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INFO TECHNOLOGY

Communications Tech: The call centre revolution

Everybody today looks to Voice over IP (VoIP) services as strategic drivers. Both service providers and people in enterprise expect significantly reduced bottom-line costs for voice services and cost advantages from combining voice and data networks. But the VoIP service is not just about price efficiency. It is about flexibility and improving traditional services like "call centres", combining them with the Internet.


Peter Belčák

Everybody today looks to Voice over IP (VoIP) services as strategic drivers. Both service providers and people in enterprise expect significantly reduced bottom-line costs for voice services and cost advantages from combining voice and data networks. But the VoIP service is not just about price efficiency. It is about flexibility and improving traditional services like "call centres", combining them with the Internet.

A web-enabled call centre is one of the most enhanced services that packet-switched voice transport over the Internet can offer. These new services can help to cut call centre costs, integrate multiple geographically remote customer service operations, and expand the potential labour pool of call centre agents.

Over the past 15 years, call centres have become a strong tool to support marketing, sales and of course for managing business-to-customer relations. Call centres have been driven by voice communication, occasionally interspersed with customer faxes. All that has now changed, with customers turning to the Web and e-mail.

What we see today is customers abandoning half-filled online shopping carts and leaving web sites in frustration because they cannot get the service they need, and at the same time enterprises flocking to the Internet to provide accessibility, convenience and more advanced services for customers. In many cases, a frustrated customer can be placated simply with a few 'live' words from a 'live' customer service agent.

But it is tough for most customers to dial up a call centre while they are surfing the web via their dial-up Internet connection. At first sight it seems to be an insoluble dilemma, creating demand for systems that seamlessly link the enterprise's web site to its call centre. The right implementation of web/call centre integration can be an unprecedented benefit for business. Today, customer expectations are higher and products are more complex.

New progressive technologies address these concerns. By incorporating Internet web-enabled call centres, agents can exchange e-mail messages with customers, be engaged in text-based real-time chat sessions, fill out forms together and even talk to customers still linked to the web. But there is more behind this, and this is where the call centres come into play. The web-enabled call centre has to keep all the information easily accessible to the agent, customer data must be tracked and an agent's efficiency must be maintained. Deploying a sub-optimal implementation can lead to customer frustration and loss of present and future business.

These same new systems have opened a new era in customer care and in the organisation of new relations with customers. As modern and legacy voice-and-data technologies continue to converge, new call centre applications are emerging that will take customer care and customer relations management to new heights. As customers become more demanding and hard to please, new technologies can provide enterprises with a good tool to maintain their loyalty in today's competitive environment. But it mustn't be forgotten that there always has to be a true agent behind the technology able to solve the customer's queries and needs.


Peter Belčák is Accounts Manager at Global One Communications s.r.o. Comments can sent to him at: peter.belcak@globalone.net

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