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It’s Not Really A Contact “Center” Anymore

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Enterprises historically communicated with their customers through a centralized Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) tied to a Private Branch Exchange (PBX), with agents and supervisors wired and tethered directly to the PBX.

The environment was truly a Contact “Center.”

Two things have changed this – the emergence of Internet Protocol (IP) based architectures and the business imperative to be more flexible, more responsive, and more efficient.

IP Telephony, today largely based on the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), enables decentralized architectures. This means that branch offices, at home agents, and business partners can be brought into an enterprise contact center. In addition, the open interfaces on contemporary communications systems provide the ability for contact center to integrate with enterprise applications – irrespective of physical location.

Some of the business challenges organizations face today include the need for Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity (BC) planning. IP-based contact centers provide a way to help address these needs by allowing operations to be geographically separated. A weather emergency at one location may shut down operations, while staff at another location picks up the load.

Another challenge for some organizations is difficulty in recruiting a sufficient number of agents in a particular geography. Recruiting agents that can work at home mean an agent can live virtually anywhere. Additional benefits include increased employee satisfaction and greater flexibility in setting staffing schedules.

Some enterprises need to engage knowledge workers in conversations that in the past were confined to the contact center. This has resulted in blurring of the line between agents and knowledge workers – groups that are now often using the same tools for collaboration among themselves and with customers.

Much like enterprises in general, the contact center has enjoyed the benefits of open, distributed, IP-based architectures. As a result, the contact “center” is no longer centralized – it has become an integral part of the enterprise, like many other enterprise applications. Solutions like ShoreTel’s Enterprise Contact Center and cloud-based Callfinity Contact Center were built from the ground up with the flexibility to address these needs.