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Integrate contact center and unified communications platforms

The lines are blurring between contact center and unified communications platforms, as team messaging capabilities help agents collaborate and resolve customer issues.

Many organizations have had clear lines of demarcation between unified communications platforms designed for internal...

collaboration and contact-center platforms designed for external customer interaction. But these lines are fading, as organizations look to improve customer engagement, embrace digital transformation and take advantage of integrated offerings.

Integrating contact center and unified communications platforms can enable faster responses to customer queries. Contact-center agents, for example, can add specialists to calls with a simple click, or instant message managers to discuss customer concerns.

For instance, a customer may call a credit card company to report a suspected fraudulent charge. The contact-center agent can create a chat room and invite members from other teams to help resolve the matter.

In the chat room, contact-center employees can validate the fraud and ensure they are following defined processes for resolution. If the fraud is part of a larger trend, other individuals can join the chat to share their knowledge. Once the problem is resolved, the room is archived.

This capability is already available through vendors such as Altocloud in conjunction with Cisco Spark.

Innovating customer-facing initiatives

Nemertes Research defined digital transformation as the innovative application of technology to improve processes or product experience to drive value. We find that most digital transformation efforts are customer-facing to deliver new capabilities and improve customer engagement. 

In that case, the intersection of contact center and unified communications platforms could leverage APIs or communications platform as a service (CPaaS) to enable customer notifications based on business events.

For instance, a contact center could create a capability that notifies an account manager when a customer calls with an issue. This notification could be a message pushed into a team chat room, instant messaging client or text to a mobile device. Message routing would be handled via the UC platform or CPaaS.

This messaging capability would allow the account manager to become aware of potential issues that could affect customer satisfaction and possibly join the call to assist in a resolution.

Unify internal and external collaboration

Many vendors, particularly those in the UC-as-a-service (UCaaS) space, are offering fully integrated contact center and unified communications platforms -- examples include 8x8, Interactive Intelligence and RingCentral.

These services enable simplified management, unified call routing, and contact-center reporting and analytics for noncustomer support groups. An organization can use contact-center analytics to track the length of time salespeople spend on calls, and then correlate that data with sales close rates.

IT managers responsible for contact center and unified communications platforms are likely already engaged with one another around issues of call routing.

However, if you haven't already, you should consider how further integration of UC and contact-center platforms -- coupled with new capabilities, such as team chat, CPaaS and UCaaS -- can unify internal and external collaboration to deliver tangible business value.

Next Steps

Compare UC providers and their contact-center features.

Team messaging is popular, but adoption rates are unclear.

Social collaboration tools enhance customer engagement.

This was last published in November 2016

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