Category Archives: Universal Queue
Based in Mumbai, India, Eureka Outsourcing (www.eurekaosl.com) is a provider of business process outsourcing (BPO) services focusing on end-to-end technical helpdesk support, customer care and telesales for a global clientele. Among Eureka’s customers are leading organisations in the BFSI, Manufacturing, Retail and other enterprises, who’ve been utilising services of Eureka for years together.
Eureka was exploring a platform transformation from their traditional IT assets to a virtualized contact-center opreations, for whch SmartConnect was asked to put a solution strategy. SmartConnect planned a staged revamp of their operations from a TDM-2-IP environment, with seamless client process migration, leaving no pain on the transition process. The key agenda for Eureka was to make the transition cost-effective with a platform which shall allow them to plan future strategies for growth.
SmartConnect chose Genesys (www.genesyslab.com) as the platform of choice for this virtualized CC operations, given the current multi-channel requirements, integration to heterogenous client environment across PBX/IT applications etc. SmartConnect joined hands with Patton (www.patton.com) to integrate their VoIP media gateway for Telcom operations.
Based in Mumbai, India, DeAtlantic Creative Solutions Pvt. Ltd (www.deatlantic.com), is a provider of business process outsourcing (BPO) services focusing on end-to-end technical helpdesk support, customer care and telesales for a global clientele. Among DeAtlantic’s customers are Google Adwords, Barclays and other leading companies around the world.
DeAtlantic was assisted in this project by SmartConnect Technologies (www.smartconnectt.com). SmartConnect is a boutique consulting and solutions delivery organization, specializing in providing its clients with end-to-end “Unified Interaction Management and Communications” solutions.
The emergence of Unified Interaction Management (UIM) has seen a massive replacement of old technology platforms, to the new-age ones broadly under the premise of multi-point integration capability of the product vendor.
During the entire phase of this evaluation, one does forget that most of the product vendors subtly announce a rip-and-replace model than propose inter-operability to the existing investments.
The effort to adopt UIM across the corporate boundaries has been marred by warring technology-solutions, which do not inter-operate & integrate. From a contact-center perspective, most of the technologies deployed earlier has always been a silo-approach. Avaya/Cisco for Inbound, Aspect for Outbound (during the TDM era) and with the IP-SIP led initiatives it’s replacement of the old with the new.
However the tech-team in the contact-centre environments, barring the large ones, have not really identified & understood the true-capabilities surrounding Unified Interactions/Communications, which can spread corporate boundaries seamlessly, which could then be the platform-of-choice for their solutions to enhance their capability / productivity / unified experience to their customer interaction episode.
With matured enterprises adopting captive customer-service models, it’s imperative that the solution is capable of having various knowledge-workers available on a unified platform, without any pain to the end-user (by having to dial-in multiple numbers).
Barring few products, which are totally software-based (without any proprietary hardware) for eg., Genesys Labs (part of Alcatel-Lucent), other products are not able to truly bring in the Unified experience to their clients, without significant changes to existing platforms. The product enables the clients to use their existing investments in (1) PBX and (2) hardphones, as long as both are IP-enabled and (3) using common industry-standard integration mechanism viz., web-services, SoA etc, integrates to back-office suite of solutions easily.
From a contact-centre standpoint, both these are significant investments as corporate migrate their environment from TDM-2-SIP and also explore new investments as part of their expansion plans.
Tech-Heads @ Contact-centre should keep in mind the growing expansion activities through M&A, partnering with third-party environments, private-cloud deployments within the organization (multi-centers), bringing in knowledge-workers as part of the Customer-contact environment, while choosing a platform for Unified Interaction Management.
To sum it up, the key evaluation elements to explore are:
1. Seamless integration with multi-vendor PBX
2. Integration with multi-vendor hard-phones
3. Usage of softphone with headsets against external hard-phones (unless driven by process)
4. Mashup integration of Interaction Suite (desktop) with various external applications seamlessly
5. Single-window interface for monitoring across various dialer environments
6. Single-window reporting across the operations, irrespective of dialer environments
7. Multi-channel interface (email/chat/co-browse) as unified platform
8. Mobility interface capability – to existing dialer
9. Social-media integration with telephony & UIM tools
Unless contact-centres take a new-approach to their evaluation methods & criteria, the Unified approach of technology roll-out will remain a myth, reinforcing a silo’d approach of UCC but not a true corporate Unified Interaction environment.
A universal queue permits the delivery of interactions from different channels to the same set of agents. It allows you to blend these interactions which could mean an agent would service an inbound call, outbound call, email, chat, fax, etc. There are both technical and operational considerations when considering the use of a universal queue.
A couple of points from a technology standpoint to give you an idea of the complexity. The technology solutions being used to service each channel has to understand the state of the agent and the rules around the interactions that each agent can handle. For example, you may want an agent to be able to handle inbound calls, emails, and chats.
The operations team should establish a rule that agents handled only one interaction at a time. Therefore, if the agent is servicing an email interaction, an inbound call nor a chat should be delivered to that agent. One can get more complex with these scenarios to include allowing the agent to service multiple interactions simultaneously, e.g., 3 chats/email. Establishing these rules and ensuring the agent state is understood across multiple technology providers can be challenging.
One also need to consider the reporting implications and ensure your reporting solution will provide accurate data for all the rule scenarios being considered. For example, if an agent is permitted to service an email and an inbound call, will handle time for an email be reported per your requirements if an inbound call is serviced in the middle of servicing the email.
A couple of points from an operational standpoint. First, are the agents skilled to handle interactions being delivered from multiple channels? Agents that can handle inbound service calls well cannot always do well with outbound sales calls. This same point is bigger with other channels. Some agents can communicate well through typing which would support email and chat but do not do well verbally which would provide limitations for supporting calls. Also, will your workforce management process/procedures support forecasting staff for multiple channels?
The use of universal queues can provide advantages in the operations and management of a contact center. However, you have to incorporate the use of a universal queue into your overall customer interaction and operational strategy.
In a market where the cost of FTE is ever-increasing, organization should look at enhancing their operations capability beyond the single-window delivery, through a multi-channel model, make sure their FTE are multi-skilled, which enhances operations/productivity and clearly differentiates them from the rest of the crowd in the marketplace.