CRM the Contact Center and Unified Communications Get Real
A few blogs ago I wrote about the natural link between the contact center and unified communications.
Unified Communications (UC) can empower the contact center by directing nontraditional call center calls to the center. Most people think of UC as a way of combining multiple contact points for one person to a single point of contact (thus John Smith’s office phone, cell phone, email, IM, etc. can all be directed to “ring” on his cell phone). In the lives of busy executives (or even busy sales people) there are people whose calls don’t merit being directly to you “live.”
Traditionally UC would route such a call to a secondary point such as voice mail or email. If you put a contact center into the mix the call can be routed to a live person who can try to resolve the need (whether a sale or customer service) thus improving customer service at a lower price point (executives and sales types tending to be expensive).
SearchCRM has an article about Eastman Chemical doing exactly what I suggested. Eastman Chemical uses the SAP CRM contact center solution and claims to be deploying unified communications in the contact center. The article doesn’t give details as to HOW they are using UC or even whose UC they might be using. The SAP Duet product has some presence capability “built in” partnering with Microsoft OCS, so this could be what is in use, but the article doesn’t say. Possibly it is SAP NetWeaver. Unfortunately the article is short on details and a search of SAP didn’t turn up anything either.
Maybe someone from SAP can enlighten us?
Datamonitor’s “Market Share Insight: The Contact Center Universe,” writes that Aspect (a UC vendor) has 29% of the outbound contact center marketshare. If you go to Aspect’s home page you’ll see them heralding UC. Aspect leverages Microsoft’s UC including Microsoft® Office Communications Server 2007 (Microsoft’s UC platform), Microsoft® Active Directory™ for single sign-on and authentication and Microsoft® Exchange Server 2007 for unified messaging (UM).
What is the difference between UC and UM? UC = unified communications, the ability to unify live and passive forms of communications (office phone, cell phone, email, voice mail, etc.) to direct important people to the live person wherever he or she may be. For example, an executive needs to speak to a key employee, but that employ is away from his (her) desk. In earlier times the executive would either leave a voice mail or try to “zero out” to an admin who could search various cell phones, home phones, etc. trying to find the employee.
Unified communications allows its users to direct their various points of contact (office phone, email, etc.) to where they currently are (home, cell phone, client office. . .). The end user can selectively allow only key people to access them “live” re-directing others to a secondary resource such as voice mail or a contact center.
Unified messaging (UM) is an older technology that may be a subset of UC. UM brings together different electronic messaging technologies such as email, SMS, voice mail, video messaging and even faxes. Using UM a “road warrior” can dial into voice mail and have email read to them electronically. Likewise, voice mail can be left as an MP3 file on email or in some cases converted to text. It is not as “live” and immediate as UC and is more advantagious to the receiver of the message than the sender.
UC brings sender and receiver together without “phone tag” or enless messages — giving it the power of much faster response to sales opportunities and problem resolution.
At any rate, it is interesting that the value of combining the contact center with UC is getting more and more attention. Thought you might want to know.