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UC Friday: UC and the Contact Center - Please!

This morning I spent a very frustrating two hours dealing with - you guessed it - customer service and several contact center agents. I needed to contact my health insurance company to find out about coverage for a prescription that my pharmacist said wasn't covered by my plan. My contact center experience started off fine - the company's speech recognition system understood me and I was transferred to an agent relatively quickly. The first agent I spoke with wasn't able to help me, so she transferred me to another division of the company. The transfer went smoothly and I was quickly connected to another agent. But he wasn't able to solve my problem either, and gave me a different number to call. I was quickly connected to an agent who informed me that she had no idea why I was transferred to her company since they had nothing to do with my situation. Sigh.

I called back the original number and tried again and was connected to another agent. After a few minutes it became clear that this agent wasn't able to help solve my problem either, and needed to transfer me to her supervisor. By this point I was getting pretty frustrated, but at least I was being bumped up to the supervisor level - or so I thought.

Here's where UC would have made the situation better - the agent transferred me to her supervisor, but the supervisor was out of the office and I got sent to his voice mailbox instead (by this time I lost my cool and left a pretty nasty voice mail message). Then I had to call back the original number and start all over again.

Presence and UC capabilities could have really made a difference in my customer experience. Had the agent been able to view her supervisor's presence and availability status, she would have known that he was out of the office or unavailable, and would not have blindly transferred me to his voice mail, thus preventing me from losing my cool. Once she saw that this person wasn't available to help me, she should have been able to search for someone who could help, based on the required skills and availability status. For example, with the right UC tools, she should have been able to search for another supervisor or an "expert" in the area of prescription benefits. Once she found the expert or another supervisor based on skill, she could have sent them an instant message explaining my problem while I was still on the phone with her. The expert could then either send a response via IM providing the agent with the information I needed, or the agent could have set up a three-way conference call between the three of us. Either of these options would likely have helped to resolve my problem. But instead of achieving first contact resolution, the company achieved fifth contact resolution (not to be confused with the desired FCR), and a very angry customer.

The contact center is a perfect starting point for unified communications within an organization, and its use would go a long way in helping to improve customer satisfaction. Companies like Genesys, Mitel, Nortel, Siemens, and others have been working with customers to UC-enable the contact center and beyond. As a consumer I applaud these efforts. I just hope more customer service organizations will heed the call and start moving to make the customer experience less frustrating and more satisfying.