Simplifying Staff Workflow via a Single Virtual Resource Pool

Next Generation Communications Blog

Simplifying Staff Workflow via a Single Virtual Resource Pool

By Mae Kowalke

Effective staff workflow management is perhaps the most consuming challenge, and the biggest opportunity, within customer-centric organizations. Getting the balance right between efficiency and customer service levels sometimes means walking a very fine line.

Luckily, new technologies are making the opportunities inherent in workflow management easier to capitalize on. Presence solutions in contact centers are a great example. To understand the power of presence (the ability to quickly identify which resources are available and where they’re located), a brief look at customer service trends is necessary.

To meet the expectations of modern customers, many contact centers are finding it necessary to think outside the box—literally. It’s fairly common today for such organizations to expand the boundaries of customer service operations beyond call center walls.

“By transforming knowledge workers across the enterprise into on-demand experts, contact centers are able to more effectively meet the challenges of increasing productivity, improving the customer experi­ence, and contributing to the enterprise’s bottom line,” Alcatel-Lucent wrote in a recently-published whitepaper about the approach its subsidiary Genesys is taking to UC and presence.

Unified communications solutions, with presence capabilities being a major feature, are helping drive this transformation. In the process, new technology is literally changing business models.

“Knowledge workers can often be most effectively incorporated into the contact center on a part-time basis, without formally becoming a customer service agent,” Alcatel-Lucent’s Genesys division noted in its whitepaper. “Presence of enterprise knowledge workers supplied by UC platforms provides a crucial asset needed to link workers from diverse back office departments into the front office point of service operations by facilitating effective routing of real-time communication and collaboration across sites and functions.”

Of course, in its simplest form, presence has been part of contact center routing procedures for a long time; previously it was referred to as agent-state, referring literally to whether or not an agent was logged onto the system or not. UC-based presence takes this idea to a whole new level.

“In the contact center setting, enterprise UC user presence capabili­ties can give agents real-time access to subject matter experts, back/branch office workers, and field sales in much the same way that agent-state is used within the contact center,” Genesys said.

Presence through UC also touches on another cornerstone of contact centers: first call resolution. As early as 2008, a Datamonitor study discussed the potential of UC to achieve this important goal.

“The next step for contact centers is to integrate presence applications into their business processes so that they can increase their chances of ‘first call resolution’ by ensuring that contact center agents have access to their colleagues who have the requisite knowledge needed to address any customer queries,” Datamonitor wrote in the 2008 study.

There are, of course, other benefits to unified communications-based presence. These include improved agent productivity and satisfaction, enhanced customer satisfaction, and optimized in-store/branch worker productivity. Plus, it helps promote best practices for customer service through capabilities like intelligent routing and desktop-integration for contact center-to-enterprise transfers.

“Presence management has the potential to enable significant improvements in customer service delivery by allowing experts across the enterprise to intervene in the service process in real time,” Genesys said in its white paper. “By providing enhanced access to information and expertise at the precise moment customers require service, presence capabilities have a direct impact on improving the customer experi­ence."

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