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Dialer On-Demand
The evolution of the physical dialer.
Posted Sep 15, 2008
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Dialers have long been at the heart of billing and collections practices, yet today these technologies may have become more of a liability than an asset. While they have provided important productivity gains for agents, these legacy systems require complex networking, significant technology-department support to implement and are costly to acquire and maintain, resulting in heavy capital expenditures. They force contact center management to sub-optimize agent productivity due to the prohibitive costs to provision sufficient resources needed to scale up to support high-volume campaigns.

Moreover, most dialer implementations limit paths to change. They typically do not integrate easily with multi-vendor IVR and ACD systems, limiting how outbound and inbound campaigns can be blended. And because they are a physical asset, they are often dedicated to location-specific requirements and offer little operational visibility across an organization.

New, hosted voice applications offer a low-risk migration path to eliminate legacy systems all together, while providing an option to migrate to VoIP. Such on-demand solutions can complement and be layered, enabling organizations to migrate without having to rip out existing dialers in cases where the assets still carry value on the books. In fact, IDC Research estimates the market for on-demand software will grow to $4.6 billion in 2010, and the AVM market will increase to $1.4 billion. Businesses that are capitalizing on this functionality are gaining numerous advantages.

Lower operating costs
An on-demand model eradicates the inherent costs and hassles of in-house systems and associated maintenance and upgrades, since this type of solution requires no hardware, no software licensing, and no extra telephony capabilities. In addition, since organizations would no longer be investing in on-site hardware, they needn't be concerned about technology obsolescence or incurring the high cost of integrating their dialers with other premise-based systems.

Scalability
By moving to an on-demand model, organizations are free to scale up and scale down to meet their needs. For example, outbound call capacity for traditional dialers is usually limited to two to three lines per agent, yet many campaign techniques require outbound line capacities approaching 50 lines per agent. Using on-demand voice solutions, contact centers only pay for active line usage time. This takes the guesswork out of contact center capacity needs -- enabling the organization to operate with unlimited call capacity at a far lower cost.

Greater visibility
Contact centers today are looking to on-demand solutions that support a virtual contact center model, that overcome physical barrier limitations dictated by traditional dialers. This is simply not practical in today's global economy. On-demand solutions offer secure, multi-site and role-based visibility into the status of agents, campaigns and calls, regardless of geographic location.

Add in intelligent call-pacing algorithms that include outbound and inbound call traffic volume, as well as the real-time availability of each agent, and the contact center can now traffic outbound calls based on inbound volume, agent availability and agent skill set. This means customers avoid wait times and agents are able to engage more customers each day.

Moreover, with integrated outbound and inbound on-demand solutions, organizations can support multiple engagement models. Automated Voice Mail campaigns can easily be run and the contact center may also choose to employ inbound, self service tools which allow customers to conduct activities such as paying a bill, renewing a service contract or checking shipping status, freeing agents to focus on high-value or challenging calls, such as the most delinquent collection accounts or customers making big ticket item purchases.

Tracking agent productivity
Truly gleaning staff productivity has long been a vexing issue in contact centers. ACD's merely measure agent productivity based on connect time or the number of calls selected from the queue, even if the caller hangs up before actually speaking with an agent. A better approach is a system that integrates ACD and outbound hosted dialing capabilities which allows the system to track relevant caller data, ensuring that agents get credit for actual calls handled.

Contact centers today are weighed down with outmoded technology. After investing millions of dollars in dialers, organizations aren't simply going to throw them away. Yet they need a bridge to the future. By balancing outbound and inbound calls, average call times and agent availability parameters, contact centers are finally able to optimize staff productivity while improving collections and debt management.

The introduction of new, on-demand hosted solutions is poised to usher in a fundamental change, providing businesses with an option to completely remove their legacy dialers-something that was never thought to be possible. With this freedom from legacy, premise-based dialers, leading contact centers are on the precipice of changing not only their underlying technology but how they actually run their businesses.

About the author
Louis Summe is the cofounder and CEO of LiveVox. Before joining the company, he headed up Physicians' Online.

Please note that the Viewpoints listed in CRM magazine and appearing on destinationCRM.com represent the perspective of the authors, and not necessarily those of the magazine or its editors. If you would like to submit a Viewpoint for consideration on a topic related to customer relationship management, please email viewpoints@destinationCRM.com.

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