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Contact Centers Should Seek Unified Communications Solutions

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The way that people communicate is undoubtedly changing. As devices continue to evolve at a rapid pace, connections are being made more frequently through mobile endpoints. The consumerization of IT has afforded vast capabilities to the average user. As common knowledge expands to include more technological prowess, people are expecting to be capable of doing more, especially in the workplace. The business world has taken notice of this, and as a result unified communications initiatives are becoming more standardized every day.

These developments mean big things for companies as a whole, but one area in particular that will benefit from UC adoptions is the contact center. As a data-centric department that deals with many customers over varying telecom platforms, there is an untold number of advantages that can boost the performance of any call center when UC is properly deployed. 

But what is unified communications, truly? According to Melanie Turek, vice president of research for Frost & Sullivan, a large section of IT decision makers across the U.S. and Europe - 42 percent - are unsure of what terms like "UC" even mean. Therefore, they are somewhat in the dark on how to make their businesses run more efficiently by using these advancements.

Enterprise organizations, specifically those operating contact centers, should be interested in investigating the true meaning of unified communications, and how to instate their own strategies to better connect their businesses using tools like VoIP phone service. It will be challenging to make these changes in many instances, but the benefits that can be harnessed by upgrading equipment and services will keep companies relevant and formidable within their respective markets.

Bring-Your-Own-Device And The Virtual Call Center

Leaps and bounds have been made within the last decade regarding mobile technology. With constant connection via smartphones and tablets, the definition of the office is beginning to evolve. 

BYOD advents have been instrumental in what Turek refers to as the "virtual organization." Both mobile-minded employees and the IT departments that oversee them are beginning to feel confident in the capabilities of mobile devices, allowing for more work to be done remotely. In some cases, virtual call centers can be established. While co-workers are not physically in the same room together, the convenience of modern technology has made this option just as viable as the brick-and-mortar solutions used historically.

According to Turek, IT decision makers in the U.S. and the U.K. are taking note of this - at least 62 percent of the enterprise workforce as a whole works out of the office, or at least has the ability to thanks to tools like the cloud based phone system.

Customers Expect Quality Only UC Can Provide

But employees are not the only people who can benefit from unified communications solutions. Contact centers are normally established out of a desire to assist an organization's client base. Traditionally, queries regarding services and product performance have fielded via telephone by a representative trained on the matter in question. But with so many telecom advancements continuing to rapidly crop up around the world, the very nature of call centers is changing. Customers not only want prompt, effective service, but they want it given to them over the communication platform of their choice. This is where unified communications comes in.

Strong UC deployments consist of uniting scores of information and several different mediums in one easily-accessible location. According to Turek, businesses are already using unified communications components like video conferencing around the office every day. Not only that, but more organizations are starting to catch on - the market for softphone technologies and mobile UC clients are expected to see a surge in demand and utilization over the next three years, during which time Turek said cloud computing adoptions will increase by 20 percent. Integrating these services to the contact center - or even introducing them to the business completely - begets an advanced level of productivity in terms of customer relations.

According to Customer Think contributor Jim Rembach, call center interactions can make or break any given company, and adapting to change is essential. Traditional methodology is no longer sufficient on the modern enterprise landscape.



"Contact centers must undergo a dramatic change in priorities, processes, and metrics in their [quality assurance] programs to correct the continual down-slide of the customer experience," Rembach said. "We have to realize that our greatest opportunity to impact this down-slide is with the transformation of contact center quality assurance practices."

Unified communications tools like call center software will be vital to making this a reality.

Proper Data Usage 

With these technological advancements, however, comes responsibility. "Plugging and playing," so to speak, is not synonymous with unified communications solutions. They are tools, and like any other useful instruments, knowing how to use them is tantamount to enjoying their functionality. 

It seems like present-day companies with call centers are taking note of that, absorbing data and utilizing it to improve the customer experience. According to the International Customer Management Institute, 72 percent of organizational contact centers are using collected analytics to both enhance daily operations and the customer experience. Additionally, the study found that 41 percent of these companies use customer information to direct queries through the proper communication channel, be it due to personal preference or the nature of the question at hand. Analytics were also found to be used by 93 percent of respondents for personalized operator training. These kinds of successes, currently being enjoyed by businesses, is thanks in part to unified communications.