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So many things in our daily world have been changed by technology, and mostly for the positive. Advancements in radio technologies paved the way for the mobile telephone; research in compression technologies helped usher VoIP to our desktops and ultimately laptops; and now we have combined the best of each of these on the supercomputers we each carry in our pocket - the smart phone.  "Why does this matter for the contact center?" you ask. 


Contact Center architectures are a hybrid of technologies; call routing engines, dialers, databases, phone systems, analytics and reporting tools - just to name a few.   In many cases, these tools are interconnected using various protocols that provide integration under the guise of CTI (Computer/Telephone Integration).  This integration has provided the glue that allows contact centers to provide for the rather transactional nature in which they operate.  Merging customer databases into outbound dialing campaigns; enabling "screen pops" for agents handling incoming customer calls; capturing sales trends and close ratios for agents while mapping this to customer detail.  All of this requiring rather complex CTI scripting and ultimately, customer routing along the way. 


No longer is the simple transaction the simple transaction.  In much the same way that telephony matured to provide for mobility and the mainframe matured to provide for mobile computing, customer's expectations have matured along with these trends of increased intelligence.  No longer is it acceptable just to manage the transaction.


This is requiring contact centers to evolve their architectures and processes for serving their customers.   The move towards a managed contact center began a number of years ago as they began to see the need for measuring agent performance, customer satisfaction, and automated support.  The implementation of measurement allows for the easy transition into an optimized contact center model where the performance and customer data can now be used to make real time decisions.


Many companies operate contact centers in this optimized manner today and they're able to balance their investments and customer satisfaction.  However, as the end-customer's expectations are again changing, contact centers too will have to evolve.  I'm calling the next phase of this architectural revolution enterprise integrated.


In the enterprise integrated contact center, technology deployment allows for front and back-office integration with business systems.  The entrance of speech analytics, automated agent selection, non-traditional agent usage models, and a deep integration with CRM systems are more of the advancements we'll see in those contact centers operating in this model.  Today, there are very few who can honestly place themselves in this model.


As technology evolves, we'll move into the customer integrated model.  Here, real-time customer treatment is possible - leveraging every breadcrumb left behind from every interaction to provide the best possible experience for end customers.  This will require significant integration of the legacy systems I talked about in the transaction-based model.  We're making progress in the direction to allow for this and are able to provide many of the tools today.  


Today at VoiceCon, we are announcing new technologies and solutions that enable this transformation to occur.

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Yesterday, while getting ready to fly back home from a meeting, I thought I would try a new auto-identification application the airline had installed some months back.  I'm normally a first adopter of anything that can make my life easier (Tivo, Roomba, etc.), but I had to wait a number of months to see this new offering mature.  So, I found myself with a few moments to register with the Web site and on the dial tool as well.  I put in my cell number, confirmed it and went off to call them to arrange my seating preference for the flight. Continue Reading...
Today, many contact centers are managing their resources and investments on a cost per contact basis. But while this is a core metric for managing those centers, I would argue that in the current economic climate, there may be more to the equation than just this.  For contact center managers, understanding the customer experience, and moreover managing it more effectively, is rapidly becoming equally important.  With the trend moving more towards a self-service model, managers are increasingly challenged to provide a positive experience, while keeping the overall cost to service their customers low.
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