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UCStrategies.com defines unified communications as “Communications integrated to optimize business processes.” The definition of unified communications narrows significantly when you can read and hear about real-world examples that other companies are implementing right now—and apply them to your situation.
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In talking about the UC-enabled Contact Center, I include all forms of customer contact and interactions that can benefit from UC-enablement (integrations, interoperability), but don’t point out the specific challenges that will show up for organizational implementation strategies. So, one way to view the role of the UC Contact Center is to look at what is driving enterprise mobility plans from a consumer/customer perspective view of “BYOD,” not just in supporting employee mobility.
“Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) is the latest hot term used to describe the end user transition from desktop PCs to mobile, multimodal smartphones and tablets. Initially, BYOD was primarily focused on supporting mobile users within an organization who need access to people and business applications whenever they were not at their desks. IT management has been mainly concerned about the security of business information accessed by mobile devices and is trying to come up with policies for supporting personal mobile devices that employees used for business applications. That challenge is still being dealt with in various ways, including “dual persona” software clients that separate business-related activities on the mobile devices from personal usage, and Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools for controlling authorized mobile device usage.
BYOD mobility policies have been primarily focused on end users within an organization as a means for increasing business process performance efficiency, individual end user productivity, and minimizing communication costs. However, BYOD mobility is just starting to be recognized as a key factor in communicating with consumers/customers who are rapidly adopting smartphones and tablets as their primary means of multimodal communications. Clearly, organizational “BYOD policies” can’t be applied to customers who do whatever they want to, but traditional contact center operations will now have to accommodate mobile customers and the devices of their choice.
Traditional call center management has always recognized that the caller experience is very key to customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. However, such concerns were primarily focused on callers waiting in queues, as well as call handling skills of live agents. With direct customer access to web site information and multimodal smartphones, the customer “experience” has been extended to include all elements involved in an interacting with an organization. Until now, this meant dealing with customers via telephone calls, messaging, and online self-service applications, each area usually being supported in separate technology silos. With UC-enabled smartphones and tablets, mobile users will be dynamically exploiting all modes of business interaction with a single mobile device that will let them switch modalities “on demand” during a single contact. With video conferencing and social networking options, business communication contacts with customers will certainly become more complex.
This means that every form of contact between a customer and an organization must be “unified” in various ways, so that each interface experience will be individually efficient and effective for the customer’s needs. The “total” customer contact experience will reflect the individual user interfaces for communications and self-service applications that will be exploited by a customer depending on their needs and communication environments. In addition to the basic modality of contact involved, when live assistance is needed, the “experience” will obviously reflect the skills of the customer-facing staff.
Since most organizations still work with telephony-based legacy contact center technologies, the challenge for including support for mobile customer needs is great and needs to be strategically planned. This is precisely where UC-enablement and “cloud-based” integrations will change call centers into what I have termed “UC Contact Centers” to support the new needs of mobile customers with multimodal experiences.
Since consumers will be adopting a wide variety of smartphones and tablets, customers will require that application interfaces accommodate differences in form factors and operating systems. This means that different user interface designs, as well as different integration (API) needs will be required for the same business or communication application offered to end users. The fact that some wireless carriers won’t support “open” accessibility to devices and applications they don’t control, is not going to help matters in dealing with “BYOD” mobile consumers.
A logical place for organizations to start their Mobile UC planning is to redesign and integrate current online self-service applications to be able to access and accommodate the smaller screens that mobile consumers will be using instead of traditional PC desktops. This would include “mobile apps” available through “app stores,” and could include outbound notifications from business process applications as well. By also including integrations with communication applications, i.e., “click-to-contact” live assistance, the basic framework for mobile customers to access information and only then, when necessary, make real-time contact with a live person. Such “contextual contacts” will provide greater efficiencies in handling a customer’s needs, but will not change anything for customers who simply want to immediately “talk” to someone who is available and qualified. Such an approach will facilitate the graceful migration of contact center operations to the future of the UC Contact center.
Business organizations and their CIOs are particularly perplexed about how to migrate cost-effectively to a “UC-enabled” communications environment, when their legacy telephony investments are still functional. Rather than replace working technology, adding in missing technology “holes” will be a practical implementation strategy. Customer mobility, complicated by “Customer BYOD,” is one the biggest “holes” for maximizing customer experiences and revenue generation.
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Communications Integrated to Optimize Business Processes.
UC integrates real-time and non-real time communications with business processes and requirements.
Uses presence capabilities for coordination, and presents a consistent unified user interface and experience across multiple devices and media types.
Learn more at What is Unified Communications all about?