A quick scan of the unified communications software market reveals a marvellous and myriad selection of unified communications solutions.
There is plenty of evidence out there to show that unified communications has substantial business benefits to offer the contact center. But how do you separate the actual benefits from the hype, and how have contact centers coped for so long without it? Here’s a little history
Ten years ago, the contact center industry didn’t have usable IP telephony platforms and ‘presence’ was just primitive busy lamp applications. But mature contact centers still handled e-mail, paper correspondence, fax, etc, and we developed strategies for managing traffic flows on all of these media channels.
That may have been OK back then, but over the last 10 years the contact center industry has seen a huge increase in capacity, largely as a result of attempts to drive business efficiency by concentrating communication to a relatively small number of specialists (agents!).
Contact centers now have to cope with a bewildering array of contact channels for each agent. Some centers manage well, others don’t.
So, unifying contact channels on the desktop is potentially benefit number 1. But isn’t there more to unified communications than that?
Well, yes, but not everything under the banner of unified communications is necessarily useful in a contact center environment. For example, a solution that delivers an IP telephony or messaging presence through several different media endpoints (even if integrated in the GUI), with no direct call center control, brings little or no benefit.
And the likely forthcoming integration of social media into unified communications apps may be more of a nightmare for the contact center manager than a dream come true.
In order to fully realise the benefits of unified communications in the contact center, careful assessment must be made and the detail of proposed solutions scrutinised. And for that we must look beyond the hype (“Our technology does X, Y and Z!”) at the detail of how they solve actual business problems.
The trouble is that detail can be hard to come by. Solutions can sometimes resemble a 25-year-old Cadillac: looking great from a distance but rather less than ‘unified’ when you get up close. Suppliers aware of this can often gloss over the detail, or shroud it in mystery.
In our next post, we suggest some searching questions to ask unified communications vendors (ourselves included!) aimed at revealing their true value as potential solutions to real business problems.