In order to get to grips with the detail of unified communications in the contact center, we need to look beyond the marketing hype.
The question when assessing unified communications has moved beyond ‘find me a vendor that delivers feature X’ to ‘find me a solution that integrates with our legacy infrastructure, enables easy collaboration, and connects customers to our potentially farflung workforce in the manner and at the time convenient for them.’
To aid the assessment, the contact center industry should be asking its UC vendor community for detail on how their technology can provide solutions to challenges, such as those above, specific to the contact center.
In our view, the key challenge facing contact centers today is to be able to deliver new contact channels quickly and effectively without having to make lots of technology changes, or integrate disparate systems. This requirement is driven by customer demand, and legacy telephony architectures just won’t deliver.
So perhaps the first question to ask your vendor in these uncertain times is:
- Can they deliver a UC-capable call center platform without impacting your cash-flow and overall costs of ownership?If you are convinced by the resounding affirmative answer(!) to question 1, here are a few more to try:
- Can all media channels supported by a contact center platform be managed within a single task queueing framework? This is essential for managing workload across different media channels and for reporting / accounting.
- Can presence management be used to contain agents and enforce a mode of operation, rather than provide ballooning contact ‘possibilities’?
- Is queue management and traffic prioritisation media-agnostic? For example, can the platform blend seamlessly and automatically between outbound voice, inbound chat and incoming e-mail processes?
- Does the agent application framework allow the different media channels to be processed with some common standards for session management and look-and-feel?
- Is the contact center platform, and the application framework able to support the behaviour of different types of media? For example, a contact center agent should not as a rule be dealing with more than one voice call at once, but may be able to manage several chat sessions in parallel.Finally, let’s not forget:
- Contact centers are used to having to adopt new media channels for their clients’ business programs. Ask your vendor how their platform enables quick and easy integration of new media channels (without incessant upgrades, risk and cost).