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VoIP adoption changing how contact centers do business

VoIP vendor Interactive Intelligence polled 105 companies and found that VoIP is making a huge impact on call/contact centers.

VoIP vendor Interactive Intelligence recently put more than 100 companies to the test, asking call/contact center managers to identify which business and technology trends are having the biggest impact on them.

According to Christine Holley, director of market communications for Interactive Intelligence -- a business communications software vendor focusing on contact center automation, enterprise IP telephony, unified communications, and self-service automation -- it came as no surprise that 37% of respondents said widespread VoIP adoption has had the biggest business impact over the past year.

VoIP adoption outshone several other hot business-impact trends, such as compliance issues, which was selected by 17%; offshore outsourcing, 13%; rise of distributed organizations, 13%; and the increase in home and mobile workforces, 7%.

Elsewhere, the survey found that 83% of respondents indicated that technology deployed in their call/contact centers gives them a competitive edge. Holley said that 17% disagreed, and 47% said being at the forefront of technology trends is very important to business. To that same question, 27% of respondents said being on the forefront of technology is critical, 20% said it is important, 3% said it's somewhat important, and 3% said it's not important at all.

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Joseph A. Staples, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for Interactive Intelligence, said the survey results show that call/contact center managers are turning their attention toward increasing customer satisfaction and doing so with VoIP and other emerging technologies.

"A contact center manager really wakes up every day thinking beyond traditional business drivers," Staples said.

Of the 105 companies polled, 73% said they have implemented VoIP or plan to implement it within the next year, and 27% said they have no VoIP plans. Also, the survey found that 21% are currently evaluating VoIP and session initiation protocol (SIP) technology. Other technologies that companies are evaluating include enhanced call routing, 19%; disaster recovery/business continuity technologies, 18%; quality monitoring, 11%; speech recognition, 10%; and videoconferencing, 8%.

Asked how important they consider VoIP to be to their businesses, 40% ranked it as important, 23% considered it very important, and 20% deemed it critical.

Overall, the majority of call/contact center managers questioned said the driving force for implementing VoIP is to improve customer service. Improving customer service was top of mind for 43% of respondents while evaluating communications tools. Others evaluate new technologies to enhance collaboration across the enterprise, to scale incrementally, to increase agent productivity, and to cost-effectively deploy a disaster recovery plan.

Similarly, 43% of respondents rated increasing customer satisfaction as their main reason for seeking out solutions to optimize the contact center, 31% want to add technologies in the contact center to boost ROI and TCO, and 17% said their goal is to boost productivity.

Staples said the survey results represent a shift in the thinking of call/contact center managers. Instead of focusing primarily on the bottom line, managers are now seeing the added value of newer technologies such as VoIP and its various functions.

"Contact center guys are really trying to add value across the board," he said.

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