For years building a call center was technically challenging as it typically involved integrating proprietary products from multiple vendors. Although more vendors now offer integrated solutions, even these can difficult to administer and use because of variable user interfaces and gaps in the integration. These challenges become harder as companies expand their contact centers to support multiple communication channels and agents of several kinds dispersed over multiple locations.
Zeacom set out to change this, building its Zeacom Communications Center (ZCC) from the ground up as an integrated solution with one user interface that supports many of the core contact center capabilities: CTI, presence, multichannel rules-driven single-queue routing, the agent desktop, multichannel communications management (such as transfer, hold, forward, collaborate or conference), IVR, voice messaging, recording, agent quality assurance, social media integration, integration with Microsoft Outlook and reporting. Zeacom targets centers with 50 to 200 seats (although its product can support more) and is sold through a network of Avaya, Cisco and NEC resellers and Microsoft Lync resellers. Watching a demonstration I thought that ZCC contains so much functionality that many companies wouldn’t be able to take advantage of it all, but those that can do so could build a fully functional, multichannel contact center in days (if not hours), which used to take software engineers months.
The user interface is a key to rapid implementation. It looks and feels like Microsoft Windows and is tightly integrated with Outlook. This means it should be familiar to most users, and tasks such as adding a meeting in Outlook are automatically reflected in an agent’s availability. It has some drag-and-drop capabilities, which for example make it easy to bring another agent, supervisor or knowledge worker into a conference call. This is supported by the presence capabilities that show who is available to assist with a particular customer interaction.
An extra capability allows individuals to create their own voice messages for different circumstances such as being in a meeting, on a break, on vacation or others, and then create rules that determine when each is played. Each message can be associated with an action; for example, if the agent is in a meeting, the system can give the caller the option to transfer to another number, leave a message or do something else. These all sit behind a conventional IVR capability, which can play rules-driven messages. Taken to the extreme, the combination of all these options could become complicated, but in practice it puts users in control and allows companies to create more personalized customer experiences.
Over the past 12 months I have seen products emerging with more sophisticated interaction routing. ZCC supports all four of the most advanced routing rule sets I am aware of: multichannel routing (in which all types of interactions are routed according to the same rules), skills-based routing (based on agents’ skills), customer-based routing (based on the customer profile) and outcome routing (to the available person with the best track record of resolving the interaction type, such as a product query or a complaint). These can be used in a mix-and-match mode, but other rules prevent all interactions from being queued to go to the same agent. This is a powerful set of capabilities that helps companies achieve efficiency of operations while also ensuring interactions are handled by the person most likely to resolve the customer’s issue and deliver a great customer experience. My research into the state of contact centers shows that few companies have yet taken advantage of this type of capability, but due to the pressure to provide customers with great experiences I expect adoption rates to increase.
Recently I wrote about moments of truth in the contact center and the need to manage the customer journey across all touch points, regardless of the interaction type, the line of business or the channel of communication. ZCC supports this effort, and for small and midsize organizations it does this across the enterprise, allowing companies to provide more consistency in how they manage interactions. Customers want consistency, and so I recommend companies evaluate how Zeacom can help them in their efforts.
Do you believe the “customer is king”? If so, please tell us why and how your company is adapting to meet this new challenge, and come and collaborate with me on social media.
Richard Snow – VP & Research Director