Dave Paulding looks at some of the hidden considerations of consolidating and centralising communications.
The consolidation of contact centre architectures offers businesses a wide-range of benefits, with the most apparent being reduced administration, maintenance and upgrade costs in large corporate infrastructures. However, there are other equally important advantages that are often overlooked, for example improving business processes by making them more flexible.
First, we need to clarify what we mean by consolidation in the context of contact centres. While approaches differ from solution to solution, there are some common features which the majority share. The main one is that all elements to be consolidated must support VoIP to provide greater flexibility in the network. This allows a smoother transition to the new platform, assists in the consolidation of physical locations, and facilitates handling the different media that contact centres must now process.
Additionally, the platform should reduce the physical footprint of the contact centre systems. The PBX, automatic call distribution (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR), quality monitoring and workforce management components need to be unified, not just integrated. While the functions they perform might not all reside on a single server, each individual piece should no longer have its own physical hardware that needs to be managed, maintained, and upgraded.
Finally, the desktop applications for both the supervisor/management users as well as the agents should include a reduced number of interfaces.
Consolidation and centralisation are excellent drivers for contact centre cost savings. These stem from simplifying and streamlining operations, maintenance, and administration, as well as potentially reducing the number of licences. For example, advances in contact centre technology now make it possible to consolidate the functions of multiple contact centre locations into one central hub. This not only offers the potential to generate the savings outlined above, but also reduces expenditure on property rents and associated costs.
The ability to improve business processes is another significant motivator for call centre consolidation.
Consolidated infrastructures frequently allow companies to better organise their centres to substantially improve services for their customers. This translates to higher first call resolution, better matching of staff resources with customer requirements and consequently improvements in sales, service, and customer satisfaction and loyalty. Although these benefits can be more difficult to measure definitively, their impact on overall profitability has, in many cases, greatly exceeded the costs savings in infrastructure.
A consolidated solution allows a business to increase capacity at short notice to handle unexpected events more smoothly. In a consolidated system all ports are the same, whether they are used for PBX, IVR, ACD etc. this means components can be simply added or removed on demand without the need for wholesale switch outs of key components and pieces of hardware. This also means that upgrades can be more easily planned for and implemented, enabling an organisation to future proof its contact centre offering.
With a single communications platform serving all sites, organisations can be more flexible with their staffing issues. On a consolidated system, agents are pooled regardless of where they are based, enabling them to answer or assist with any call an organisation may take.
The adoption of a consolidated solution in the contact centre is not limited by size, industry or customer type. Any organisation can achieve measurable operational improvements and better service performance.
Through consolidation, a contact centre becomes more flexible and adaptable to change, and at the same time, provides information to give management a more complete picture of customer interaction performance and of the customer service experience.
Planning and deploying a centralised, consolidated contact centre architecture clearly can provide important cost savings and business improvement opportunities.
Dave Paulding is regional sales director of the UK, Middle East & Africa for Interactive Intelligence.