Many organizations have a front office contact center that deals with customer interactions on a daily basis, and a back office that deals with the outcomes of those interactions. They may involve a product or service experience or a new order, or just a customer seeking more information. Whatever the conversation was about, this creates a disconnect between these two fundamental groups in many companies today.
What these companies want to achieve is a more productive environment where customer service is improved, costs are lower and easy to manage and use. They also want the solution to be adaptable so that when businesses change, the solution can change with them. In essence they want to have a customer centric organization that views the value chain they are involved in from a customer perspective, always aware of the needs of their patrons.
The use of Unified Communication in the back office has accentuated the ridge between these two groupings. Contact Centers employ advanced technology that routes customer contacts to staff skilled to reply and handle them. They have special desktop applications that integrate to CRM applications containing customer specific information. These solutions employ advanced algorithms to identify the best place to route the customer and they provide real-time and historical data on each specific decision made. Back office staff was introduced to Unified Communication applications, which enabled those users to communicate using a desktop application, sending Instant Messages and talking using their computer, or even dialing directly from other applications. But did these systems talk to each other? No, vendors could argue that the two have such different requirements that they should be separate.
But companies that provide advanced products or services, must often involve subject matter experts to provide excellent customer service. The challenge then is that the customer service representative works in one system and the expert is connected to another system. This is where the problems occur – when managing multiple systems, with different applications and ways of working, and forcing users to communicate via multiple applications. Often information about the call, statistics, and recording etc. is lost when they need to move a call between these two solutions. The situation is even more complex when involving a chat session.
In a recent article, (Getting to the core of UC part 2) I discussed this specific issue of how to tie a company’s front office together with their back-office. I found that this is an issue for many organizations. I was recently introduced to a company that had these exact challenges. The company had multiple PBX systems, a Microsoft OCS solution for their back office and contact center systems from other vendors. They began a streamlining project and now use Microsoft Lync as their back office solution to allows users to communicate via their soft phone or a mobile phone. All of the users use Lync for their internal calls, and about 80% use it for their external calls as well, which saves a lot of money for the company.
The company refreshed their global multinational contact center, which now relies on the Interactive Intelligence Customer Interaction Center (CIC) integrated directly with their Lync solution. The customer has integrated the contact center desktop client to their CRM system to allow direct access to customer information, in addition to live information from the Lync system. Contact center agents can contact anyone in the company via Lync and connect them with the customer. The call recording is kept going even when the call is transferred to an expert outside of the contact center, and the company gets full statistics and information about the call, and can even monitor how the interaction is proceeding in real time.
The call center uses Lync for its voice path, on over 450 computers in 23 different countries. They have deployed a multi-lingual IVR in the same infrastructure that shares the same Microsoft environment on virtualized servers so that IS/IT can save on resources and focus their competence on a single architecture.
In an earlier article I wrote for Customer Inter@ctions magazine, I challenged those in the industry to innovate. This is a very good example of how Interactive Intelligence has innovated the front office by integrating it with a back office unified communications solutions.
UC is not about packaging features we already know and use. UC is about doing it better, innovating instead of doing things as we always have. Contact centers have innovated the market up to now, lets take it another step!