IP: taking the center out of call center.

Author:Schelmetic, Tracey
Position:Internet protocol - Editorial

When many people in the contact center market hear the term "IP telephony," the first thing they frequently do is nod and respond, "Ah, yes ... we thought about that. Good cost savings."

What many do not realize is that IP telephony is about so much more than saving money. Of course, lower cost is a big element of why people seek IP telephony capabilities for their call centers. But beyond saving money, the benefits provided by the mobility, accessibility, quality, improved productivity, reliability and ease of administration are what ultimately attract savvy companies.

In this ongoing series, we'd like to explore the top ten benefits of IP telephony in the contact center, beginning with the ability to take apart the traditional call center and distribute it throughout the neighborhood, the state, the country or the planet.

The Call Uncentered

As the reach of global business began to extend (we're used to having our kids' toys made in China, our clothes made in Bangladesh and our strawberries grown in Ecuador, but are we yet used to having the guy we call for computer support in India and the person who answers our credit card issues in Romania?), it became clear that traditional voice just wouldn't cut it. Poor voice quality, disconnectedness with customer data and the prohibitive costs of traditional long-distance telephony were all barriers to spreading a contact center's business to other shores to take advantage of overhead cost savings and tax incentives.

For companies choosing to locate offshore, transparency to the end customer is a vital issue. Cost savings in labor are great, but if it takes five full minutes for the customers' call to get routed to the correct place, it's likely he or she will be long gone by then. For an overseas venture to work, it must seem to the customer as if the agent is next door.

The IP contact center model allows companies to overcome the problems of distance, disaster recovery, poor voice quality and a lack of reliability of a country's traditional telecom infrastructure.

Agents In Pajamas

Traditionally, many, if not most, companies have viewed the call center not as a boon to business, but as a drain on resources: a money pit that was necessary, but evil. Regardless of what call center agents are paid, the costs of finding them, enticing them, hiring them, training them, supporting them and keeping them exceed their salaries, sometimes many times over. It's not unheard of for some call centers to...

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