Organizations are slow to act on voice and data convergence, and few are exploring new opportunities that could arise from technology like VOIP, despite the heavy marketing vendors have put into the area over past years, according to a new survey carried out at the UK Call Centre Expo by FrontRange Solutions.
Although organizations are looking to their communications technology to deliver cost reduction (25%), best practice process improvement (18%) and reduced complexity such as through a reduced number of suppliers (14%), few are looking for external or customer focused benefits, said the survey. Only 23% of organizations are looking beyond internal organizational benefits to see how voice and data convergence could be used to increase customer satisfaction and retention.
It is disappointing to note that an overwhelming 81% fail to seize the opportunity converged technologies offer to prioritize and give their best customers, however defined, the best service and so improve the chances of keeping them, said Alastair Trower, product marketing manager of EMEA at FrontRange.
FrontRange’s premise is that by combining business applications such as CRM and BI with the telephony infrastructure, organizations can improve customer service, differentiating it by customer.
By utilizing and combining the intelligence held within the business in CRM or service management tools, [organizations] can start to route calls based on the value of the customer to the business, said Trower.
High value customers could be automatically routed to their personal account manager rather than the call centre for instance, or customers with outstanding enquiries could be routed to the agent dealing the issue.
However, buyers either remain to be convinced about the additional value or are still low down on the learning curve. The survey indicated that VOIP is identified as a high priority investment area with 81% of respondents having either implemented or planning to implement an IP telephony solution over the next 12 months, compared to 67% last year.
However, there is a tendency to for implementations to take the form of an new for old replacements, said Trower. Rather than looking at how the technology can be used to improve customer service, organizations are still focusing on cost cutting benefits, he said. Fourty five percent of respondents see reduced call costs as the most important benefit, 20% are looking at it to help reduce call centre churn and 12% see it as a way to reduce admin costs.
There has been progress. The 2005 surveyed showed an increase in the number of organizations citing customer retention and customer satisfaction as important potential benefits. This result was repeated this year, although the numbers remain low with just 27% looking to benefit from increased customer retention and 20% anticipating increased customer satisfaction.
We have quite a way to go, Trower said, but when we started we were pushing uphill. There has been definite progress.