Info overload haunts call centres

Posted by Karl Reed

Contact centre managers face a daunting challenge in data reporting due to the explosion of communication channels in the industry.

This is according to Karl Reed, sales and marketing director at Elingo, who believes system integration is key to dealing with the challenges posed by multi-channel communication in the contact centre industry.

According to Reed, in the pre-Web 2.0 world, the focus was almost exclusively on measuring the average speed of answer for voice calls.

“But now that multiple channels have become the norm, the complexity of the reporting challenge is ballooning, as managers are spending inordinate amounts of time collating data from each channel in Excel spreadsheets.

“In this environment, the big challenge is to understand both the volume and the nature of interactions handled by the contact centre each day,” he says.

Reed also points out that the time contact centre managers are spending trying to marry statistics – from their PBX, mailboxes, fax in-boxes and out-boxes, social media channels and SMS channels – should be spent on motivating and guiding staff, and ensuring customers are receiving consistent, high quality service.

Centre integration

However, he notes this can only be possible if the contact centre is being governed by an integrated system that reports seamlessly across every interaction channel.

“To some IT managers, this will sound like a nightmare in the making because often businesses use disparate IT systems for routing e-mails, faxes, SMS’s and voice calls into and out of their organisations.

“In an optimised communication environment, all interactions are routed and queued through a single system,” Reed adds.

He also explains that this centralisation caters to measurement across every different communication channel and creates a high level platform from which decision-makers can develop their understanding of the business and customer service.

In agreement, Paul Fick, MD of Spescom DataFusion, says contact centres need to implement technologies that can handle automatic multi-channel classification and prioritisation.

He explains that when a contact centre is prepared to satisfy these needs, it drastically improves its customer satisfaction, optimises resources, reduces costs and, in most cases, significantly improves productivity.

“To achieve this goal, organisations need to choose an integrated suite which is able to efficiently handle phone calls, e-mails, faxes, SMS, Web chats, Web call back and social media and, in addition, provide support to handle administrative tasks,” he says.

Fick adds that it is just as critical for contact centres to look towards implementing a flexible module that manages their inbound voice communications, allowing easy integration with corporate tools such as customer relationship management applications and databases.

Intelligent routing

Another important tool, Fick explains, is an intelligent routing module, which enables contact centres to route any multimedia customer interaction to the most appropriate agent.

“Every interaction that arrives independently of the channel has to be routed according to a set of business rules that is fully synchronised with the automatic call distribution engine.

“On top of this framework, organisations need additional modules that can be integrated 'out-of-the-box', extending the solution's capabilities to handle all actual and future channels, allowing for interaction with customers on a fully-blended environment,” he notes.

According to Dean Young, head of telecommunication pre-sales at T-Systems SA, unified communications and collaboration (UCC) forms an integral part of companies' efforts to simplify and integrate their communications.

He says this improves response times, mitigates unnecessary expenditure and enhances productivity.

“Simplified UCC represents the integration of real-time communication such as IP, telephony, instant message, presence information and video conferencing with non-real-time communication services such as unified messaging – the integration of voicemail, e-mail, SMS and fax.

Analyst firm Gartner says there are six tools that form an essential part of a balanced portfolio of UC solutions: telephony, conferencing solutions, messaging, IM, UC clients and interfaces.

Young notes that telephony ranges from PBX and IP-PBX to IP telephony, fixed and mobile phones and video telephony.