The Contact Center, CRM and Unified Communications

In my last blog we discussed the impact of social networking on unified communications and concluded that while UC and social networking are all forms of communications one is “push” (in social networking you post and someone reads it at their own pace and discretion) whereas most of UC (unified communications) is “pull.”

In UC it is the recipient, the “end user” who determines who can reach them at what end point through a single point of access.  Boy that sounds verbose.  To put it more simply, in today’s world most people have an office phone, a cell phone, maybe a home land line phone, at least one email (usually two or more:  business and personal), some still carry pagers, and then we have Twitter and the social media platforms.  The promise of UC is that the end user defines where s/he “is” (maybe the cell phone) and all forms of communication are routed to that one source — even if they are sent to another (the office phone, email, etc.).

Perhaps the greatest thing about UC in this overloaded world is that the end user can actually decide WHO accesses their primary end point (in our example the cell phone) and who is “tier II” and goes directly to voice mail to be retrieved when time is available, or even “tier III” (unknown people, for example) who go to an admin or even get funneled to another department — for example, the call center.

You knew I’d eventually wrap back to the contact (call) center — after all the title of this blog is “The Contact Center, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and Unified Communications.

Most people don’t “see” the connection between the contact center and Unified Communications (UC), but is actually pretty obvious.  UC is best suited to people with lots of contacts and who may be away from their physical office a lot (think of lawyers, physicians, business executives who attend meetings off-site, sales types, Realtors, etc.).   Do we really want the “unknown” callers to go to some over loaded voice mail box where it may never receive attention due to work levels?

How about shipping that call to a $9 an hour CSR (customer service representative) who can identify the purpose and see if there is a potential sale there?  If not a sale, how about resolving a problem or at least determing the correct person to handle the purpose of the original call?  The result is a happier initial caller, better customer service, maybe a new sale AND OCR (one call resolution).

The contact center vendors are beginning to understand this obvious advantage.  Genesys (an Alcatael / Lucent company) — one of the two largest contact center vendors (the other being Avaya) — has announced UC Connect.  UC Connect promises integration and interoperability between the Genesys Customer Interaction Management (CIM) software platform and UC solutions from many of the major providers in the industry.  From what I can tell the only integration available currently is to IBM SameTime.

I haven’t seen it so can’t tell you how simple or complex (integration) this solution is — but Genesys claims it will provide connectivity to the Alcatel-Lucent’s MyInstant Communicator, IBM Sametime, Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, and Siemens Openscape.   When?  How?  That remains to be seen.

Formerly with Siemens I’m very familiar with Openscape and love it.   If you are looking into UC be sure you take a look at Openscape — realizing that Siemens market share is far below Cisco and Avaya but knowing that feature / functionality is tops.  IBM integrated some of the Siemens’ Openscape code into Sametime — and initially Microsoft partnered with Siemens in their previous UC generation.  Great product, but again the caveat is Siemens market penetration, service coverage — so be sure you feel comfortable with your support and service  if you consider Openscape.

Avaya?  Cisco?  Genesys has taken the bull by the horn.  Granted you have to be a user of their contact center software, but they are one of the two market leaders in that field. . .

Genesys has raised the bar.  Cisco offers Cisco Unified Communications contact center system, proclaimed as “the Cisco IP solution for distributed contact center applications,” but it is a total Cisco (one vendor) solution not the open true UC offer now available from Genesys.   Stay tuned.

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About Sandra Eisenberg

Dynamic pragmatic marketing and sales executive whose biggest asset is converting technology to real corporate value -- for a variety of industries including health care providers (Adventist Health System Sunbelt), Teradata (Data Warehousing), RWD Technologies (quality improvement and professional services), Siemens and AT&T (telecom). Sandra brings twenty years of experience in sales, marketing and IT management. Her career spans entrepreneurial firms (E5 Marketing) and senior positions in sales, sales management (direct and indirect), marketing, channel development and product management at Bell Labs and NCR Teradata. A few career highlights: • Total product lifecycle management (PLM) using ISO 9001 and other quality methodologies. Sunset aging product lines and developed a migration path to a new, open standards platforms at Avaya, NCR and Bell Labs. • 1st woman to win the AT&T and NCR Teradata national sales awards -- top sales manager and sales rep at AT&T, NCR Teradata and Avaya • Delivered profitable marketing campaigns in the area of CRM, Business intelligence, contact centers and other high tech areas • Run call centers, sold call centers and been in product management of call centers (Avaya, AT&T and NCR) • Director of CRM Strategic Planning and Alliances at Avaya and NCR Teradata • Senior Manager of Product Management Bell Labs (business intelligence, data warehousing and CRM) Most recently Sandra managed the Central Florida territory for Siemens' telephony division. Siemens is selling this division soon and their loss can be your gain.

Posted on June 12, 2009, in contact center, CRM, customer relationship management, Marketing, revenue, sales, UC, unified communications, viral marketing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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