Things to consider when procuring your next-generation contact centre
By Andy Bull, managing director of Mitel South Africa.
Contact centres and finding the right solution is all about the detail. Every contact centre is different; the complexity and sophistication of the solution needed is entirely dictated by the specific business needs and vertical sector you operate in; there really is no one-size-fits-all.
Without a tailored solution, you risk paying for more than you need or being left without functionality that your business would really benefit from. It's not all about size either; in our experience, some businesses require straightforward solutions such as intelligent call routing to agent groups, while others operate in very complex environments, even in 30-to-50-seat centres. The requirements can include everything from sophisticated interactive voice response, predicative dialling and agent scripting functionality, as well as multimedia call routing, says Andy Bull, managing director of Mitel South Africa.
More than just voice
The need for a contact centre to support blended multimedia technologies such as e-mail, fax, SMS and social media, along with traditional voice, is no longer an option for many enterprises, and in some cases, it is becoming a strategic imperative. Tech-savvy consumers with an inseparable connection to technology are forcing enterprises to change the way they conduct business; customers are no longer satisfied with limited contact options.
Social media, for example, has become a service channel as a result of customer uptake rather than businesses' enthusiasm for a cheaper service channel, but it's vital for businesses to maintain best-practice standards across every channel. Inconsistent quality and response times on Twitter are just as damaging as poor phone service, so an integrated solution that enables businesses to monitor and manage these channels collectively is an important tool in any multi-channel strategy.
Virtualising the contact centre
If you haven't already, considering a cloud-based contact centre solution should really be on the agenda for organisations of all sizes. Any business with agent resources deployed across multiple sites should consider how virtualisation and unified communications can consolidate its infrastructure into its own or a third-party data centre, to start making intelligent use of the WAN.
Consolidating your infrastructure into a data centre can ensure you have far more control over how calls are routed effectively to the agents distributed across your network. It also opens up a whole host of possibilities for delivering improved customer service and optimising and consolidating contact centre resources.
For smaller businesses with limited budgets, a hosted solution can change procurement from a capital to operational expense based on a cost-per-seat-per-month model. This model also gives smaller businesses access to functionality that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive to them, and means they may no longer need in-house technical staff to manage the infrastructure, as it's all done offsite.
Virtualise your workforce
The benefits of a virtual contact centre solution can go far beyond cost savings and ease of management. The next generation of workers is shaping up to be a flexible, virtual entity, with a 'human cloud' workforce replacing the traditional office-based set-up, and the rewards for both businesses and workers alike could be huge.
Remote agents can work anywhere, which can increase job satisfaction and significantly broadens the talent pool beyond a business' region, making it easier to recruit higher-calibre staff. Adapting to fit this model is especially important for contact centres since customer satisfaction is correlated to agent performance, and staff turnover can be so high.
Businesses can save significantly on office leases, and flexible options can also mean workers are more open to work reduced or split shifts, so the business can adapt to peaks and troughs far more easily. With everything still managed centrally, there's no admin headache.