Survey Validates Value of UC in the Contact Center

Aspect Software recently commissioned a study to look at opportunities to improve customer service through unified communications (UC). Aspect retained Leo J. Shapiro and Associates LLC of Chicago to conduct the survey of 50 contact center supervisors and 50 contact center agents at the end of 2007. The findings of the study clearly identify customer service stumbling blocks that could be overcome by the deployment of UC in the contact center.

The Aspect study found that, according to the supervisors and agents interviewed, 10.3 percent of all telephone inquiries handled on a daily basis required assistance from knowledge workers outside of the contact center. When these calls requiring outside help occur, the study reports that one of two things generally happen:

  • Contact center personnel place the customer on hold while they seek the expertise required, then relay that information to the customer secondhand; or
  • Contact center personnel attempt to resolve the customer issue to the point that outside expertise is needed, and then the customer call is transferred to the knowledge worker for resolution.

I submit that a third scenario is also possible – that the customer service rep takes the information from the customer and promises a call-back once the answer can be gleaned from the appropriate resources. In any case, these scenarios negatively impact two important contact center performance metrics; average call handle time, also known as average handle time (AHT), and first call resolution (FCR). An increase in AHT or a decrease in FCR can both be detrimental to the operational performance and customer service levels of the typical customer care center.

The Aspect-sponsored Shapiro study found that the average call was increased by approximately 2.5 minutes each time a knowledge worker outside the contact center was required to in order to resolve a customer inquiry. Although the study didn’t pinpoint how much of that 2.5 minutes was spent searching for the knowledge worker and how much was spent on the phone with the customer, we can reasonably assume that a good percentage of that time, perhaps as high as half of that time, was spent searching for and connecting to the knowledge worker outside of the contact center.

If that one-to-1.5 minutes spent searching for a resource could be reduced or eliminated through the use of such UC-enabled solutions as Presence, the cost savings and increased productivity could be significant. Think of the number of calls your own call center handles each day and what might be saved by shaving a minute or more off of ten percent of those calls. Although this is conjecture, it still serves to illustrate a point: UC in the contact center comes with a built-in return on investment (ROI) that is not only demonstrable; it is enough to make even the most hard-hearted CFO take notice.

Full details of the Aspect Software survey are available at www.aspect.com.

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