Management information consultancy and software provider Teasel Performance Management has warned that customer management professionals need to start formulating VoIP strategies now if they’re to capitalise on the cost savings and interactive features it offers.
Teasel argues that although consumer VoIP growth has largely been restricted to the ‘early adopter’ category thus far, user experiences have been overwhelmingly positive and functions such as video and cheap international calling, available through providers such as Skype and Vonage have become extremely popular in a very short space of time. Teasel predicts that as this catches on further, consumers will expect to see as well as hear customer agents and will not expect to pay for the ‘privilege’ of receiving customer service.
Tim Burfoot, Managing Director of Teasel comments: “VoIP will have an enormous and very positive impact on contact centres and customers alike.
Customers will enjoy a richer and more interactive experience and they’ll have greater flexibility in how they choose to communicate with an organisation. An increasing number of contact centres are operating VoIP platforms internally, and it’s only a matter of time before it extends to replace traditional fixed lines and switches – the cost model is just too compelling. As well as call charge savings, VoIP also makes the ‘virtual’ call centre option technically easier – so more (or even all) agents could be based at home and the physical centre could disappear altogether in some cases.”
Burfoot continues: “The video dimension also adds another facet. It could be that companies have to enforce a more rigorous dress code since customers will see the agent they’re dealing with. It would also make first time resolution higher since agents will be able to visually demonstrate to customers how they get a product to work. This could be great for a consumer electronics product. Consumers could even point their webcam to a problem with a device and agents would be able to see what they mean rather than the customer having to describe it to them.”
In light of this Teasel urges contact centre management should do the following:
– Decide on their VoIP strategy – determine whether they go in the first wave to full video capability, or whether it makes more sense to start replacing switch infrastructures with VoIP as the technology reaches its normal replacement cycle.
– Conduct market research amongst their customer base and identify which segments are already VoIP and video equipped and whether they want the service.
– Determine their human resources policy. If this means video calling then a dress code should be given consideration. If moving to a more virtual way of working, consider how to ensure consistent service and employee performance management outside the constraints of a traditional office environment, including the ‘video background’ for home-based staff.