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Telephony convergence--something for everyone.

For the best part of a decade, businesses have been faced with an ever increasing range of solutions which offer computer-telephony integration but are often dependent upon the type and age of the telephony system they have installed. In certain cases, this has led to the implementation of a CTI solution being so prolonged and complex that it has ceased to be viable. The issue has been further complicated by the development of IP telephony systems which are now seen in many areas as the only way forward for any business seeking to roll out a "world class" contact center.

Add to this the fact that it is only in recent years that vendors have developed solutions which offer fully integrated multimedia support and you can understand why the majority of IT and customer service managers have yet to see the true benefits of such an offering and why many businesses still have a wide range of "contact center" type services such as ACD, IVR and unified messaging provided by different vendor technologies.

This "silo" effect naturally leads to a situation whereby reporting and management issues are complex and the total cost of ownership is often far greater than the business has budgeted for in the first place.

By bringing all of these pieces of the telephony puzzle onto one managed platform, the issues of management and integration are immediately marginalized.

However, simply providing a tightly integrated CTI solution may not be enough. Customer interaction does not just stop when the call arrives at the agent's desk; in fact, it is here that the real value is generated as the agent opens up the appropriate business application to provide the service the caller is seeking.

It is the integration between the multimedia contact center platform and the business application which creates true value. Solutions such as HEAT[R] plus IP Contact Center from FrontRange Solutions do exactly that; by ensuring that the customer, who is contacting the vendor by whatever means (phone, e-mail or Web), is immediately identified and directed to the appropriate customer service agent.

Because the telephony system is integrated into the business application, the agent will be presented with all of the appropriate customer details and importantly, any historical data pertaining to their issue and its current status.

Put simply, the telephony system has been re-enfranchised within the organization and can now be considered a part of the IT infrastructure that is delivering real value rather than just "the grey box in the corner which makes the phones ring".

So, who benefits? In short, everyone. End-users gain from having their inquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently via the channel which best suits them, (And the room for improvement is huge. Recent Infomatics research, for example, found that fewer than one in five calls gets through to the right person the first time.)

Companies also gain in flexibility by adding new offices or supporting at-home working through the creation of virtual contact centers. And, as a software-based solution, maintenance charges are reduced to no more than 20% of the license cost.

Growth in this area is huge and companies recognize that, more than ever, investment in channels of interaction is the way to highlight differentiation and improve customer loyalty and retention levels.

by Mike Heberling, Director of Business Development, FrontRange Solutions Inc.
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Title Annotation:INNOVATIVE IDEAS FROM THE IP CONTACT CENTER EXPERTS
Author:Heberling, Mike
Publication:Customer Interaction Solutions
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Words:554
Previous Article:Prognostications for the future of IP telephony.
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