If unified communications is the answer, what is the question?
JOHANNESBURG – July 12, 2011 – Both consumers and enterprises are changing. Today’s customers have more choice, influence and control than ever before – whether it is in the channel that they choose to communicate with companies, their increasing use of intelligent mobile devices, or the influence of social media and blogs on company perception.
“The reality is that customer communications are shifting from interaction on the company’s terms to true collaboration on the consumer’s terms,” says Pommie Lutchman, CEO at contact centre solutions provider, Ocular Technologies.
“This new generation of customers, of all ages, is using social tools and demanding communications anytime, anywhere and across any channel, resulting in companies taking advantage of unified communications, mobility and communities and collaborating with partners and other vendors.”
He adds that these changes are also fundamentally changing the contact centre, and that enterprises are breaking down the silos between the contact centre and the rest of the enterprise. “Enterprises are creating plans to comprehensively interact with customers using unified communications and collaboration to facilitate the conversation,” he says.
Unified communications improves business productivity through communication that is focused on people, their availability and willingness to communicate, rather than which tool or device to use. It is a solution platform that allows streamlining of business process steps that cannot be automated.
“Unified communications in the contact centre is about keeping the customer in the equation and enterprises should thus be focusing on communication in order to enable its customer-facing processes such as sales, collections and service. Fortunately, enterprises need look no further than their contact centre,” he says.
Yet, if unified communications is the answer, what is the question? “Companies are continuously being challenged with doing ‘more with less’ in order to maximise every resource. The promise of unified communications, first, and most importantly, is therefore increased productivity. Second, it is about streamlining processes,” says Lutchman.
Art Rosenberg (http://unified-view.blogspot.com) offers a framework for identifying these productivity enhancements: micro-productivity – individual users can save time by accessing information and people more flexibly and faster and; macro-productivity – the ability to achieve greater business process efficiencies by all users in a given group.
“Lastly,” says Lutchman, “It is about enhancing the customer experience. That is, it is the differentiator between excellent companies and those that are merely ‘good’.”
“The Three ‘Ds of Customer Experience” by authors Allen, Reicheld and Hamilton outlines companies delivering superior customer interactions as such: they design the right offers and experiences for the right customers; they deliver these propositions by focusing the entire company on them with emphasis on cross-functional collaboration and they develop their capabilities to please customers again and again.
“Revisiting the original question ‘why unified communications’, there is an increasing body of evidence that the technologies of unified communications, applied with the goal of communications-enabling businesses processes, can have a direct impact on the value a company can deliver to its employees, to its customers and, ultimately, to its shareholders. Improving productivity and streamlining processes can make it easier for a company to deliver the ideal customer experience.
“The reason enterprises should start with the contact centre is because the contact centre has already developed disciplines that enterprises can apply to their unified communications strategy in order to ensure that the customer is part of the equation. The success of the unified communication strategy will ultimately be measured in terms of the customer experience,” concludes Lutchman.