Welcome to the Customer Engagement / Contact Centre / UC solutions pavilion. Below you will find leading vendors and/or their implementation partners in Australia. Click on any vendors of interest to see a showcase of their relevant local case studies, thought leadership articles, recent news stories, and product and industry insights. Use the advanced search facility in the menu bar to search for relevant content across the industries and solution types that you are researching. Also check the iStart event diary for local industry events. All vendors showcased have local representation and actively support clients in Australia, and so will be glad to assist with your enquiries.
CUST. ENGAGEMENT/CONTACT CENTRE/UC OVERVIEW
Customer service has always been an important focus for all businesses. But with the move to digital and mobile, customer expectations have soared and customer experience is now a critical measure of successful engagement.
Delivering a seamless, integrated experience regardless of the means a customer may choose to use is at the heart of successful customer engagement.
Point solutions for CRM, call centre or website forms have evolved to provide integration across all channels including phone, internet, e-mail, text, social and bricks & mortar.
Unified Communications or UC has provided the platform upon which these solutions have been built. UC describes the integration of multiple communication streams (voice, video & data) over an IP network onto one platform – e.g. a desktop, and also extends to integration with core business systems such as ERP or CRM solutions.
At the core of UC is Unified Messaging, whereby messages are streamed into a single inbox or service queue – be they sourced originally from fixed voice, mobile voice, e-mail, web, social, video or chat messaging.
UC extends unified messaging further by facilitating collaboration across business processes, so rather than simply a single inbox, participants in a process can collaborate on a problem and reach a decision faster than by traditional means. UC allows users to communicate with each other using the technology they have – so Video Conference participants can talk to one another via VC, but can also landline or mobile to include audio from those not connected to the VC.
“Presence” is a key concept in UC. Presence aware systems allow those within your network (business or personal) to be aware of your availability to be contacted. Are you at your desk, in a meeting, on the phone, on your mobile – or simply in a “do not disturb” moment? Your presence status means that you control your availability to be contacted, and people can see your availability. Phone tag is significantly reduced, particularly inside corporate network environments, and regardless of where you decide to leave a message, you know it will end up in the same queue – so there is no need to double up a voice message with an e-mail.
As an example of UC in action, consider the following scenario. A key customer has contacted the call centre and cancelled a large order that is in production. The call centre enters the issue into the CRM system with an alert to sales, production, inventory and shipping who all need to come up with a response plan. The presence aware messaging system will send an IM to everyone notifying them of the problem, and at the same time creates an online meeting space. As individuals come available they are able to join the space, and as they talk or chat online they can bring in whiteboard or videoconferencing feeds, ERP or CRM screens – or invite substitutes for those who are busy. The forum allows a collaborative decision to be reached as quickly as possible.
Unified Communication is in itself a subset of Unified Collaboration which is the “end game” in process collaboration across remotely located workers.
Conferencing is simply the bridging of communications between multiple parties over distance. Organisations are increasingly operating with staff or key partners in different locations, working from home, or travelling – so conferencing tools are now an integral part of allowing teams to collaborate across distance.
From its origins in teleconferencing that allowed more than two people to participate in a phone call, conferencing now extends across audio, video conferencing, web conferencing and webinars in the live (or “synchronous”) context, and can be extended to the asynschronous message boards, chat rooms, on-line forums and blogs. “Unified Conferencing” means that conferencing can operate seamlessly regardless of the end users technology – utilising Unified Communication.
With advances in network bandwidth and video data compression, IP-based video conferencing solutions have become a very real alternative to reduce the downtime from travelling to meet in person. A close look at the total cost involved with travelling, particularly for senior executives flying across international borders, means that high quality standards-based video conferencing is a very real option – particularly if the carbon credits associated with long haul air travel are accounted for.
VoIP / IP Telephony
IP Telephony allows voice traffic to be transported across an IP-based data network (hence “VoIP”), for example over your local area network (LAN) or the internet. The voice signal is sampled, compressed and encapsulated into data packets to allow it to be routed across the network.
When talking about IP Telephony, there are two parts to the story: IP Trunking and IP Extensions.
IP Trunking is where multi-site systems transport telephone calls over their wide area network. The phones at each end don’t necessarily have to be IP phones. IP Trunking is used to tie the two systems together. Voice effectively travels for free over the existing data network.
IP Extensions is where the desk phones or handsets are IP devices directly connected to the LAN instead of a phone socket (just like your computer). They can be multimedia softphones such as Net meeting, or alternatively IP telephones (IP Hardphone) which replicates a traditional telephone – or they can simply be as simple as your computer equipped with earphones and a mic.
VoIP should be considered by any organisation evaluating its telephony and communications infrastructure as it is an enabler to the many productivity enhancing unification and collaboration tools. Online forums, integrated email & voice messaging, and web conferencing are all examples of modes of communication which are available with the IP standard. Another consideration is that VoIP means that voice calls can be transported across data networks, rather than over telco networks – i.e. they can be carried for “free” – so toll charges are eliminated.
Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) is another network protocol that has provided for interoperability between voice, video and data devices, and with SIMPLE (SIP for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions) provides for presence aware messaging and conferencing over an IP network.
NEWS | ANALYSIS | RESEARCH