CEBP Series Part 4: Improve Contact Success

10 Apr 2012

This is part four in a review of the seven major applications for Communications Enabled Business Processes (CEBP) as introduced in "UCStrategies VAR-SI Series: Building Your UC Applications Practice." Part four will look at the CEBP applications that will "Improve Contact Success."

Unified Communications contact success is not about contact centers, which are organized to provide efficient service to inbound to a generic service number using queuing methods for optimized results. Rather, the CEBP application to Improve Contact Success aims to optimize results when two known parties seek to reach each other as part of other business processes.

Interactions outside the enterprise boundaries engage customers, suppliers, business partners, constituents, and many others. These relationships involve many communications events since the customers and partners seek to make contact with the most appropriate enterprise personnel. Conversely, the enterprise seeks to have effective contact with the customers and suppliers. While some customer and supplier interactions flow through a contact center where contact success is measured and managed to specific service levels, many of the most important contacts to and from the enterprise are far less formal and are not measured or managed.

Legacy communication tools are very inefficient and ineffective for these contacts. By some studies, 70% of phone calls end in voice mail (or, as they say in the UK, a "slam down" disconnect), leading to a callback at some later point. More often, the contacting party wastes their time in attempts to use other numbers (call a cell phone, call another person) or media (send e-mail, send text message, etc.). Due to this low success rate on phone calls, most customers and partners have shifted to e-mail, but that method has implicit delays and inefficiencies. Another approach is to use the "follow me" feature to ring multiple devices (desk, cell, home office) in an attempt to reach the intended person. But none of those options is optimal. Clearly, these approaches impede effective communications.

Basic Unified Communications can be helpful for improving contact success. If an enterprise can connect their presence and instant messaging system to the customers' and suppliers' presence and IM systems (called "federation"), it may be possible for the contacting party to see who is available and to determine the best way to communicate before attempting a connection.

Further, with CEBP, customers and suppliers can engage software to help in one of several ways. One approach is to offer callers alternatives if the called employee is not available. Software can check presence to determine whether others on the employee's team are available, and offer that choice. Another, increasingly popular solution is the "communications-enabled portal" through which an authenticated partner or customer can either indicate the type of contact they need (sales, service, accounting, etc.) or can see the presence availability of the staff, or their delegates, with whom they typically interact. This enables an immediate and informed communication, in the medium of the contactor's preference, whether instant messaging chat, voice or video calling, and/or information sharing. CEBP is also being used to create contact success solutions that are displacing higher cost call center and contact center solutions, especially when the full range of traditional call/contact center features is not required.

Benefits

Benefits from Contact Success CEBP applications include:

  • Improved customer relationships and loyalty, usually increasing revenues and margins;

  • More efficient interfaces with partners and suppliers, usually lowering costs and minimizing errors, rework and delays;

  • Lower labor costs (i.e. lower expense to revenue ratios) for account management (sales and service) and supplier management (logistics).

Case Studies

Since effective contact with customers and supply chain partners is so valuable, there are many case studies showing CEBP applications for Improved Contact Success.

  • J&J Acoustics is a California-based contractor that specializes in drywall installation and metal-stud framing. Using the NEC Univerge®360 platform, J&J integrated communications into their two most important business applications - their job-estimating software and their customer relationship management software. With this CEBP integration, the J&J estimators can more quickly contact their suppliers and subcontractors to collect and communicate material and labor costs necessary to prepare a customer quote. As a result, J&J has greatly reduced the time it takes to present the completed estimate, thus both lowering costs and accelerating the pace of business.

  • SEMARNAT, or the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources is the federal government of Mexico agency responsible for promoting the protection, restoration, and conservation of ecosystems and natural resources. SEMARNAT has federated their Microsoft Lync system with other federal agencies so their employees can view presence information, start chat sessions, or hold online meetings with colleagues at those related agencies. This deployment has improved SEMARNAT's ability to meet their agency goals, with the side benefit of reduced travel and green-house gas emissions - clearly important in context of their organizational mission.

The theme here is that many business and public sector processes depend on timely interpersonal contact. Unified Communications, especially when closely integrated through CEBP, enables major, measurable improvements in those processes. Usually, the opportunity to Improve Contact Success can be readily found by examining communication activities with clients and supply-chain partners; once found, the application of CEBP will often eliminate delays and improve results.

Next week: Automate Communication Processes.

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Also on UCStrategies.com in this series:

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