Unified communications (UC) is currently one of the most hyped subjects in the contact centre space, and if you believe some of the articles written about it you would think it is about to revolutionise the whole way centres work.
Many companies deploy VoIP simply to save on communication costs. Most don’t look beyond these cost savings so are missing out on the additional benefits that a full functional VoIP-based centre could deliver. UC is predicated on having VoIP deployed and then builds from there by taking advantage of what is called presence and collaboration.
Single network for voice and data
The base for UC is having a single VoIP network that supports both voice and data over a single network. In theory this allows all sorts of functionality such as voice-to-text conversion, online directories, etc. In practice most companies use it to save telecommunications costs by routing calls, for free, over the data network. Apart from saving on telecommunications costs, UC can help support the virtualisation of centres and streamlining call hand-off.
Presence may sound quite impressive but in reality, it is the simple ability to recognise who is logged into the network, in much the same way that Skype (a VoIP-based service) allows users to see which of their contacts is online. Presence excels where companies have calls handled outside their formal centre. Within a centre agents are typically logged onto the network, or contact centre management software, and so most companies can tell which agents are logged in and what they are doing – idle waiting to take a call, on a call, completing after-call work, away from their desk, etc. So if an agent cannot resolve a caller’s issue and needs to hand off a call to another agent or supervisor, they can tell who is available. Presence extends this functionality across the enterprise.
Collaboration also sounds quite fancy but in essence it basically allows users to communicate with each other electronically, for example using instant messaging, sharing desktops or web sites. Collaboration takes this one step further. One of the big issues for callers is that having their call passed to someone else usually means starting again; the new person doesn’t get the context of the call and they often don’t have access to the information the previous agent shared with the caller. Most collaboration tools allow the three parties to share the call, so that the agent can give the new person the context of the call and tell them what they have shared up until that point.
One of the key benefits of using UC applications is that customer queries can be dealt with in just one call as agents can work with multiple communication channels simultaneously to find the right answer quickly. For example, the customer can stay on the phone while an agent chats on Instant Messenger to a colleague or supervisor to glean additional information they may need, instead of waiting on hold or being asked to call back later.
A clear and stress-free call is just as important for the customer as the agent, making greater customer satisfaction a desired and likely consequence of introducing UC to the call centre. Wideband headsets also play a key role in increasing agent productivity as voice communication is hugely important for call centre agents. Converging professional headsets with UC applications can boost efficiency as headsets with full wideband capability (up to 6,800KHz) let employees enjoy superior sound quality compared to traditional narrowband telephony, ensuring a clear and satisfying call.
Noise-cancelling microphones and other technologies enhance sound quality resulting in crystal-clear calls so there is no need for agents or callers to repeat themselves. Without a wideband headset the full benefits of VOIP in a UC solution will be lost.
Contact us to find out how Unified Communications can add value and efficiency to your business.