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Fred Knight
Fred Knight was part of the team that launched the VoiceCon Conference in 1990. He served as Program Chairman through...
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Fred Knight | August 29, 2012 |

 
   

The New Contact Center

The New Contact Center With critical developments around cloud, mobility and social, the contact center's role as technology proving ground is likely to expand in the coming years.

With critical developments around cloud, mobility and social, the contact center's role as technology proving ground is likely to expand in the coming years.

The communications environment within contact centers is incredibly complex, and yet, contact centers have played the role of product proving ground for as long as I can remember. And the reason is simple: Hard ROI.

All too often, the claims of ROI depend upon questionable assumptions--each user will save X minutes per day, and if you multiply that across a department or company, the total dollars saved are humongous.

Yeah, right. I respect each member of our team, but if any of them suddenly came up with a spare 5 minutes per day, I doubt that they'd throw every one of those 300 seconds into work-related activity. How about the folks that you work with?

Now people who work in a contact center are just like you and me, but their work requirements are quite different. In a contact center, time really is money. The dollar value of an agent shaving N seconds off a call or being able to quickly move the customer to someone who can resolve a problem or save a sale is measurable and demonstrable.

To find out how contact centers are doing with three key technologies--mobility, social and cloud--we're running a Virtual Event on September 13. The sessions will focus on whether/how these technologies will change the way that contact center business gets done.

Mobile, social and the cloud certainly have the potential to radically alter what traditionally has been a place-bound, system-bound business. And they're making the already-fierce battle for the contact center market even more competitive.

Avaya held the lead for many years, but Cisco has done a tremendous job moving its UC portfolio beyond the general enterprise and into the contact center. Meanwhile, Interactive Intelligence, Aspect and the "new" Genesys retain strong market shares. And they're all looking over their shoulders as Microsoft continues to build an impressive team of partners for an assault on this space.

Meanwhile, the cloud vendors--and these days, isn't EVERYONE a cloud vendor??--also see the contact center market as a major opportunity. Earlier this summer, I visited Twilio only to find that the young company already counts contact centers among its fast-growing list of major customers. Newcomers like Five9 and IntellePeer are also attacking the contact center market with cloud/hosted offerings.

UC is, of course, table stakes for moving to next-gen contact centers. Many contact centers have already become multi-modal operations--they transact business via voice, email, text and, occasionally, video. Click-to-call is becoming more common, but it's cumbersome and it's likely that contact centers will be among the earliest targets for deploying WebRTC. And it's no surprise that the number of customers using a mobile device to access a contact center is growing.

So mobile and cloud are already having a significant influence in contact centers, and social isn't far behind. Many companies monitor Twitter, Facebook and other social networks in order to learn what their customers are saying about them and, if possible, to respond to negative news with an offer or comment that'll help stem the tide. Contact centers are often the public face of a company's marketing or PR campaigns, and the interactions between the public and the contact center provide much of the data that go into measuring a campaign's success or failure.

If anything, the contact center's role as proving ground is likely to expand in the coming years. Please join us at our Virtual Event on September 13; we look forward to your comments, questions and suggestions.



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