Expanding a unified communications (UC) strategy to business processes in the contact center can extend the benefits outside the enterprise to the end consumer, ultimately leading to improved customer satisfaction. But it requires IT groups to look at the technological and architectural considerations that are central to external, customer-facing business processes. Optimizing business processes such as customer service, collections, and sales can result in a rapid ROI, as we observed in our own deployments across our global office locations and contact center sites.
To optimize your ROI from a unified communications strategy, consider the following six steps to deploy in the contact center:
Step No. 1: Determine the goals of your UC strategy
If you haven't developed your UC business plan or set your goals, now is the time to determine what your organization is looking to get out of a UC strategy. This includes evaluating current communication channels and business processes because UC can be a catalyst for new processes that were previously not possible (such as easily contacting people across different departments and functions in virtual locations).
For us, streamlining communications and business processes were key goals, so the contact center played an important role in our UC deployment. We knew our customers would be able to benefit from our planning and deployment, so we incorporated the contact center into our UC strategy from the very beginning of the UC rollout. Lowering costs in terms of maintenance and telephony was another goal, which factors into the next step.
Step No. 2: Review the technical environment and customer interaction model
After determining end goals, review the technical environment and customer interaction model. There are a number of questions that companies need to consider when reviewing infrastructure for a contact center deployment:
1. What are your existing UC solutions today? What capabilities are you providing to your internal users (for example, e-mail, voice mail, presence, Web/video/audio conferencing)?
2. Is your telephony infrastructure aging? Are you planning to integrate your PBX with your UC technology?
3. Have you analyzed your telecom contracts for impact on moving to internal voice over IP (VOIP) or conferencing?
Asking the right questions and evaluating the existing architecture will help a company to determine how the technology will impact various business processes.
For example, in our UC implementation, we reviewed our infrastructure and found that we had a fragmented infrastructure due to mergers and acquisitions over a number of years, with different legacy telephony hardware in place in various offices and world regions. Our UC investments needed to increase effective communications and collaboration among a staff spread across many time zones and in a mix of office and work-at-home environments. We determined that we would need to eliminate 16 PBXs across the company.