Solidus eCare: Aastra’s Solution for Today’s Customer Contact Environment
Contact center capabilities are an important differentiator for enterprises making a decision about telephony equipment purchases. Three trends make this even more important today: customers continue to demand more responsive and higher quality services; customer contacts with a company use a growing variety of devices and methods; and, enterprises find that quality customer interactions are an increasingly important competitive advantage. Systems must respond to these trends within the context of two key technology changes: the migration to VoIP and SIP-based solutions; and, the introduction of unified communications functionality.
I spoke with Jason Andersson, the principle architect behind Aastra’s Solidus eCare solution. This modular, multimedia contact center suite is Aastra’s answer to meeting the requirements of these customer and technology trends.
Solidus eCare offers a well-designed range of capabilities to meet a broad spectrum of enterprise requirements. In particular, Aastra’s design enables a “layering” approach to implementation – enabling enterprises to add capabilities and scale over time while building on existing infrastructure. Some of these capabilities include:
- Enabling seamless integration and scalability in a variety of configurations.
- Incorporating many media options
- Providing powerful tools for agents
Many Configurations. Solidus eCare leverages the capabilities and flexibility of IP and SIP to enable a wide variety of configurations and implementations. Working with the Aastra MX-ONE PBX, Solidus can augment an existing contact center environment or be a standalone solution for a company putting in a new contact center. The vision Solidus eCare supports is a centralized, high-availability architecture but with agents deployed throughout an enterprise’s network or even working remotely. And this vision can be achieved incrementally, by starting with one location and seamlessly expanding to an integrated environment encompassing more of the enterprise’s centers. Moreover, eCare is architected to allow multi-tenancy. This means that one system, managed centrally, can be configured to appear like different centers, with completely different configurations, rules, priorities, and capabilities.
Solidus eCare uses SIP trunks and extensions to work within an existing infrastructure of different PBXs. Remote agents can receive calls through an IP connection, as a remote extension, or even using a mobile device. This flexibility means that an enterprise can choose to migrate to a SIP and IP-based environment over time, consistent with other programs and budgets.
Configuration options start with Solidus eCare Lite, suitable for a small center up to 50 agents. That solution seamlessly expands to a system that integrates with multiple different SIP-enabled PBXs across a world-wide network up to 10,000 agents and 400,000 calls per hour.
Media Options. Today, customers want to reach a company using email, through text messages, or over an internet chat, as well as using a range of self service tools on a website or through IVR. Many contact center infrastructures started out by addressing only the requirements of inbound telephone calls, and have had to stretch the systems’ capabilities to incorporate other forms of interaction. In contrast, Solidus eCare was designed from its inception to support an integrated, multimedia contact center environment, and integrates multiple media natively within its design. Customers can make requests and get answers in whatever media they choose – phone call, email, chat, SMS, or even fax. In fact, agents can respond to customer requests to provide responses in a different media from the incoming contact.
Agent Tools. The most important component in a company’s interaction with customers is the abilities of the agent. Solidus eCare provides a sophisticated set of tools to empower contact center agents and others in the company to support customers in the best way possible. The Desktop Manager is the Solidus eCare agent application. It enables customization of the agent’s workspace, and supports interactive chat within the contact center. Desktop Manager also provides a broad spectrum of information and control of customer contacts whether through a phone call, email, voicemail, fax, SMS or though text chat from a website.
One of the key factors in building customer loyalty is to resolve requests during the first contact. Yet for some requests, the agent may need assistance from an expert knowledgeable about the customer’s equipment or specific circumstances. As self-service capabilities grow more sophisticated and take a greater number of calls, the contacts that remain more frequently require specialized expertise to address them effectively. In some cases, that may be an expert in the center; often the agent needs to reach beyond the center to get help.
Aastra’s Desktop Manager works in conjunction with Aastra’s InTouch unified communications client to provide a range of capabilities to support first call resolution. These include updated presence information about the availability of experts, instant messaging, conferencing, corporate directory searches of skills information, and softphone features to place calls - all to get access to people who can answer a customer’s questions now.
In summary, Solidus eCare is a well-designed solution to meet enterprises’ needs for a modular, scalable contact center. Although not yet as well known in North America as some of its competitors, Aastra is securing a growing number of Solidus deployments, in part because of the ability to work in a variety of configurations and to build on existing infrastructures. In addition, Solidus eCare Lite provides a solution for smaller or standalone environments. The ability to accommodate a wide variety of customer media choices, the use of unified communications capabilities to access experts, and the use of IP and SIP-based technology all make this a responsive answer to key trends we see in a modern contact center environment.
While other solutions may match many of Solidus eCare’s features, the combination of forward-looking capabilities and functionality make it a “solid” candidate to meet today’s customer contact requirements.
This paper is sponsored by Aastra.