation virtual social media visual video interaction connect customer connect citizen complete contact customer council front office PCI compliance integration competitive advantage workforce optimization workforce management offshoring outsourcing telemarketing agents scripts inbound outbound CRM CTI computer telephony integration headsets
Saving / revenue increase Cost Cumulative effect TIME FI N A N C IA L E FF EC TS +ve -ve
High initial CapEx
on network and phones decrease due to single networkOngoing operating costs Some return on lower
SIP – Session Initiation Protocol
Advances in standards such as the Session Initiation Protocol (RFC 3261) enable telephony applications to interface with each other and provide functionality that used to be only available using proprietary infrastructure hardware. • Widely regarded as the successor to H.323 for IP-based telephony
• Gaining increased attention and visibility due to major technology solution providers • An alternative to TAPI-based IP telephony models
• A protocol that removes the need for a separate IP-PBX and contact center solution
• The emerging standard for session control for a variety of media - greater flexibility and more scalability than many alternative multimedia communication protocols in use today
• Software-based, open and lightweight, allowing organizations of all types to support the new breed of SIP phones along with soft phones, analogue phones, desktop PCs, and even mobile devices and PDAs
• SIP also provides strong support for real-time voice communications, text-based messaging and application sharing – SIP can initiate real-time, multimedia sessions that seamlessly integrate voice, data and video Open systems allow customers to select non-proprietary hardware and software for queuing, routing and applying treatments to interactions. This means that future contact centers will be free of the restrictive nature of
proprietary systems, and able to develop and deploy applications which may have previously been too complex to integrate or maintain cost-effectively. The widespread use of a truly open standard will encourage application developers to push functionality boundaries further as time-to-market should be significantly decreased because integration will become much easier.
It is important to understand that there is no CTI link in the SIP world – true interoperability takes care of the integration. This has a distinct cost benefit, a reduction in complexity of deployment and maintenance, and an ability to implement quickly. Through SIP, the value of contact center solutions is moving from routing to applications – not so much “how shall we do it?” as “what shall we do?”.
Recently, some vendors have developed unified communication platforms that allow contact center solutions to operate on standard servers with no specialized hardware components, providing an infrastructure that can be supported and maintained by clients’ existing IT staff. This offers an easy path to a software-only platform or to allow hybrid applications where both traditional telephony and software-only SIP environments can be unified for a best-of-breed Unified Communication approach.
cable&wireless customer service call center contact center customer experience customer satisfaction customer engagement strategy technology call recording avaya genesys cisco
Figure 68: Current use of IP, by contact center size
The mantra “evolution, not revolution” is often applied to the IP contact center environment, with vendors encouraging contact centers to consider the option of moving at their own pace towards IP, and this is what has happened in recent years. However, this year's results sees pure IP overtake TDM in our survey for the first time, and it especially prevalent in large contact centers.
In the past, it was usually left to smaller contact centers to use a pure IP solution, as to upgrade or replace equipment and networks is much cheaper for them. The past 3 years have seen a big jump in the proportion of larger contact centers indicating that they are using pure IP, up from 14% in 2007 to 48% now. The movement towards pure IP has been guided by smaller contact centers in past years, with the mid-sized operations joining the party in the past three years, and larger operations getting into pure IP in the recent past, as had been predicted in previous reports.
verint nuance queuebuster call volumes call queues call waiting call handling call back queue management music on hold call center agent training speech analytics self service IVR IN multi channel multimedia migration transformation automation virtual social media visual video interaction connect customer connect citizen complete contact customer council
40% 42% 48% 43% 14% 29% 26% 22% 33% 21% 4% 21% 14% 8% 22% 14% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
Small Medium Large Average